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The Pransky interview: Brian Carlisle, pioneer, robotics entrepreneur, President and Co-Founder of Precise Automation

Joanne Pransky (Robotic Psychiatrist, Sonoma County, California, USA)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 13 November 2019

Issue publication date: 14 November 2019




The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned entrepreneur regarding his pioneering efforts in the industrial robot industry and the commercialization and challenges of bringing robotic inventions to market. This paper aims to discuss these issues.


The interviewee is Brian Carlisle, President and Co-founder of Precise Automation, a robot manufacturer that specializes in collaborative robots. Carlisle discusses the highlights of his 40-year career that led to groundbreaking innovations in small parts assembly and handling robots, along with some of the challenges. He also shares his thoughts on the future of the industry.


Brian Carlisle received his BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. After Stanford, Carlisle and colleague Dr Bruce Shimano worked for Vicarm, a three-person company started by robotics pioneer Victor Scheinman. Vicarm was sold to Unimation and Carlisle became Unimation’s Director of R&D where he and his team developed the PUMA™ series of electric robots and grew sales from $0 to $40m in five years. In 1983, Carlisle and Shimano co-founded Adept Technology and as its CEO for 20 years, Carlisle grew Adept to over $100m in robot sales. In 2004, Carlisle co-founded with Shimano, Precise Automation, and is the President and CEO.


Brian Carlisle is a pioneer of the small parts assembly and handling robot. He was one of the key members of the team that developed the PUMA™ robot for Unimation. The PUMA™ robot was the watershed product that launched the assembly robot business in the USA and Europe. At Adept, he led the design of the first Direct Drive SCARA Robot and under his helm, Precise Automation introduced the first commercially available collaborative robots. Carlisle was President of the Robotic Industries Association for three years, is the recipient of the Joseph Engelberger Award for Leadership in Robotics, and an elected IEEE Fellow. He has served on the Board of the National Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing, the Boards of the National Center for Manufacturing Science, the Automation Forum of NEMA and is a founding member of the National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative. He holds multiple patents for robot designs.



Pransky, J. (2019), "The Pransky interview: Brian Carlisle, pioneer, robotics entrepreneur, President and Co-Founder of Precise Automation", Industrial Robot, Vol. 46 No. 6, pp. 728-732.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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