Fortune

IS THIS ROBOT A FRIEND—OR A FOE?

Automated manufacturing technology is becoming affordable for smaller companies. What does that mean for jobs?
A “collaborative” robot, like this one made by Rethink Robotics, saved one company 2,400 human hours previously needed to pack a single part.

DONALD TRUMP rode a wave of anger and frustration among blue-collar workers, who had watched 8 million manufacturing jobs vanish over 30 years, to the presidency. He promises to restore them by slashing taxes, reducing regulations, and redrafting or killing trade agreements. But even if those strategies revive U.S. factories, a threat looms that has nothing to do with China or Mexico: Robots are likely to claim many roles long performed by flesh-and-blood workers.

Robots are on the rise—and the greatest growth may be about to come. Some 34,600 manufacturing robots shipped in North America last year, nearly double the 18,200 that were sold

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Fortune

Fortune11 min read
Big-box Rebound: How Target Packaged A Turnaround
In 2017, the struggling megachain spooked Wall Street and earned mockery in the retail world by committing billions to revamping its stores. That Hail Mary pass connected for a touchdown: Today, more-inviting shopping floors and smoother e-commerce h
Fortune3 min read
Translating Success
IN HIS 41 YEARS ON EARTH SO FAR, Luis von Ahn has changed the world three times. People still blame him for the first. That invention, which had its public debut on Yahoo in 2000, had a mouthful of a name; the Guatemalan-born computer scientist call
Fortune1 min readTech
Capital Offense
YOU’D BE HARD-PRESSED to find a company more committed to using the so-called public cloud than Capital One. America’s seventh-biggest bank by revenue has spent years winding down its data centers—from eight in 2014 to zero planned by the end of 2020