ABB gives keynote at China’s World Artificial Intelligence Conference

Artificial Intelligence is key in increasing manufacturing flexibility and making robots easier to use

Dr. Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics and Discrete Automation Business, addressed the 2020 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), held July 9-11 in Shanghai, China. As a global leader in robotics, Dr. Atiya shared ABB’s latest developments on how robotics enabled by artificial intelligence is helping the industry adapt and grow in a fast-changing landscape.

The WAIC, first held in 2018, is an international event showcasing the world’s latest developments in AI technology and it brings together the most influential AI scientists, entrepreneurs, academic scholars and government officials from around the world to share their views on technological frontiers and trends. This year the annual conference leverages technologies including 5G, virtual and augmented reality to combine physical and virtual panels and exhibitions.

Speaking at the plenary session on Industry Trends, Atiya said: “While COVID is the greatest single catalyst for change in industry in a generation, forcing our customers to reassess their priorities, the global lockdown itself hasn’t started any new trends on its own. It has accelerated four mega-trends that are fundamentally changing the face of manufacturing in the long-term: the individualized consumer, labor shortages, uncertainty and digitalization.”

“Technology in the shape of robotics and automation, and enabled by artificial intelligence, offers many solutions to address these long-term trends, which are accelerating due to the pandemic,” Atiya continued. 

Atiya explained how ABB is pioneering the development of robotics solutions enabled by AI, including a concept for a totally flexible automotive factory, with one area able to seamlessly produce anything from EVs to hybrids or petrol vehicles and a research project evaluating how AI could help humans interact with a robot through natural, spoken language commands. Other AI research projects include support for robots that test and learn in real time, enhance picking and packing in e-fulfillment centers, as well as an AI-enabled intelligent trash sorting concept, developed with Huawei in response to the Shanghai Municipal Government’s 2019 recycling initiative.

Last September, ABB began construction of its state-of-the-art new robotics factory in Shanghai. After its completion in 2021, it will host an onsite research and development center to help accelerate innovations in AI. In this factory, ABB is also developing an AI-based quality assurance project for robot manufacturing. It will use AI to ensure consistently high production quality to make sure every piece of equipment leaving the factory is perfect.

To accelerate innovation and to ensure that AI becomes an integral part of its robotics solutions, ABB has created a global innovation eco-system, partnering with industry-leading companies such as Microsoft, HPE and Ericsson as well as world-class universities and a range of start-ups worldwide.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 110,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.

ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation is a pioneer in robotics, machine automation and digital services, providing innovative solutions for a diverse range of industries, from automotive to electronics to logistics. As one of the world’s leading robotics and machine automation suppliers, we have shipped over 400,000 robot solutions. We help our customers of all sizes to increase productivity, flexibility and simplicity and to improve output quality. We support their transition towards the connected and collaborative factory of the future. ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation employs more than 10,000 people at over 100 locations in more than 53 countries.


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