We’ve all seen various images and video clips of robots on product assembly lines ranging from cars to pocket tools. While robots have helped automate the manufacturing process, few details exist about where the future is likely heading apart from whatever sci-fi theories that are floating around.

While nobody wants to see somebody lose their job, the fact of the matter is that robots are already at a point of being able to learn new tasks just by watching—something that is equally awe-inspiring and frightening. Already we are seeing robotic baristas to make our coffees, robots that can walk around museums at night to give viewers a virtual experience from anywhere in the world, and even robotic bellboys at hotels to deliver your luggage to your room.

How robots and their programs will continue to change the landscape of manufacturing still raises a lot of questions ranging from the potential effects on the economy to how the manufacturing methods might change a traditional product design process.

In this new short film from CGP Grey released this week, we get a more detailed look at where the current state of robots are today:

YouTube video

Quick Takeaways:

  • We spent the last several thousand years creating tools to make physical labor easier…robots are the next step and doesn’t necessarily mean that jobs will be lost if the operators become more specialized workers.
  • There are two kinds of robots: the old robot is automated by operators and programmers. The ‘new’ robot is a quick-learning general purpose robot that can be used for multiple tasks.
  • The annual cost of ‘Baxter the Robot’ is drastically cheaper than a human worker.
  • Millions of people don’t care about ‘artisanal craft’ such as handmade coffee drinks and will just as happily drink automated coffee at the touch of an app.
  • Self-driving cars are one of the best current-day examples of how robots can improve efficiency, safety and costs.

If there’s one thing to take away from this short film, it’s the fact that robots are here right now, automation is inevitable and the best thing we can do is head down to the Florida Keys and drink margaritas while fishing from a dock.

What do you think about the message of the video and how it might shape the future of product design?


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.