The idea of having a ready-to-help artificial assistant to guide human beings dates to ancient times and has progressively manifested itself into the reality we know today. From industrial machines to home appliances, and the integration of Industry 4.0 with IoT and artificial intelligence, the world of robotics is going through quite an evolution currently. In spite of the heightened evolution pace, especially in the past two centuries, robotics still has a lot of possibilities ahead.
In this article we will be outlining latest trends which have already and will further mark new eras in terms of robotic development.
Collaborative robots (Cobots)
Cobots or collaborative robots, as we mentioned in a previous article “The 10 Robotics stands that you should visit at Hannover Messe 2018”, are smaller, lighter and smarter than conventional industrial robots and are equipped to work alongside humans. These are expected to become an even bigger trend, as a research by ABI Research shows Cobot market to grow tenfold between 2015 until 2020 to reach values exceeding USD 1 bn. Future efforts regarding collaborative robots are focused on making them more accustomed to humans which includes adaptation to human behavior on a deeper level and the ability to communicate with their operators via dialogue.
Robotics as a Service (RaaS)
Robotics as a service or RaaS is exactly what it sounds like. To keep pace with the large growth in the manufactured goods segment, especially in the electronics market, manufacturers need to adapt accordingly – expand and upgrade their technology and business models.
Smaller businesses as well as short-term projects generally cannot afford or do not have a long-term commitment to the needed robotics technology. Robot manufacturers have begun to capitalize on this need by offering a new model of service delivery – robots as a service. Instead of purchasing them, clients can now rent one or multiple robots for a specific timeframe for a more affordable price. This not only helps clients when making a critical investment decision regarding the specific type of equipment, but also helps robot manufacturers expand their client base and test new developments in practice.
This practice for example, has gained good traction in the agricultural industry, which is known to be very cost-sensitive. Another perk of this service is that it also leverages the cloud, which provides added computational and data storage capabilities. This is especially deemed valuable for companies that work with a lot and diverse types of robots.
Until recently, the process of teaching a robot how to perform tasks has been a relatively tedious activity. With the introduction of Industry 4.0 involving internet of things(IoT), artificial intelligence and big data, robots are now able to experience a completely new way of educating themselves – machine learning. While the conventional way of ‘teaching’ a robot requires programming it, machine learning enables robots to learn and make predictions via a trial and error-based approach. By processing large data sets and experiences, the robot can detect patterns and make an informed decision. And, as long as it is aware what constitutes an accurate conclusion, and receives more data, the robot gets progressively better.
A subset of machine learning which introduces an even more sophisticated use of artificial intelligence is deep learning. Deep learning differs from machine learning in a sense that it requires a wider range of data resources and uses a layered structure of algorithms that have similarity with the way we humans experience logic. Each layer within the structure consists of complex features which help to determine the essence of the information. For example, the machine can recognize new images just by deconstructing their unique characteristics.
Quite contrary to our typical perception of robots, soft robots (as the name hints) are not the rigid steel machines that we are accustomed to. Their structure consists mainly of soft substances (like fluids, gels, etc.) which equips them to perform different set of tasks than the conventional robot. Soft robots are developed mainly for the purposes of getting into contact with environments that require interactions with organisms and handling objects delicately. For example, one of their best applications is within the field of medicine, where they could be used for interacting with human tissue without tearing or bruising it. Today, humans have managed to produce soft robots who could repair their own damaged tissue, crawl like snakes through rough terrains, and even fold like origami to collect data from organs like our stomach. They can mimic animals in order to explore their surrounding environments without disrupting their lives. Scientists hope for their future functional applications to include wearable robots, human motor assistance in physiotherapies and heart pumps.
Commercialization of robots, robotics laws and regulations
With advancement of technology and machines, newer and newer versions and models of products come into the market. Even though robots and robotics have already infiltrated our lives, more intelligent versions of those will become commercialized and thus, cheaper. They will become more than mere kitchen appliances – more like mechanical assistants that would help us achieve better and faster results when conducting our daily tasks.
We hope you enjoyed this article – for more on the topic of Robotics you can look at our article titled “The 10 Robotics stands that you should visit at Hannover Messe 2018, or you can sign up for our Robotics briefing. The robotics briefing is one of the 7 briefings on digital topics, which we deliver on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. They bring you the latest news in the fields of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Cloud, Digital Startups, Virtual Reality and Cybersecurity. Stay informed!