A few of General Motors’ 25,000 manufacturing robots are taking a break from their daily welding, fastening and painting chores to spread some holiday cheer.
Of course, it’s a strictly programmed activity, not a rogue rise of the machines. While unusual, the ho, ho, ho-larious task is just an offshoot of GM’s drive to develop flexible manufacturing systems. GM has influenced the development of a variety of robots – including those used in stamping, welding, painting, and assembly.
Fifty years ago, GM manufacturing engineers helped define the robotics industry. The company's 1961 collaboration with “Father of Robotics” Joseph Engelberger resulted in the first industrial robot used in a GM production facility, and is generally regarded as a technological/industrial milestone.
GM also played a key role in development of the robotics industry with the 1982 establishment of the GMFanuc joint venture. FANUC, as it is known today, is one of the world's largest makers of industrial robots.
GM still leads the industry in the development and use of commercial robotics in its manufacturing processes, purchasing and implementing approximately 3,000 robots globally each year.