The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) has recently published a report on the latest trends and potential growth areas in the robotics industry. Jeremy Capron, Director of Research at ROBO Global, a robotics research organisation, believes the robotics industry is in line for an exponential growth. He said robots would become ubiquitous and would have the same impact as the internet.
The progress made in machine intelligence and processing chips had left the robotic automation possibilities wide open, he added.
Sign up for your weekly dose of what's up in emerging technology.
Let’s take a look at the report’s highlights.
Service robots and cobots will grow more than industrial robots
The report projects significant growth opportunities for robotics in the medical or pharmaceutical applications, e-commerce, and the agriculture industry. The service robotics industry is expected to grow faster than the industrial, as more robots move out of cages.
Applications of these professional service robots will be higher in logistics. The report predicts as many as 259,000 logistics robots — up 400% from 2018 — will be in existence by 2023.
Even on industrial shop floors, robots will start working alongside human beings. Further, the line dividing conventional industrial robots and collaborative robots or cobots will continue to blur. According to ABI Research, a tech research company, Cobots will take up 29% of the total robotics market this decade.
The easy deployment and higher flexibility will drive Cobots adoption, even in smaller companies.
Moving robots will account for a huge part of logistical support
The pandemic has accelerated the demand for mobile robotics. There’s a long way to go before the safe deployment of fully autonomous vehicles on regular streets and highways. However, autonomous mobile robots for manufacturing and e-commerce are taking advantage of the advancements in self-driving technology to further their cause.
Surging demands in online purchases and the need for material handling have forced e-commerce companies to invest heavily in mobile robots like automated forklifts. In resource management and other related applications, drones are now used to keep track of the inventory in warehouses. Certain e-commerce sectors are also witnessing an ‘online grocery automation’ trend.
According to an ABI Research report, nearly 6 million of the 8 million robots by 2030 will be mobile.
Medical devices, inspection robots and disinfection robots
The pandemic has led to a surge in cleaning and disinfection robots. Airports, schools, grocery stores, hospitals, and other public spaces will use automated disinfection robots to maintain hygiene levels.
The applications of robotics in the medical field will see rapid growth in the coming years. Robotic-assisted gynaecology and prostate surgeries are already in place. Applications will now move to orthopaedics. Along with surgical robots, there will be a rise in laboratory robots due to advances in genomics.
Sophisticated technologies like embedded vision and SLAM allow robots to work in industrial sites such as oil rigs, chemical plants, or mines for detection and inspection. These robots will gain significant importance as they help avoid putting human beings in precarious situations.
Companies are bullish on reshoring
The pandemic has also changed where the companies want to manufacture these robots.
Rising labour costs, mounting trade tensions, and declining prices in robotics have led many industry leaders to consider reshoring their businesses. Most companies prefer to make everything local, as the industry is still recovering from the supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic.
Investment analysts are showing a keen interest in automation and are looking for strategies to offset the costs of reshoring efforts. Reshoring will drive up technology, employment, innovation, and stimulate local economies.
China predicted to be the leader
Like all other emerging technologies, an upper hand in robotics gives you a huge geopolitical advantage. Countries across the world are competing for superiority in this industry.
According to the RIA report, “China is a trend all on its own.” The country is showing great promise in terms of the ratio of robots per 10,000 citizens.
According to an ABI research analyst, China is increasingly outcompeting Western companies on reliability, price point, and popularity.