This time, we are going to talk about robotics adoption. For those who do not know, in late 2013, there is a significant event which changed the state of the entire robotics industry. This was when Google opened up its robotics division and acquired a series of robotics companies which include Boston Dynamics which, if you do not know, the two companies have since parted ways. Because of this, there are many investors who start to look at the robotics and think that there is definitely something that going on if Google did the huge investment, according to the co-founder of MassRobotics, Fady Saad. What Google did back then trigger the whole chain reaction around robotics even though Google’s robotics strategy is still a mystery. Since then on, there has been a huge blast in the popularity of the robots in applications extending from collaborative robots in the industrial area to retail and also home-use robots. Fady Saad at 2019 Embedded Systems Conference or ESC in Boston, stated that he identified there are four key verticals which have demonstrated a solid adoption of robotics and have been leading the way in the advancement and conception of robotics technology.
The first industry which is leading the way in robotics adoption is advanced manufacturing. It has somehow come as a surprising thing that the advanced manufacturing area is leading the way in the robotics adoption. Fady Saad said that it is indeed very easy for advanced manufacturing companies to continue to adopt more robotics because they are already utilizing automation in their projects. Saad also mentioned that the growing use of collaborative robots or co-bots, as well as the emergence of metal 3D printing, becomes the key drivers behind advanced manufacturing’s proceeded leadership in robotics.
Logistics and Supply Chain
The second industry which is also leading the way in robotics adoption is Logistics and Supply Chain. Fady Saad stated in front of the ESC audience that for better or for worse, there are some very exciting activities around automating warehouses and logistics. It is known that Kiva Systems is considered as the best-known of the companies in this area, arguably. For those who do not know, Kiva Systems is a maker of automated robots for warehouses. Kiva Systems is eventually acquired by Amazon and its machines and now it makes up the ensemble of the robotic workforce in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Saad also said that the acquisition of Kiva Systems which is done by Amazon, however, leave a void in the warehouse robotics area. Saad stated that no other companies will be able to use Kiva Systems because it is part of Amazon. This result in there are a whole lot number of companies including Locus Robotics, Fetch Robotics, and Vecna has sprung up in recent years to offer other alternative solutions for a wider selection of customers.
The next industry which is also leading the way in robotics adoption is the construction industry. Although construction is not the most prominent choice as a leading vertical for robotics, Fady Saad stated that the construction industry has seen a lot of activities. It becomes very interesting because the construction industry has not been disturbed in many years. Not only that but the construction industry is also an industry which experiencing labor shortage. That is why there is no other way for the construction industry to fill the labor shortage gap without the help of robotics. The robotics used in the construction area are such as autonomous heavy trucks, autonomous forklifts, and the use of drones to capture data of the construction sites. They all will be helping to fill in some of the labor shortage gaps. Saad also stated that there is a greater reason to expect the construction industry to continue to lead in robotics adoption which is space travel. Another thing which will drive robotics in construction is construction in the outer space. This may sound like sci-fi; NASA and other private space companies have been working on this for a very long time. NASA itself has a startup competition about building structures on the moon using local materials and robots. The investment in these kinds of technologies will definitely affect construction on Earth automatically.
The last industry which is also leading the way in robotics adoption is the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry may undergo one of the most drastic shifts in terms of introducing robotics. One of the examples is the da Vinci surgical robot. However, robots have been introduced to healthcare for many purposes including telepresence, patient monitoring, and hospital logistics.