Friday , 19 April 2024

2024 Top 5 Robotics Trends

The report from latest indicates a new record with approximately 3.9 million units of operational robots worldwide. This demand is propelled by a series of exciting technological innovations.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

The application trend of artificial intelligence in robotics and automation continues to grow. The emergence of generative AI has opened up new solutions. This subset of AI is specifically used to create new things from what has been learned through training and has already been popularized by tools like ChatGPT. Robot manufacturers are developing interfaces driven by generative AI, allowing users to program robots more intuitively using natural language instead of code. Workers will no longer need specialized programming skills to select and adjust robot actions.

Another example is predictive AI analyzing robot performance data to identify the future state of equipment. Predictive maintenance can save manufacturers the cost of machine downtime. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation report, unplanned downtime in the automotive parts industry is estimated to cause $1.3 million in losses per hour. This indicates the significant cost-saving potential of predictive maintenance. Machine learning algorithms can also analyze data from multiple robots performing the same process for optimization. Generally, the more data machine learning algorithms receive, the better they perform.

Collaborative Robots Expanding into New Application Areas

Human-robot collaboration remains a major trend in robotics technology. The rapid development of sensors, vision technologies, and intelligent grippers enables robots to respond in real-time to changes in the environment, thus working safely alongside humans.

Collaborative robot applications provide a new tool for humans to alleviate and support them. They can assist in tasks requiring lifting, repetitive motions, or working in hazardous environments.

The range of collaborative applications provided by robot manufacturers continues to expand.

Recently, there has been a significant increase in applications of collaborative robots in welding due to a shortage of skilled welders. This demand suggests that automation has not led to a shortage of labor but rather provided a means to address this issue. Therefore, collaborative robots will complement (rather than replace) investments in traditional industrial robots, which operate much faster, thus remaining crucial for increasing productivity to cope with tight profit margins.

New competitors are also entering the market, particularly focusing on collaborative robots. Mobile manipulators, a combination of collaborative robot arms and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), offer new use cases that can significantly increase the demand for collaborative robots.

Mobile Manipulators

Mobile Manipulators (MoMas) are automating material handling tasks in industries such as automotive, logistics, or aerospace. They combine the mobility of robot platforms with the dexterity of robotic arms. This enables them to navigate complex environments and manipulate objects, which is crucial for manufacturing. These robots are equipped with sensors and cameras to inspect and maintain machinery and equipment. One significant advantage of mobile manipulators is their ability to collaborate and support humans. There may be a demand due to shortages of skilled labor and a lack of employees working in factory jobs.

Digital Twins

Digital twin technology is increasingly being used as a tool to optimize the performance of physical systems by creating virtual replicas. As robots are increasingly digitally integrated into factories, digital twins can use their real-world operational data to run simulations and predict possible outcomes. Because twins exist purely as computer models, they can be stress-tested and modified without posing safety hazards while also saving costs. All experiments can be checked before interacting with the physical world. Digital twins bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

Humanoid Robots

Significant progress has been made in robotic technology in the area of humanoid robots, capable of performing a wide range of tasks in various environments. Designed to resemble humans with two arms and two legs, these robots can be flexibly used in work environments created for humans. Therefore, they can be easily integrated into existing warehouse processes and infrastructure.

Detailed objectives for large-scale production of humanoid robots by 2025. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology predicts that humanoid robots could become another disruptive technology, similar to computers or smartphones, potentially changing the way goods are manufactured in factories and the lifestyle of humans.

The potential impact of humanoid robots across various fields makes it an exciting area of development, but their mass-market application remains a complex challenge. Cost is a key factor, and their success will depend on their return on investment, competing with mature robot solutions such as mobile manipulators.

Marina Bill, Chair of the International Federation of Robotics, said: “The five complementary automation trends in 2024 show that robotics is a multidisciplinary field, where technologies are merging to create intelligent solutions for a wide range of tasks.” “These advancements will continue to shape the evolving industries of industrial and service robotics as well as future work.”

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