Robotic automation technology revolutionised the manufacturing industry. The technology is evolving and in a few years’ time, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will transform the industrial sector. Traditional robotic systems were very different in comparison to the latest cobots or collaborative robots.

As robotics technology advances, sensor technologies also advance. Industrial robotic arm sensors today are not what they were five years ago. More sensor innovation technology has gone into improving their performance. The combination of different sensors often produces the best results in the deployment of a robot. With AI, the simplest task will be dependent on 3D machine vision to feed it data.

For a robot to grasp an object, it would not be possible without a 3D image and AI to interpret the visual data into a successful operation by the robot.

There are several robotic trends today:

Cobots

Humans need to be extra careful while going near an industrial robot while in operation. Cobots are “Collaborative robots” and are designed to work alongside humans in a shared workplace. By definition in the ISo standard TS 15066, a cobot should be capable of being utilised in a collaborative operation within a defined space for production purposes.

The deployment of a cobot is used to predict probable collision between the cobot and the human operators. Sensors are critical for the determination of the operator’s position to avoid injury. Cobots must have a high sense of their environment in order for them to be able to detect an imminent collision with humans or other objects. The control unit quickly shuts down the robot in this case, and if the cobot’s electronic circuit, sensors fail or industrial robotic arm fail, the cobot shuts down.

Logistics Robots

Logistics robots are mobile robots that operate in spaces where humans may or not be in the vicinity. These are spaces like distribution centres, campuses, ports, or warehouses. Logistic robots are used to carry goods and deliver them to a packing area or take goods from one site to another. Some logistic robots have the capacity to pick and pack goods.

These robots are designed to move within a particular area and they have sensors for mapping, localisation, and collision prevention. Most logistic robots used pre-defined paths, until recently when they were upgraded. They can now adjust their navigation depending on where humans or other robots are. The robot’s control unit is inside the robot and includes wireless communication to the main remote control unit.

Logistics robots now have advanced technologies such as Machine Learning (ML) logic, environmental analysis technologies, and human-machine collaboration. The rising cost of human labor and tight government requirements are part of the rising use of logistic robots. The robots are also becoming more popular because of the cost of components, equipment, and integration going down considerably.

Last Mile Delivery

Last mile delivery is the product’s last journey to the client doorstep. It is usually the most expensive and time-consuming step. The delivery costs make a large percentage of the shipping cost.

The last mile delivery has become a major focus on how to implement a robotic technology that is capable of improving processes and enhancing efficiency. Autonomous trucks are already in the market and it is not too farfetched to think of drones doing last mile deliveries.

There are still some hurdles towards the actualisation of last mile robotics and many companies have invested in startups. There are two types of predicted autonomous options – drone and ground-based. These robots will considerably reduce operation and labor costs. In the next 5 -10 years, last mile delivery might be a normalised part of the delivery process.

Summary

In the next few years, robotic technology will have grown in leaps and bounds. The robotic trends will have moved to include Artificial Intelligence (AI) The last mile delivery which is a major concern for businessmen will be solved by having robots and drones do the deliveries.

The development of robotics was, in essence, to have robots work alongside human beings. With the high cost of labor and governments imposing strict rules on manufacturers, going robotic seems to be the way to go.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
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