An Israeli-Japanese joint venture is offering robots for hire by manufacturing industries, creating what it says is “the world’s first employment agency for robots.”
MusashiAI is a joint venture set up by Israel’s SixAI Ltd., the firm of Israeli tech entrepreneur Ran Poliakine, the maker of the Powermat wireless charging solution, and Japan’s Musashi Seimitsu, an affiliate company of the giant Honda Motor Corporation.
The joint venture was set up earlier this year to develop artificial intelligence technologies to form the basis of the so-called fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, which will see the automation and digitalization of the manufacturing process.
MusashiAi has now launched what it says are “fully autonomous robots” — a robotic forklift and a visual inspection robot — to “integrate seamlessly” with human workers in an industry 4.0 factory environment.
These advanced robots will be able to undertake some of the strenuous and repetitive work performed by humans in industrial workplaces, the joint venture said in a statement.
Musashi Seimitsu, a global maker of automotive transmission parts, is now testing the two robots in 35 manufacturing plants worldwide, the statement said.
The joint venture is also setting up a new business model that will enable industrial firms to tap into the technologies through “a robotic employment agency,” instead of investing significant amounts of money in buying the robots. The initiative was launched on Tuesday in Japan, and will be rolled out first in Japan and then in 2020 to other locations including Taiwan, Germany, Sweden, the UK, the US and Israel, a spokesman for the firm said.
This roll-out will allow companies to hire robot labor by the hour or pay a task-completed-based salary rate. This will let the robots be deployed at a faster pace, the companies said in the statement.
“Our robot employment agency is a gamechanger,” said Poliakine, the founder and chairman of SixAI, in the statement. “It will provide capacity in markets that struggle with labor availability either through the difficulty of the work itself or the cost pressures they face. By offering hourly or task related salary rates, our autonomous robotic AI employees are easy to plan for and integrate in any factory workflow.”
MusashiAI’s Visual Quality Control Inspector uses artificial intelligence and what the company called “cutting-edge optics” to identify defects in manufacturing lines.
An experienced human quality control inspector checks manufactured parts for defects at a rate of approximately 2 seconds per part with an accuracy of 97%, the statement said. Traditionally, the better robots took over 20 seconds per component to achieve 70% accuracy. MusashiAI’s AI-based robots work with an effectiveness similar to humans’ at just under 2 seconds for above 98% accuracy, using machine learning technologies, the statement said.
The firm has also developed a forklift driver that is able to navigate on its own to perform a variety of logistical tasks previously limited to humans. The robot works with “unparalleled efficiency and safety standards” that aim to prevent injuries to work staff on the warehouse or manufacturing floor.
The robots that are being offered for hire are fully autonomous rather than just automated, meaning that they can be given specific tasks with the optimal way to perform these tasks defined in advance.
“Our goal is to find ways to integrate genuinely smart robots in real-world workplaces,” said Poliakine in the statement. “We want people and companies to be able to allocate repetitive but essential work to robot workers, while humans focus on the more complex and engaging tasks, where they have a competitive advantage over machines.”
Musashi Seimitsu Industry Co., Ltd. is a global auto parts Tier1 company for automobiles and motorcycles, whose headquarters is located in Toyohashi, Japan. It has 33 manufacturing sites in 14 countries across Europe, North and South America, China, and Southeast Asia. The firm is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
SixAI is an Israeli company set up by Poliakine to provide AI-robotics solutions industries, including semiconductor factories, retail, security, and agri-technology firms.