What will be the robotics trends of 2018?

Posted on 11 Jan 2018 by Jonny Williamson

One of the UK's fastest growing autonomous robot manufacturers, Tharsus, has put together the robotics trends it predicts will create opportunities for businesses in 2018 and beyond.

The spending on robotics will grow at rate of 22.8% per year over the next 4 years – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Spending on robotics is tipped to grow at rate of 22.8% a year over the next four years as technology advancements enable companies to deploy robots in new areas outside of the traditional industrial manufacturing processes.

In parallel, the increased demand is incentivising innovators in the field to invest in delivering robots that are capable of performing a wider range of tasks, a new IDC study has shown.

Here are what Tharsus expects will create business growth in 2018 and beyond:

An increase in Co-bots

Collaborative robots (‘co-bots’) are starting to take centre stage thanks to the advancement and cheaper prices of AI and motion-sensing technologies. Such capabilities are making co-bots increasingly smarter, enabling their ability to work alongside and interact with humans even further.

From adjusting their position to avoid collisions when they sense the presence of a human colleague to machine learning that allows them to be easily trained to do new tasks and the option to redeploy them to a different working environment, it’s no wonder that co-bots are becoming increasingly attractive to businesses of all sizes.

Artificial Intelligence integration

According to Tharsus, many people still confuse artificial intelligence and robotics as the same thing. A robot is a machine that can be pre-programmed to carry out a specific task or tasks, if you add intelligence to that machine, you create a robot that can provide services to humans in unpredictable and changing environments.

People are not quite at the stage yet where intelligent robots can handle any task, but what they are good at is doing a single task really well by processing and analysing reams of data far more quickly than a human brain could.  Therefore, businesses are increasingly using AI to allow computers to understand and respond to queries from customers.

Mobile autonomy

The concept of autonomous cars has been around for a while, with many of the automotive OEMs already researching, developing and testing autonomous cars. But mobile autonomy is not just for transporting people.

Mobile robots, through autonomous self-guiding vehicles are expected to grow vastly in the coming years as these increasingly complex machines become more and more capable of performing challenging tasks in our daily environments.

Automation Robotics Robots Data Industrial Internet IoT IIoT - Stock Image
By 2020, entire 60% of robots will depend on cloud-based software to define new skills, cognitive capabilities and applications.

Capabilities in environment perception, localisation, mapping and motion planning are complex but they’re becoming increasingly more necessary as robots are deployed in warehouses, fields, airports, hospitals and the like.

From warehouse goods retrieval to fruit picking or room service, mobile robots that act autonomously to move through a real-world environment to perform it’s tasks are expected to grow at an annual rate of 70% by 2020 according to the IDC.

Cloud robotics

According to IDC, by 2020 entire 60% of robots will depend on cloud-based software to define new skills, cognitive capabilities and applications.

Currently, every task a conventional robot completes requires a significant amount of processing power and pre-programed information, not to mention the powerful computers and batteries required to operate them.

Tharsus notes that if all of that information was stored on the cloud, it would enable robotics to be lighter, cheaper and ultimately smarter and thus more appealing and more attainable for businesses and consumers alike.

What’s more, the widespread use of a robotics cloud marketplace whereby developers could upload their programs to be integrated into existing robots or used to create entirely new ones could be closer than we think.

Robotics as a Service (RaaS)

Robotics as a Service (RaaS) is a new twist on an established business model.  While still in its infancy, RaaS is quickly growing into a multi-billion-dollar industry.

By offering highly adaptable robotic solutions for rent, RaaS providers enable companies to avoid large capital investments in robotics while still being able to take advantage of the benefits robotics systems can offer businesses such as increased productivity, reduced costs and allowing the human workers to focus on more value-add tasks.

At the same time, the service provider can invest in and keep up with the latest technologies, while spreading their expenses out over many users.