AI and the Manufacturing Industry

Guest blog by MHI member OTTO Motors

Betting of the Future
Every day we read of evolving tech companies like Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft, staking their futures on AI. The face of software engineering is changing to proficiency in machine learning – essentially another term for artificial intelligence, though some of the definitions will be explored in other posts. Victor Basta of Magister Advisors explains, “A good AI engineer is worth more than many company CEOs right now.”

Previously, algorithms had to be adjusted. Now, they are able to learn and adjust themselves. Inspired by the neural networks of the human brain, deep mathematical models called neural nets are learning discrete tasks. They do this, in part, by analyzing vast quantities of data. And if AI is a buzzword, data is right up there too.

Data Everywhere
AI for the general public, whether they know it or not, is found for example, in serving them their newsfeeds. It is the driving force behind face recognition, itself a form of AI, in photos posted online. It comes to the fore in computer translation and is at the core of spoken command responses on our devices. The most talked-about example of AI-enhanced ubiquitous tech in recent days is Pokemon GO, which makes use of augmented reality.

AI is at the heart of these everyday phenomena that everyone experiences, right through to Elon Musk musing on neural laces for human brains. To reference Musk again, ‘we are input-/output-bound.’ Yet there is this vast quantity of data, flowing around the world and being stored in the cloud.

Data is basically information and ‘the one who controls the information has the power.’ So says our team member, Simon Drexler, a thought leader in self-driving technology and artificial intelligence for logistics and distribution. We’re working to pioneer new capabilities in material handling and so, we’ve risen to the challenge of Industry 4.0: integrating material flow infrastructure and implementing wireless network capabilities. And, as Simon points out, “These wifi capabilities, in turn, provide a gap for new businesses – those that disrupt.”

Vehicles for Industry 4.0
What does AI mean for the manufacturing industry? Material flow is at the heart of the AI-powered factory of the future, taking shape here in the midst of Industry 4.0. And to provide new opportunities within material flow processes, self-driving vehicles are being leveraged. These vehicles offer intelligence, provided by new waves of technology, that enable lean and accurate means of material handling. The net-net of this automation by means of indoor self-driving transport? Efficiency. AI is literally the vehicle of the transition to Industry 4.0.

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