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Man and Machine Collaborating on the Factory Floor: A Nightmare or a Match Made in Heaven?

Whenever mankind works together with machinery, new methods are needed to cater to human unpredictability—and to ensure that robots can anticipate it.
By Pieter Simoens

To make things even more complicated, we must throw this extra consideration into the mix: in an industrial setting, the foremost requirement is transparency, in order to make sure production targets can be met. But deep learning is actually the opposite of this; you train the system to recognize patterns, but you lose control of how that system comes to its conclusions. Hence, an extra requirement of complex reasoning is that it must be sufficiently transparent (or explainable) for people to accept it, meaning that in the future, we will be talking about explainable AI.

Lifelong Learning: Also for Robots
In the run up to 2035, complex reasoning will become a new strategic research topic, with teams from across the globe studying how the underlying algorithms must be developed, implemented and optimized.

Furthermore, we will be confronted with the issue of how machines can continually improve their reactions and ways of anticipating actions. This means that new reward systems based on implicit and explicit feedback signals must be developed. You can bet that, in the future, the concept of lifelong learning will no longer only apply to man, but to machines as well.

Want to Know More?
• The 3D reconstruction of, for example, tunnels or industrial buildings is a time-consuming and expensive process. Read more about LiBorg 2.0, a robot for on-the-fly 3D mapping of environments, based on LIDAR technology.
This article you explains how you can inspect the inside of complex quality products and avoid damaging them.
• Learn more about Antwerp startup Aloxy, a spinoff of imec and the University of Antwerp, which delivers plug-and-play IoT solutions for digitizing manual valves in the petrochemical industry and for asset management during maintenance and shutdowns.
• In The Internet of Unexpected Things, a selection of IoT projects is presented in which imec collaborates closely with industrial partners.
• How can we plug robots into the IoT? Found out more in this article.

Pieter Simoens is a professor at Ghent University, in Belgium, and is affiliated with imec. He received an M.Sc. degree in electronic engineering in 2005 and a Ph.D. degree in 2011 from Ghent University. Pieter is an assistant professor affiliated with Ghent's Department of Information Technology, as well as with iMinds, and is teaching courses on mobile application development and software engineering. He is the author or co-author of more than 70 papers published in international journals, or in the proceedings of international conferences, and has been involved in several national and European research projects, including FP6 MUSE, FP7 MobiThin and H2020 FUSION.

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