You’ve probably seen robots testing products like furniture and car parts before, performing endless repetitive tasks to ensure whatever’s being tested won’t quickly break once in the hand of consumers. But according to this video from ABB, there are even robots designed to torture test fully assembled ATMs.
Just watching it in action makes me want to slather myself in hand sanitizer.
The robot in the video is the YuMi, manufactured by ABB Robotics to be a more flexible alternative to the purpose-built robots you’ll find in factories that are designed to only perform a very specific task. Its pair of arms that are each fully articulated make it an expensive alternative, but it allows a robot like this to be programmed to perform almost any repetitive task. It’s not only useful for small companies with smaller production runs that might only need a robot to work on a specific assembly task for a few days instead of many months; it’s also useful for product testing and performing a myriad of tests that would be too monotonous for a human. Such is the case here.
This YuMi is not necessarily going through the motions to make sure this ATM design isn’t going to break when used by thousands and thousands of people. Each of its components are undoubtedly thoroughly tested before being assembled into a fully-functional instant teller. This robot is instead testing the software that powers the ATM, and it performs endless physical transactions the same way a human would—inserting and removing a debit card, depositing or withdrawing money, and tapping away at its various buttons and touchscreen—in an attempt to uncover bugs that would only reveal themselves after countless hours of actual use.
With the robot performing very specific, pre-programmed tasks, it’s also much easier to troubleshoot what actions might have caused a problem in the software as the exact timing of the robot’s movements can be correlated to when exactly a crash happened. Think of the last time you had an error pop up when using an ATM (not related to insufficient funds), and you’ll understand why testing like this is important. But personally, I’d love banks to give me the option to let a robot make ATM withdrawals or deposits on my behalf so I never have to physically touch those bacteria-saturated buttons and screens ever again.