Detail map of Greer, South Carolina, United States,Odense C, Odense, Denmark

A: Greer, South Carolina, United States, B: Odense C, Odense, Denmark

Robots Helping Workers on Automobile Assembly Lines

Statement on Universal Robots' website from screenshot taken in September 2020
Statement on Universal Robots' website from screenshot taken in September 2020

By 2013 robots had evolved to the point where it was considered safe for humans to work along side them on assembly lines.  An example cited by MIT Technology Review was BMW's Greer, South Carolina plant where robots made by Universal Robots of Odense, Denmark, were helping workers perform final door assembly: 

" 'The robots are working with a door sealant that keeps sound and water out of the car, and is applied before the door casing is attached. 'It’s pretty heavy work because you have to roll this glue line to the door,' says Stefan Bartscher, head of innovation at BMW. 'If you do that several times a day, it’s like playing a Wimbledon match.'

"According to Bartscher, final assembly robots will not replace human workers; they will extend their careers. 'Our workers are getting older,' Bartscher says. 'The retirement age in Germany just rose from 65 to 67, and I’m pretty sure when I retire it’ll be 72 or something. We actually need something to compensate and keep our workforce healthy, and keep them in labor for a long time. We want to get the robots to support the humans.' In recent years, robot manufacturers have realized that with the right software and safety controls, their products could be made to work in close proximity to humans. As a result, a new breed of more capable workplace robot is rapidly appearing" (, accessed 09-17-2013).

When I turned to Universal Robots website in September 2020 the most salient detail was their statement that they had sold no less than 46,000 robots that were involved in production projects around the world.

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