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A police officer demonstrates how to use a Taser. Photo: Paul Zinken/picture alliance/Getty Images

Ten years ago, Axon started using robots to assemble cartridges for its flagship product, the Taser. Automation helped the Arizona-based giant bring production back into the U.S. and boosted its output by four times.

The big picture: This is why factory automation is predicted to be worth nearly $370 billion worldwide by 2025, up from $191 billion in 2017. Robots build quickly and cheaply, and they don't make mistakes or get tired.

Since Axon began automating manufacturing in 2009, it has bought $18 million worth of automated equipment, the company tells Axios.

  • But as its output has grown, its workforce has, too — from 120 to 420 manufacturing personnel.
  • An Axon spokesperson tells Axios that automation is "not about replacing jobs — it's about using automation to free up our workforce to do different jobs." This is a common refrain among companies that don't want to be seen as unfeelingly replacing humans with robots.

Reality check: They can't replace people yet, even if they wanted to.

  • As we reported this week, robots aren't yet dextrous enough to handle delicate assembly, or flexible enough to deal with any uncertainty in the production line.
  • When robots are cheaper and more capable, you can bet that companies will start cutting staff.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.