Industrial automation has entered its golden stage, being adopted in a revolutionary way in several industrial and manufacturing sectors, with the door open to enter our homes.
The adoption of robotics will be present in more sectors, industrial spaces and everyday life. We will see them in food production, retail, health and logistics operations.
Disruptive technologies in the robotics sector will grow significantly during this year. The number of companies that develop and market robots will increase significantly in 2019, especially in Germany, China and the United States. The key factors will remain reliability, safety, speed, precision and ease of use. Presenting impressive technologies that we might think we would only be seen in the latest high-budget Sci-Fi movie.
The Logistics sector is considered a fertile ground to “robotize” processes and systems, propelling the potential for disruptive innovation to territories where it was not possible before. We will see the impact at different points in the supply chain, for example:
“The last mile”, a common problem inherent in logistics operations and crucial in electronic commerce. Robots have been developed to work in large indoor environments, to deliver products in work environments such as: offices, warehouses or commercial premises.
Ex. Segway Loomo
Others take the streets directly to deliver small packages such as fresh and hot food. An example is the Nuro robot, which has special training to carry separate, heated and refrigerated loads. This robot is already operating in Phoenix, Arizona.
The development of autonomous robots will be a competitive advantage for distribution and logistics companies to end customers. The most important parcel delivery companies in the world are betting on generating alternatives that add value to the customer experience and their business model.
Cobots. Collaborative robots
Collaborative robots, or cobots, are considered the friendly face of work automation. They provide timely advice or offer mechanical muscle at specific times.
Concern about the impersonation of humans by robots has made cobots a boom in robotics development. Allowing companies to implement automation fluidly, ensuring the harmony of tasks between humans and machines.
It is not new that robots cohabit with humans in workspaces, a clear example, assembly lines. The novelty lies in creating cobots much more compact and secure in their movements. Which can perform tasks that contribute and reduce risk to human capital.
Ex. MiR500 Cobots designed by Mobile Industrial Robots and Kverneland Group. They can lift 1,100 pounds and cross the premises without a guide.
Humans with superpowers.
Robotic exoskeletons are at their best. Its development and improvement will allow iterations to carry out more activities and greater energy autonomy. The first battery-powered full-body industrial robotic exoskeleton will be commercially available in early 2020. Its developers claim that it will give users a force amplification of 20 to 1.
There are also exoskeleton pilots that allow a paraplegic person to move. This will be a huge step for many people with mobility problems. This technology will have the power to change their lives
The exoskeletons are therefore a very interesting robotics development area and of great social importance. Global market growth is expected to be over $ 5.5 billion by 2025.
Modular robotic designs.
Integration is one of the “bottlenecks” of innovation development in the robotics area. Companies such as Acutronic Robotics and the ARM Group (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) are developing modular, plug-and-play designs; with interchangeable parts and modular joints with several grip parts, closing speeds, maximum payloads and flexibility, thanks to intuitive open source tools. All to create a robot that can perform multiple jobs with the rapid exchange of one piece.
An example of this is “Mara” from Acutronic Robotics.
The “Mara” coordination is achieved through H-ROS, an open and flexible programming framework for adapting common robotic components in different areas.
Cloud Robotics: The era of robots in the cloud.
This year will be crucial for cloud technology to become a vital component for industrial automation. Companies like Google and Amazon announce new cloud-oriented development services, in close relationship with Robotics. The advantages of connecting robots in the cloud are based on increasing computational power, storage and effective communication. In this way, manage to exponentially increase its performance.
Robots for Edge Computing development.
During 2019 we can expect to see advances in intelligent sensors and artificial intelligence built-in sensors, which reduce the need to send information to the cloud or centralized servers for processing, before acting. This should allow more intelligent and autonomous robots to start appearing in homes and industrial environments throughout 2019.
Traditionally what we do with robots is to collect information from the environment, send it to the cloud or a centralized system, make decisions and tell the robot what to do. This way of proceeding causes delays, is inefficient and in some cases, makes it impossible to robotize certain processes. If we turn robots into smarter elements, that take decisions, we manage to eliminate these problems.
We can say that in the coming years logistics will remain a blue ocean for Robotics development. The development of promising products will have an impact on all parts of the value chain, self-controlled trucks, smart warehouses, service robots, etc. Automation in logistics will go hand in hand with innovation driven by sensors, hardware and the search for process safety.
The imperative rise of robotics causes debate, for many it becomes a fear of jobs disappearance, as well as, the dehumanization of service and labour. Given the varied points of view, I consider mandatory, the need that at the same time we innovate with technology, develop innovation from a systemic point of view. Allowing the adaptation and evolution of human resources and work systems, since this technology is here to stay. In short, the future of any company will integrate robots or will cease to exist, but in any case, people will continue to be decisive.