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14 robotics trends for 2024 and beyond

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14 robotics trends for 2024 and beyond

14 robotics trends

The robotics industry is constantly evolving, with new innovations being introduced every year. 2024 is the year of robotics, transformation in development, implementation, financing and mergers and acquisitions in the robot industry. This year, all signs point to rapid growth in robotics over the next 10 years. Robotics trends for 2024

Robotics has revolutionized industry. These 14 innovative robotics trends for 2024 are reshaping the industry in response to the historical challenges of the past few years. As Industry 4.0 fully takes shape across many industries, these trends are shaping the future of robotics.

Here’s a look at 14 robotics trends and innovations this year.

Increased investment in robotics companies and robotics startups

Investors continue to fund the latest robotics innovations in a variety of industries, including medical, manufacturing, logistics, hospitality and automotive. With plenty of money in the market, venture capital (VC), private equity (PE) and strategic investors are looking to capitalize on and guide the development of disruptive robotics technologies.

Labor shortages and supply chain disruptions are fueling demand for robotics in industry. The global industrial robot market is expected to reach $31.13 billion by 2028, up from $14.61 billion in 2020, according to Fortune Business Insights.

Smart factories and robotics

The use of several combinations of modern robotics technologies to create highly flexible, self-adaptive manufacturing facilities, known as a “smart factory”, is already being used in some countries around the world. Assembly lines will benefit from industrial robots and automated solutions, and smart factories will become the norm.

Digital factories and smart factories with robots

As a result, we should expect faster, more efficient and accurate manufacturing processes with fewer errors. Robots and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) will interact in the future, requiring less maintenance and human intervention.

Digital factories and smart factories with robots can achieve new levels of efficiency and flexibility by connecting various processes, information flows and stakeholders (front-line workers, planners, etc.) in a coordinated manner.

Collaborative robots (cobots)

Cobots and assistive robots are taking center stage in the workplace.
Many companies dream of full automation, but the reality is that full automation can be prohibitively expensive, and there are many tasks that robots cannot perform as well as humans at this stage. Thus, innovative companies are looking for solutions that leverage the best of what humans and robots have to offer.

More and more companies are using cobots to supplement their workforce and meet demand even with a small team. In fact, the popularity of cobots has led to the demise of the “robots are stealing jobs” narrative. The reality is that robots help people work easier and safer, while robots fill empty roles.

Unlike a conventional robot, cobots are designed to work with people rather than in isolation. This allows businesses to combine the strengths of human employees with the strengths of robots. Cobots not only make employees’ jobs safer, but also increase productivity—one of the main reasons for their success today.

For example, fulfillment centers are equipping warehouse workers with robotic exosuits to enhance human mobility. These assistive devices help stabilize joints and relieve movement during lifting and carrying, thereby helping to prevent injury and improve worker endurance. The market for wearable exoskeleton robots is expected to reach $5.2 billion by 2025, up from $130 million in 2018, according to Wintergreen Research.

Companies are also looking to cobots (robots that work alongside humans) to improve efficiency and safety by taking over boring, dangerous or dirty jobs. For example, pick and place cobots easily integrate into existing operations and take over the routine task of sorting and packing various goods. Cobots also use advanced imaging and sensor systems for reliable quality control in production environments. The use of industrial robots in factories has nearly doubled worldwide over the past 5 years, and cobots are expected to account for 34% of all robot sales in North America by 2025, up from 3% in 2017

Increased adoption of RPA in robotics

Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Few can deny the benefits of robotic process automation, especially given the rise of RPA. RPA improves quality control, reduces costs and increases efficiency, among many other important benefits. The 2020s will see significant growth in RPA adoption, but it is one of the major developments of 2022 in particular.

Analysts estimate that the global RPA market will be worth more than $29.3 billion by 2030, with an impressive CAGR of 27.7%—higher than many other technologies can claim. The growth of RPA is also due to the development of edge robotics technologies such as cobots and artificial intelligence. RPA companies are adapting to this by creating more widely compatible devices that customers can easily use with other robots to create highly customizable systems.

Robot workers (robot workers)

Like cobots, robot employees are a trend emerging in response to the pandemic. The COVID-19 virus itself initially forced companies to reduce employee contact with customers due to safety concerns. However, in the second half of the pandemic and beyond, talent shortages have become a more pressing issue for many businesses.

As a result, robots are beginning to fill unfilled jobs, even in roles that were once thought impossible to automate. A great example of this are autonomous delivery robots used to deliver food and other small online orders. They have become so popular that several states have written laws dictating where robots can and cannot work. With demand for same-day orders at an all-time high for everything from food to electronics, delivery robots are meeting an equally high demand for drivers.

Robots as a Service (RaaS)

As a recent study shows, the global Robots as a Service (RaaS) market was valued at $12.6 billion in 2020 and is expected to cross $41.3 billion by 2028, registering a compound annual growth rate of 15.9% during the forecast period ( 2021–2028).

Today, not every company can afford to hire the workers needed to support industrial robotics, especially as manufacturing faces its biggest crisis in decades.
Some of the biggest limitations for smaller companies in introducing robotics into their manufacturing facilities have been employee experience and high initial investment. However, with the rise of the everything-as-a-service (*aaS) trend, this problem no longer exists. Companies can now leverage RPA through robots-as-a-service (RaaS) models.

Robotic equipment is not purchased directly, but is leased. Robotics rental services typically include monitoring, analysis, and preventive maintenance. This offers many benefits, including reduced initial robotics investment and the ability to redesign as needed.

