At the Automate/ProMat 2019, there were many commercial robots but only a few of them stood out from the rest. Developers of robotics involved in the manufacturing and supply chain industries could witness exhibits by component manufacturers and complete solution providers including conference panels on applications. From the robots present at the show, here are 10 key takeaways you know.
Easy of use: Several exhibitors and speakers stated that designing with ease of use at the forefront is essential. This helps spread robotics across industries beyond electronics and automotive manufacturing. Many experts have spent a lot of their time in careers that help make robots that are easier to use. Collaborative mobile platforms and robot arms help logistics providers and manufacturers of various sizes but integration and programming should be easier before mid-size and small enterprises adopt more.
Mobile robots, accessories: The growth in mobile robots happens with greater flexibility in warehouses and factories. Mobile robots are deployed in various aspects from autonomous forklifts to heavy-lift platforms. As these mobile robots work with non-standardized and existing facilities, it is possible to reduce the cost of infrastructure including multi-layer racks, stationary conveyors, and positioning systems.
Base is important: At the Automate/ProMat 2019, several mobile robots vendors including MiR, Fetch Robotics, Clearpath Robotics, and Waypoint Robotics displayed larger platforms. These are larger robots that can move autonomously via more dynamic environments with cheaper lidar and sophisticated software. Some of these robots can carry a car chassis too.
Cobot arms, gripper makers: There was equal importance on the cobot arms and grippers as new models. There were numerous cobots on display and a partner of Universal Robots – Robotiq displays new vacuum grippers as well as sanding kit. Many competing cobot makers are racing to add capabilities and leading to specialization.
Mobile manipulation: The combination of cobots and mobile robots is obvious, but the power, precision and safety challenges have been overcome with time. Many mobile manipulators demonstrated at the show have a fewer use cases such as simultaneous localization and mapping, life sciences, satellite manufacturing, etc.
Software and AI: Most hardware manufacturers content that their robots are not commoditized but agree that it is important to focus on software. Besides perception, manipulation and navigation, developers are focusing on controls, data sharing and security. Also, AI and mission-controlled software use deep learning along with hardware upgrades.
Simulation: There are simulation packages that generate PLC code and let users test the same on a digital twin. The code is then sent to the robot. With simulation, it is possible to go from a plant floor to global management.
Incremental progress: The groundbreaking aspects at the show are the latest offerings of cobots, AMRs, and industrial automation and incremental improvements in software, end effectors, and sensors.
Exploring new markets: Many robotics companies at the show were focused on expanding into new markets and new applications. This is possible as Western companies are looking for options to expand into Asian markets with cobots.
Looking ahead: Several robotics developers are eying to deploy technologies including 5G and IoT and are keen to understand how the same will affect their business.