PC Gaming This robotic assembly line builds the Steam Controller without any human interaction

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,068   +130
Staff member

Unless you're exposed to it on a regular basis, it's easy to take for granted just how advanced robotic manufacturing really is. Yet even the most advanced assembly lines still require a good bit of human interaction.

When Valve decided to design its own hardware, the company also wanted to try its hand at manufacturing. They admittedly went a bit overboard and ended up building one of the largest fully automated assembly lines in the US. Fortunately, Valve was kind enough to share it with us in the above video which outlines how the assembly line came together and how it's able to build the Steam Controller without any human interaction.

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Posts: 528   +218
Millions of dollars of equipment to do what 30 Chinese workers would normally do, but at least it's "built" in the USA


Posts: 199   +70
Seemed to me there were people crawling all over the place in that video. They're just spectators then? Anyway, I'm far more impressed with the machines building the controllers than the actual controller.


Posts: 2,117   +922
How do the raw materials arrive on site? Humans did have to setup the entire assembly line, and they appear to be hanging around for whatever reason in the video.

Now Valve, how about spending some time and money finishing the Half Life franchise?... No, I didn't think you would. EVER.

You don't have to pay health, dental and retirement plans.Only electricity bill.

Don't forget the cost of transporting all the goods back from China. Do Chinese workers even get all the benefits you mentioned?


Posts: 12,697   +6,054
Just because the machines don't need help building, doesn't mean they don't need monitoring and maintenance to keep them running.


Posts: 16,504   +5,310
Just because the machines don't need help building, doesn't mean they don't need monitoring and maintenance to keep them running.
Try putting this in the context of a new mall coming to town. The developers blow a bunch of sunshine up the community elder's backsides about how much it will 'stimulate the town's economy', and how many 'jobs will be created'. True, during the construction phase, jobs in the building trades abound. But, they're temporary.

After the mall is built, those jobs go away, and you're left with a lot of minimum wage jobs in retail sales. Oh, and before I forget, the taxes on your property skyrocket. That's the one thing you forgot about the whole deal, the part when the developer said, "the mall coming to town will increase property values"... :D Did y'all think you were getting a free ride on those, 'increased property values'. Hell no, the only person who won't be paying those taxes is the developer.

And lest we forget, mostly everything for sale in the mall is made in China.

Same thing here, building a factory in the US will, "create jobs", however temporary. The corporation having the factory built here in the US can crow about how, 'we're bringing manufacturing back to the US". But again, we missed the fine print that said, "but humans won't be doing it".

Overall, this is the same crap Apple was spraying around a while back. The biggest beneficiaries of this, 'new found wealth', will be the half dozen executives sitting on their flabby a**es in the factory office around bonus time.

Although, we need to face facts, there's nothing in the modern tech product spectrum, which can be built 'by hand' anyway. So, having all robot factories is something to complain about, unfortunately it's a moot complaint.


"Don't forget the cost of transporting all the goods back from China."

Well, I want to be patriotic for a second...The tariff on import from China is suuuuuuuuper low. I understand that the number of jobs that stick around after the factories (or a mall as some said) are minimal, the taxes that are generated in multiple levels, stimulate the economy and do provide a few middle income jobs and some low paying jobs. Isn't it better for someone on unemployment/welfare to have access to a potential job?

On the other hand, if everything just comes from China, there is a hug chain of taxes that are bypassed.
Having jobs here (especially manufacturing jobs), is much better imo.