Integration of AI in robotics

As robotics technology continues to advance, so does artificial intelligence. A 2021 global study by McKinsey found that 56% of companies report using AI in at least one function and have found multiple benefits. For example, retail companies using AI have achieved sales growth of 1-2%, while companies in manufacturing industries have reduced conversion costs by up to 20%.

Interestingly, respondents also reported significant cost reductions as a result of AI adoption between 2019 and 2020. This potentially points to a surge in innovation and adoption of robotics and AI brought on by the pandemic.

In 2022, AI will remain one of the top trends in robotics as its applications continue to evolve. Businesses can integrate artificial intelligence into robotic automation systems to create intelligent automation. Processes such as customer service and inventory management can also be automated, which would not be possible using robotics alone. Innovations in machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing will only further the growing popularity of AI alongside and within robotic systems.

Intellectual Property (IP) is Critical to Robotics Innovation

Patents, trade secrets, and other intellectual property continue to be important tools for driving growth in the robotics industry. Strong IP protection encourages companies to invest in research and development and offers additional tools to help innovative companies maintain a competitive advantage.

Additionally, robotics investors view the exclusivity provided by intellectual property as a valuable asset, as barriers to entry often lead to increased market share. This, in turn, helps companies attract financing and increase their value.

Likewise, IP protection encourages the growth of industry partnerships by reducing the risk of exchanging valuable technologies and often allowing parties to benefit from each other’s exclusive shields for background technologies included in joint ventures and collaborations. Savvy robotics companies build strong patent portfolios to differentiate themselves from competitors. Strategic companies are also increasingly using design patents to protect the “look and feel” of robots and user interfaces, in addition to the “how it works” protection provided by utility patents.

Preventive Maintenance Using Robotics

Robotics can save huge amounts of money over time, but it also comes with maintenance costs to ensure peak performance is maintained. As a result, predictive maintenance in robotics is becoming increasingly popular this year. Predictive maintenance uses technologies such as IoT sensors to monitor the robot’s performance and physical condition. Sensor data identifies dips in performance, indicating it is time to complete maintenance before major repairs are required.

IoT sensors are also useful in robotic process automation, where they can help robots perform highly useful tasks such as quality control. Internet of Things and remote sensing and tracking technologies are becoming especially popular in warehouses, where robots are used for everything from picking items off shelves to packing boxes for shipping.

Robots will become more accessible and easier to use

A few years ago, introducing programmable robots meant investing a lot of money and time. But democratization is accelerating. New generations of robots that are smaller and more affordable are being developed to make deployment easier. For example, ABB’s SWIFTI cobots and Universal Robots cobots are good affordable solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Manufacturers are also developing new types of robots with either easy setup and installation or no programming at all. For IFR, “there is also a clear trend towards user interfaces that allow simple icon-based programming and manual control of robots. KUKA, for example, is developing Ready_2, which can be taught rather than programmed, for example. By eliminating the need for any specialized coding or programming training, such solutions help remove many of the barriers that previously prevented companies from investing in robots.

Increasing robot compatibility and interaction

There is serious progress in the field of robot interaction. Interoperability between robots will be as much of a focus as interoperability between cobots and humans as the adoption of robotics becomes more widespread. Few companies source all of their robotic platforms from a single developer and thus have trouble getting these different platforms to communicate and work together. As a result, operations are often highly segmented, limiting potential efficiency gains. Consumer demand will force the industry to set standards and use open architectures to facilitate interoperability between robotic platforms, as in the computer and telecommunications industries.

With so much adoption and innovation in robotics, variety and customization are becoming a challenge for some businesses. In 2022, more robotics developers will keep this in mind. Industry experts are seeing a trend toward RPA collaboration this year, noting that it relies on combining multiple technologies to achieve maximum efficiency.

This trend includes AI and machine learning, as well as other robots. A manufacturing company, for example, may need completely different robots for different parts of the production process or to produce different products. The market advantage of robots is the possibility of their easy compatibility with other, completely different robots. This is an interesting contrast to other industries, but points to a robot-dependent future.

Robots in catering

While robotics adoption is growing in virtually every niche, food service robots are receiving particular attention. The food industry is not what many would consider a “robot industry.” After all, it’s hard to imagine a robot taking the place of a famous chef in a gourmet kitchen or inventing new recipes for a cookbook. However, there is a shortage of candidates for everyday food industry jobs, and businesses need a solution that can meet the demand for fast food.

An excellent example of food robotics at work is the already famous pizza robot. By the time the Picnic autonomous pizza robot opened for pre-sales in 2021, many had already heard of it, from industry leaders to everyday consumers.

It is one of a growing number of robots-as-a-service that are likely to revolutionize the food and beverage industry in 2022 and over the next decade. Robots are also becoming increasingly popular in the service and customer service industries.

Strengthening security to prevent robot hacking

Cybersecurity will continue to be a major concern for the robotics industry, given the potential damage, disruptions and even personal injury that could result from hackers gaining control of robots. Such dangers were demonstrated back in 2010 by the use of the computer malware Stuxnet to launch Iranian nuclear centrifuges, causing them to explode into pieces, and companies are even more wary of state-sanctioned cybersecurity threats as geopolitical tensions dominate current events.

Robotics companies are also aware of the possibility of similar attacks from terrorists, individuals and even corporations trying to sabotage competitors. This context also raises liability issues, prompting industry and government to make intensive efforts to prevent emerging threats.

Robotics and Industry 4.0

All of this year’s innovative robotics trends prove the undeniable development and growth of Industry 4.0. The last couple of years have seen a massive increase in automation across more industries than ever before. Robotics is at the heart of this growth. Increased adoption of robotics will drive down prices and spark new waves of innovation in the industry. In 2024, many of these trends may even become new industry standards.


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