Machines learn to keep going

Artificial Intelligence breakthrough


Machines are rapidly becoming smarter. Yet industrial processes are still often halted for relatively long periods to allow for the implementation of ICT adjustments. From now on, this will change.

RZ_Preis 2015

Where would modern industry be without ICT? The production lines of today consist of automated systems, including control systems, which rely on camera images for flawless production. Previously, processing these images required customized software developed by industrial ICT experts. This would always involve a lengthy lead-in period before a production line could start producing, and made swift responses to changing circumstances almost impossible as change would involve re-adjustments to software.

Automatically Developed Programs

Demand grew for a technology that could automatically develop programs for the processing of camera images. This is the only way a production line would be able to continue uninterruptedly. Fujitsu Laboratories has now developed programs that generate technology by using images of electronic components and IT equipment to very accurately detect the position of components in a production line.

Until now, automatically generated image-processing programs that employ so-called ‘machine learning’ were not capable of detecting the position of parts in a production line. Modifying the parameters within an industrial ICT system would easily take up a whole week, with production at a standstill during this time. The technology developed by Fujitsu Laboratories combines various image-processing functions and makes use of machine learning based on similarities between shapes. The system can ‘learn’ new objects and generate an image recognition program for these within approximately eight hours. This amounts to just one tenth of the time it used to take to make an adjustment to a production line.

Go Live

Fujitsu Laboratories has announced that the new technology is soon to be employed in industry. Production environments will therefore be able to respond to changes in their operational processes much faster. At the autumn meeting last year of the Japan Society for Precision Engineering, the technology was presented to industrial companies. Meanwhile, the technology will continue to be refined, with a view to it being employed on Fujitsu’s own production lines before the end of the financial year in March. Its developers have observed that the technology has the potential to go beyond a production environment, with possible applications for logistics processes, surveillance cameras, and the medical sector.

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