Japanese firm Kawada Industries is on the leading edge of a growing industry that threatens to become a major disruptive force in the coming years: automated labor.
At a recent robot expo, Kawada showed off Nextage, a human-shaped robotic laborer the company says is intended to “work alongside” people. In actuality, the robot could end up replacing people whose job it is to carry out menial tasks on assembly lines. And at just 1,500 watts of power consumption while it is working — less than some hair dryers — the device or one like it could one day become a compelling alternative to sweat shop labor.
That much seems to be true for Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, notorious for paying workers a pittance and demanding long hours. The company said earlier this year that it would build a robot manufacturing facility, and that it hoped to replace most of its workforce with automation in the next three years.