I’m the last human still working in the factory. The actual production is done by the floor robots, who get materials from the loader robots, who get deliveries from the robot trucks. And all of them are repaired and serviced by the maintenance robots. Which is where I come in; I’m the maintenance robot technician. No matter how many layers of robots you have building, delivering, or repair you will always need a human looking after things. Oh, look at that. A maintenance robot just set off it’s distress signal on the production floor. It probably got knocked by a loader robot into a floor robot. The maintenance robots are durable but even they can’t take a full speed hit from a floor robot. Since there are no humans on the floor the robots are allowed to move at full speed and not at the restrained safe pace they used to move at.
I put on my safety helmet, not that it would save me if a robot hit me in the head, and hit the red STOP button before stepping out onto the production floor. The factory is brightly lit, the robots frozen in place, a ballet of metal arms halted in mid motion. With the factory stopped it’s safe to walk through the black and yellow striped work areas. I know this but habit keeps me on the safe white walkways.
The distress signal is on the far side of the factory so it takes me a few minutes to make my way to it. Before I do, it stops. I round the last corner and find three maintenance robots. One is resting flat on the ground its legs sprayed out around it, a panel on its top unscrewed and popped open. The other two hover over it with their multi-tools out.
“Hey guys, whats going on?” The two stop to glance at me before to returning to repairing their friend. I check the messenger on my tablet for a status update from one of the robots. Blunt force trauma, two legs damaged, replacements incoming. A third robot scuttles up with two replacement legs. “Ok guys looks like you got it under control here. I’ll file the report and restart the factory in four minutes.” One of the robots waves upward with its gripper arm. “Five minutes?” It waves sideways. “Good work, guys.”
I walk away, copying the status update into an incident report and filling in the details, finishing it up just as I get back to the office. My watch shows six minutes have passed, so I press the green START button. Outside the office the factory resumes its dance, as I hang my safety helmet up on its hook. Yep, you will always need to have a human looking after things.