Canon shifts to robots for camera production

Reuters: Man tries out a Canon EOS-1D X at a Tokyo showroom.

Camera maker Canon is evolving toward "fully automating" production, to reduce costs. Japan, where the Canon plants in question are located, is a leading nation in robotics development.

"The move toward machine-only production will likely be completed in the next few years, perhaps as soon as 2015," according to a company official quoted in the AP.

But do not fear being made obsolete, earthlings.

"Human beings are needed to come up with innovations on how to use robots," another Canon spokesperson told AP. "Going to a no-man operation at that level is still the world of science fiction."

Read the full article.

(via @tokyoreporter)



  1. When will Canon make a robot to take photos? I always forget to take my camera out at parties.

  2. Given the mechanical fragility, alignment tolerances, and space limitations for the assembly of electronic devices, I’m surprised it took this long.

    I, for one, welcome…

    1. I suspect that large portions of the process(including pick-and-place board stuffing and wave/reflow soldering) were already automated. Humans were likely handling some of the larger scale assembly and/or shuffling things around from robot to robot.

      The interesting bit is the transition from ‘partially/largely automated’ to ‘fully automated’. Even in things like chip fabs, where humans can barely even see the product without a microscope, you often have a person or two running around in bunny suits looking at displays. Getting rid of those last few is the tricky bit.

  3. This is the right direction to take with the ever-declining labor pool in the country.  But is it too little, too late for Japan?

    1. Oh no at some point in the future they will have the same population they had in the 50’s. It will be so horrible for them having open space and real estate maybe even larger apartments.

      They should spend colossal money right now to keep their grandparents alive forever with robots.

      1. By that measure, Wyoming must be like heaven compared to California. ;) 

        [edit] I’m sure the Japanese will like the 50’s living space, but they certainly won’t appreciate 50’s wealth per capita.

  4. So there are two choices for our future: the Star Trek one, where robots do our work, money doesn’t exist and we work to better ourselves, and the Terminator one where robots try to exterminate us.

    1.  I always thought there was a ridiculous lack of automation in the Star Trek universe, frankly.

        1. That’s just it. They have the technology to be past robots, yet much of the work still seems to be done by redshirt muscle power.

          1.  perhaps implying some fundamental limitation. overcome only by Noonian Soong, regarding their capacity to made decent decisions.  Like, for example, choosing to suspend disbelief. That’s a sure sign of an intellect.

          2. Nobody actually does any physical work, besides engineers when they’re fixing things (and even then most fixing is 95% automated – very few physical interactions are needed for repairs).

            They key to understanding this about Star Trek is understanding that the main characters you see are people who wouldn’t be doing physical work anyway, of course, but also, everyone (in the Federation anyway) is like that. There’s nobody behind the scenes doing manual labor!

            Of course you’re right that there’s much more that could be automated than appears to be, but I always felt like they made a fully conscious decision not to be completely automated (Wall-E showing us what might happen if things were fully automated). There are fairly frequent struggles with the computer and the over-automated nature of their vessels on Star Trek – it’s something the writers like to explore.

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