The future looks bleak for humans who like working, and car factories are the most clichéd example of efficient robots replacing fat unionised humans. Unless the factory in question is Mercedes, which has recently replaced some machines with good old-fashioned people.
According to a Bloomberg report, Mercedes is on a trend of replacing fixed robots either with humans, or smaller, more flexible machines. The problems are being caused by the array of options on the new S-Class — four different hub caps and various trim options confused the poor robots, but are no match for our opposable thumbs and high-resolution eyeballs.
The problems aren’t specifically caused by the machines moving too slowly — it’s the time taken to adjust and retool between slightly different production runs that is proving too difficult.
One car maker slightly reducing its reliance on automated production is not the reversal of a global trend, and doom-and-gloom surrounding half of all current jobs being automated in decades isn’t over yet. But it’s also a timely reminder that as good as robots get, they have got a long way to go to beat the human machine.