Technology: The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming

In his 1921 play R.U.R., Czech Author Karel Capek, the man who coined the term robot, conjured up an army of mechanical monsters that succeeded in taking over the world. Today milder, real-life versions of such creatures are starting to find places in factories and plants, and what they are taking over is a number of industry's most toilsome chores. Unlike other automated machinery, which is usually stationary and must be manned by production workers, these so-called industrial robots can be moved from job to job and programmed to perform tasks virtually on their own.

The typical robot is outrigged with...

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