There is much said in this day and age about robots replacing good old human beings, with estimates rising to over 50% of current jobs in the near future. What are the implications for the bike industry? Well, at the manufacturing stage, robots have already taken over frame building. And high end wheels are the now the domain of precision machines pushing the art of wheel building in the same direction as coopers and thatchers of the past. Manufacturers have CNC machines running 24 hours a day churning out everything from headset spacers to hubs. Wholesalers have automatic pick and pack systems in place thus doing away with the traditional warehouse staff.
But what of the bike shop...will we be insulated from the march of the robot? Except for one at your door dressed in lycra in a meet and greet role I cannot think of a job a robot could do. OK a coffee machine is kind of a robot...Fitting a customer with a helmet, convincing a customer to buy bike X, in fact any sales floor activity requires flesh and blood. The workshop may be another safe haven for the human touch; a robot drone may be able to hit a target 1000kms away with pinpoint accuracy but I doubt if one could be made to be able change a tube. So if you have any children thinking of becoming accountants or lawyers tell them to take up the spoke key for job security.