EVERETT, Wash. -- Boeing has announced its considering robots to begin working on airplane assembly lines as early as next year.

The company says its been testing its Fuselage Automated Upright Build technology in secret over the past year and has found success drilling rivets on 777 fuselages. Boeing believes the FAUB will improve workplace safety and production speed.

The airplane maker already uses robots to drill the rivet holes. But since the 1950s, rivets have always been installed by a two-person team.

The move is certain to ruffle the feathers of machinists who were stuck in a bitter battle with Boeing last year over the future of new 777X production line in Everett. Boeing threatened to move jobs out of state until the machinists union approved a contract securing jobs in the region.

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