Robots that carry out assembly applications are known as industrial robots. Even though the use of traditional industrial robots have been readily applied in electronics and manufacturing, modern ones are equipped with sensors and artificial intelligence thus growing their influence. It is believed that the market for industrial robotics will reach $33.8 billion by 2025. Therefore, you don’t have to rely on researchers to understand that investing in industrial robots is beneficial to your business.
The robots that are being used today for packing deliveries or building machinery are very different from their predecessors. Here are some of the significant changes that have happened in the world of industrial robotics.
The introduction of collaborative robots
Cobots are a different breed of industrial robots in that they are specifically designed to work alongside human workers across a supply chain. Even though they have been around for years, collaborative robots only made up 3% of all industrial robot sales in 2016. However, thanks to reduced costs and advancement in standardized software and artificial intelligence, the sale of cobots are expected to rise to 34% by 2025.
The full adoption of industrial robots has been held back by potential risk to human staff, expensive hardware, and complex software. On the other mechanical hand, cobots are built with human cooperation in mind, they are easier to programme and are cheaper at face value thus making the technology more accessible.
In the warehouse
Applying intelligent industrial robots seems like a no-brainer for big manufacturing operations such as those carried out at auto making factories. At present, big retailers are adopting the same approach in their warehouses. For instance, Amazon has installed industrial robots for picking and packing processes and are soon getting ones for delivery. As of 2017, Amazon has a reported 45,000 robots working across 20 facilities. Ocado, the online supermarket also uses industrial robots for deliveries.
Training with virtual reality
One of the biggest issue with industrial robot installation is the expertise and time required to teach them. However, with virtual reality robot training, research companies are working to change this. In virtual environments, human operators perform actions that the robot imitates or copies which eventually leads to applying the acquired knowledge in real life. This technique is called imitation learning; it enables a single robot to acquire a plethora of skills in a low to no risk environment at a low cost.
Since machine learning algorithms guide the robots, they can imitate the actions of the human operator accurately. Therefore, the way we think about industrial robots has been redefined by the ability to train cobots easily.
Facing the consumer
Aside from working behind the scenes, on factory floors, industrial robots are now becoming visible to consumers as well. For instance, the fast food industry has Flippy which is a burger flipping machine. More businesses are familiarizing their customers with the concept of industrial robots as workers by bringing them to the forefront of customer services.
This concept is likely to encourage the broader adoption of robots into the society such as educational and domestic robots. However, industrial robots have to become collaborative to be able to handle the nuances of human interaction whether it is with a co-worker or customer.
The development of soft robots has been an essential phenomenon in the world of robotics. Just as the name suggests, soft robots are far from the heavy-duty, clunky metallic industrial robots that are found in production lines. Companies can use soft industrial robots for industrial applications that need delicate handling or ought to in turbulent environments.
Engineers and technicians have been able to make robots using silicone and other alternatives all thanks to the developments in 3D printing and materials. The aim of creating soft robots is to expand what robots, in general, can do in real-world environments. In turn, this will help to improve the capabilities of industrial robots.