A recent report published by industrial industry research experts reveals that global investment in robotic technology is set to increase significantly over the next eight years. The Industrial Robots Market Update published by ABI Research predicts sales of commercial robotics in the industrial manufacturing sector will grow to almost £17 billion by 2027.
Capability of Robotics Has ‘Improved Significantly’
One of the main reasons why robotic technology is being adopted in such large numbers around the world is the fact that the capabilities of industrial robotics have improved so much over the last few years.
ABI Research’s principal analyst, Lian Jye Su, was interviewed by industrial machinery website Design News, where he remarked on this advancement of robotic capabilities. Lian Jye said, “Robotics technologies have improved significantly in recent years. One key technology is SLAM, which involves simultaneous localization and mapping. SLAM enables robots to move in unstructured environments without the need of built-in maps.”
Lian Jye also said that the manufacturing industry remains the primary sector for industrial robotic technology. He added, “That includes the articulated robot with a six-axis robot arm, SCARA robots, and the delta robot.
“Universal Robots produces a collaborative robot with a six-axis robot arm that has built-in machine vision capabilities, allowing the robot to see and identify objects. The robots can be easily reprogrammed to perform a variety of tasks.”
Robotics Replacing Human Workers
While robotics are certainly making certain tasks easier and quicker for many manufacturing companies, it does come at the cost of losing jobs for human workers. Although not an ideal situation, it does seem to be a natural cost of technological progression.
“On the factory floor, mobile robots are deployed mainly for unloading and material handling,” continued Lian Jye. “They can replace human workers to carry goods and heavy loads across the factory and between different departments. The applications are still in a nascent stage, and the most relevant example is MiR (Mobile Industrial Robots), which happens to belong to the same mother company as Universal Robot.”
Standard Industrial Machinery Not Going Away
The rise of the robots is certainly an interesting development, although the vast majority of industrial operations remain operated by humans with standard machinery components such as AVE conveyor chains, control pulleys, and large belt closed motor-variators.
ABI Research predict that the largest growth of robotics adoption over the next few years will be in the Asia-Pacific region, with Europe and North America seeing significantly less. This is likely due to the concentration of manufacturing operations in China, India and other eastern and southern Asian countries.
MiR and SLAM Robotics Explained
The new generation of Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) are essentially programmable machines that can perform tasks within an industrial environment. They are distinct from stationary and workbench robotics as they are able to move around and learn from their interactions. They incorporate machine learning to improve their functionality and can save time and money across a wide variety of tasks such as manufacturing processes and product delivery.
SLAM works by integrating machine learning algorithms with swarm robotics technology. By using sensors, radar and multiple cameras, the robots are able to move and operate in ‘unstructured environments’, which primarily consist of open areas such as factory floors and machine assembly areas.
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