Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and modern automation are poised to change the world – not just because they’re transformative by themselves, but also because of the various platforms and improvements they bring with them.
Big data, cloud computing, and data analytics, for example, will be handled differently thanks to modern AI tools. Full automation will be possible, with more efficient and accurate insights pulled from data collections than ever before.
AI and automation will also spruce up the robotics industry. Whereas in the past, robotics were simpler and used for incredibly repetitive tasks, they will now be capable of much more.
Imagine smart robots that can travel throughout entire warehouses, finding and selecting items for fulfillment without any human oversight.
That’s exactly the future we’re headed towards (if we’re not already there). Many companies like Amazon, Best Buy, Adidas and Lowes already experiment with deploying modern robotics to help with these tasks.
The most promising mesh of these technologies comes from collaborative robots, or cobots, which are meant to work alongside humans to help them complete various tasks.
Humans + Robots
To give you some perspective on how much these new technologies will change our lives – and many industries – here are 10 key statistics about the current robotics market:
- Only 15% of businesses use AI today, but 31% plan to add support for it over the next 12 months (according to Adobe’s 2018 Digital Intelligence Briefing).
This means AI is on the rise, and adoption is growing rapidly. AI factors right into modern robotics and cobots because it’s what drives them.
- According to Loup Ventures research, the industrial robotics market is expected to grow by 175% over the next decade.
The primary focus of that growth will be on collaborative, assisting platforms rather than traditional automated machinery.
- In fact, the same Loup report states that 34% of the industrial robots sold by 2025 will be collaborative – designed to work safely alongside humans in factories and plants.
This is despite the fact that collaborative robots only represented 3% of all industrial robots sold in 2016. You can see how growth over the next few years will be tremendous, as companies realize the true potential of modern robotics.
- In North America, there were 32% more robots purchased in the first quarter of 2017 than at the same time the year before, according to the Robotic Industries Association.
By now, we know growth is happening, but this statistic highlights that it’s happening quickly. This rapid pace has also sparked fears that robots and automation systems will take over our jobs. While it’s true that robots may hold nearly 40% of all American jobs by the early 2030s, there are things we can do to prepare for this possibility.
- In Europe between 1999 and 2010, the number of employees grew in tandem with automation, says Zew.
Growth in the robotics and collaborative robotics market also contributes to growth in the demand for labor. You need people to work alongside these systems, and you also need workers dedicated to maintenance, development, and operations.
- ABI Research predicts the collaborative robotics market will surge to $1 billion in total revenue by 2020, with over 40,000 cobots entering the industry.
While almost every statistic here talks about the general growth of AI, robotics, and cobot units sold, this one reveals how much of an impact the technology is poised to have. Over 40,000 robots will enter industry. Not only will they drive the improvement of traditional business processes, but it’s likely they will present applications we have yet to discover, as well.
They also have the potential to boost worker productivity, raise production efficiency, and lower overall operating costs.
- Through a partnership with Locus Robotics, DHL expects to improve efficiency and productivity for their order fulfillment process. They expect the new system to improve picker speed, decrease rates of failure, and improve the overall efficiency of their supply chain.
Locusbots will work alongside human companions to find, collect, and process items for shipment. They will also make regular operations much faster and easier for their human counterparts, with less time and energy required of the latter.
Similar setups will be incredibly beneficial in large plants or expansive properties, as human workers won’t have to travel or search so hard for various items. Some industrial parks span more than 2 million square feet. Can you imagine searching a property of that size for a single product, with little to no help from analytics tools and cobots? It would take forever.
Cobots can also lower operating costs and expenses for many other organizations. Amazon, for example, has outfitted their warehouses and fulfillment centers with smart robots and components to help personnel do their work faster and better.
- According to an analysis by Deutsche Bank, Amazon’s cobots have reduced its operating expenses by 20%, and adding them to newly opened warehouses saves as much as $22 million in fulfillment costs each time.
Similar cost savings can be tapped by nearly any organization or team willing to adopt the technology. More importantly, the robots in question can take on dangerous or repetitive jobs that no one else wants to do.
- One of the most prominent electronics and component manufacturers in the world, Foxconn, has converted 60,000 jobs into automated ones.
The automated systems handle tasks that humans don’t want, or that are dangerous for them to perform regularly. In a way, they’re used to improve the quality of life for most workers and personnel, especially at major factories and plants like the ones Foxconn operates.
- As mentioned in IDC’s Worldwide Healthcare IT 2017 Predictions report, there will be a 50% increase in the use of robotics for medical and healthcare delivery services by 2019.
Modern robotics have a huge impact outside of their standard manufacturing, development, and operations circles. Lately their influence has crossed over into other industries such as healthcare, customer service, marketing, and retail.
We’re not just saying this technology presents unseen possibilities – it’s already a reality!