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CCC / CRA Robotics Roadmap

The CCC/CRA, a consortium of academic computer science departments (essentially), has a roadmap to future robotics that has some implications for the Feynman Path.

Some highlights (from the chapter on manufacturing):

Vignette 2: One-of-a-kind, discrete-part manufacture and assembly

A small job shop with 5 employees primarily catering to orders from medical devices companies is
approached by an occupational therapist one morning to create a customized head-controlled input
device for a quadriplegic wheelchair user. Today the production of such one-of-a-kind devices
would be prohibitively expensive because of the time and labor required for setting up machines
and for assembly. The job shop owner reprograms a robot using voice commands and gestures,
teaching the robot when it gets stuck. The robot is able to get the stock to mills and lathes, and runs
the machines. While the machines are running, the robot sets up the necessary mechanical and
electronic components asking for assistance when there is ambiguity in the instruction set. While
moving from station to station, the robot is able to clean up a coolant spill and alert a human to
safety concerns with a work cell. The robot responds to a request for a quick errand for the shop
foreman in between jobs, but is able to say no to another request that would have resulted in a
delay in its primary job. The robot assembles the components and the joystick is ready for pick-up
by early afternoon. This happens with minimal interruption to the job shop’s schedule.

For a manufacturing timeline:

5 years: Achieve ability to set up, configure and program basic assembly line operations for new products
with a specified industrial robot arm, tooling and auxiliary material handling devices in under 24 hours.
10 years: Achieve ability to set up, configure and program basic assembly line operations for new
products with a specified industrial robot arm, tooling and auxiliary material handling devices in one 8
hour shift.
15 years: Achieve ability to set up, configure and program basic assembly line operations for new products
with a specified industrial robot arm, tooling and auxiliary material handling devices in one hour.

Autonomous navigation:

5 year: Autonomous vehicles will be capable of driving in any modern town or city with clearly lit and
marked roads and demonstrate safe driving comparable to a human driver. Performance of autonomous
vehicles will be superior to that exhibited by human drivers in such tasks as navigating through
an industrial mining area or construction zone, backing into a loading dock, parallel parking, and
emergency braking and stopping.
10 years: Autonomous vehicles will be capable of driving in any city and on unpaved roads, and exhibit
limited capability for off-road environment that humans can drive in, and will be as safe as the average
human driven car.
15 years: Autonomous vehicles will be capable of driving in any environment in which humans can
drive. Their driving skill will be indistinguishable from humans except that robot drivers will be safer
and more predictable than a human driver with less than one year’s driving experience.

Dextrous Manipulation:

5 years: Low-complexity hands with small numbers of independent joints will be capable of robust
whole-hand grasp acquisition.
10 years: Medium-complexity hands with tens of independent joints and novel mechanisms and
actuators will be capable of whole-hand grasp acquisition and limited dexterous manipulation.
15 years: High-complexity hands with tactile array densities approaching that of humans and with
superior dynamic performance will be capable of robust whole-hand grasp acquisition and dexterous
manipulation of objects found in manufacturing environments used by human workers.

Nano-Manufacturing:

5 years: Technologies for massively parallel assembly via self-assembly and harnessing biology to
develop novel approaches for manufacturing with organic materials.
10 years: Manufacturing for the post-CMOS revolution enabling the next generation of molecular
electronics and organic computers
15 years: Nano-manufacturing for nano-robots for drug delivery, therapeutics and diagnostics.

So it is mainstream to be calling for nano-robots in the mid-20s.  My guess is that the kind of nano-robots they have in mind are not the fully-capable kind implied by the Feynman Path, however, but something more like present-day MEMS.  In that case, generally-capable manufacturing nanobots by 2030 may still be on the optimistic side; and there is plenty of headroom for the Feynman Path to accelerate the process.

One Response to “CCC / CRA Robotics Roadmap”

  1. A roadmap for US robotics | SKYLARKERS Says:

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