With the increase in diversification across industries, robotics sector is growing with significant leaps and bounds. In 2020, the sector will witness continued growth, shifting attitudes, and emergence of new roles.
According to a report, the global market for robots is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 26 percent to reach just under US$ 210 billion by 2025. It is predicted that this market will hit the US$ 100 billion mark by next year.
As noted by Robotics Business Review, observing the ever-growing aptitude of robot and robotics, some of the industry experts expressed their views and predicted the prominence of the technology in 2020 and beyond.
Role: Research Director
Company: Interact Analysis
Prediction: “The industrial robot market will return to robust growth, with more than 400,000 shipped in 2020 – an 11 percent increase over 2019.” He also predicted that China will consume 1 in 2 robots sold next year; mobile robot (AGV & AMR) revenues will breach the US$3 mark for the first time next year; more than 120,000 order fulfillment robots (excluding those by Amazon) will be installed by the end of 2020; a new market leader will take the #1 spot in the rankings next year – likely one based in Asia; investments in micro-fulfillment grocery stores in the US will more than double, to over US$100 million in 2020; and piece-picking robots will be the fastest-growing warehouse automation technology in the US, with growth of just under 100 percent in 2020.
Role: CEO and President
Company: Pensa Systems
Prediction: “We should see more robotics and automation in retail, but it will be less invasive and less visible. Robots will work quietly behind the scenes, helping store employees to be more efficient and spend more time with customers. Last year’s efforts were pretty brutish – more like a sumo wrestler in size and with bright lights, kind of Rosie the Robot incarnate. Next year’s robots will be working around people, in many cases by being nowhere near people, helping in the background.”
Role: VP of Marketing
Company: 6 River Systems
Prediction: “Robots will become more public-facing. Implementation of robots in behind-the-scenes locations like warehouses and dark stores have exploded over the past several years, but they are just beginning to gain traction in public settings. We predict large retailers and other businesses will continue to introduce more public-facing robots that can assist customers with finding products, connect them to staff, help store associates with buy-online, pick-up-in-store orders, and alert staff of necessary cleanups. These robots will not replace the store staff, but rather will supplement the staff’s work and allow employees to be more efficient.”
Role: CEO and Co-founder
Company: inVia Robotics
Prediction: “We have already seen a steady expansion in the scope of tasks for which robots are being relied upon – this year alone, robots that were previously solely picking are now replenishing, cycle counting, and putting back returns and mispicks. In 2020, we’ll continue to see more responsibilities transferred to robots, including quality check and pack out, and other adjacent areas where companies were forced to rely on transient, temporary labor that is becoming increasingly scarce. We predict a shift toward a reliance on robots for all of the tasks normally assigned to temporary labor, which will lead to the creation of more full-time jobs for team members that oversee the automated work.”
Role: Director of Marketing & Growth
Company: Waypoint Robotics
Prediction: “We expect that companies doing pilot programs and testing will see the true strengths and weaknesses of competing mobile robots. We think they will conclude that a mixture of robots for different applications will be needed to meet their needs, and interoperability among mobile robot makers will be critical to success. As companies move towards deployment, they will focus their attention more narrowly on specific applications requiring more top modules and custom accessories. 2020 will see a reckoning for low performers and a sink-or-swim moment for the idea of third-party fleet managers.”
Role: Head of Product and Marketing
Company: RightHand Robotics
Prediction: “2020 will go down in automation history as a pivotal year for robotic piece-picking systems, as the technology passes 100 million picks on its way to the first billion. What once seemed like science fiction will be recognized as the new reality, supported by reports on how it transforms operations. Retailers of all types will begin factoring automated piece-picking into their order fulfillment strategies as they seek the right mix of ‘bricks and clicks’ and build the distribution network that balances micro and macro, local and long haul. Worker productivity will skyrocket as individuals begin to supervise growing fleets of robotic pickers. This automated piece-picking capability will drive down costs for a range of fulfillment models, including those managed by third-party logistics providers, thereby preserving margins as retailers compete to provide consumers a better overall experience, with buying options that are increasingly fast and convenient.”
Role: Director of product development
Company: Realtime Robotics
Prediction: “Cobots as we know them have peaked. Demand for power and force-limited robots has peaked due to reduced functionality and capabilities. By 2025, manufacturers will no longer be investing in these systems, and traditional cobots will be replaced by better technology for the human-robot workcell. Industrial robots will become more persuasive, as they will become significantly easier to program. As robotic automation expands into new industrial areas like logistics and electronic assembly, this will be essential to facilitate widespread adoption. The shift from script-based programming to graphical-based programming will be the catalyst behind this.”
Role: general manager
Company: OnRobot’s Americas division
Prediction: “Going into 2020, end-of-arm tooling will continue to push the limits of human interaction. Modern grippers are so sophisticated that they can even handle the fragile silicon wafers used in manufacturing computer processors. Force/torque sensors help locate and detect an object’s presence for greater accuracy. These sensitive grippers will increasingly be used in manufacturing processes that require the application of a precise force to achieve high-quality results. Businesses that continue using traditional methods, such as fabricating unique tools for specific manufacturing tasks, are at a significant disadvantage going into a new decade because of the high cost and inflexible nature of this approach.”
Role: CEO and co-founder
Prediction: “Customizable approaches to deep learning will make or break AI applications. Traditional approaches to deep learning can be tedious and time consuming, due to the need for massive amounts of data that needs to be retrained over and over again. Moreover, data is often not available online or is confidential to one organization, so it cannot be combined to create massive AI systems. In 2020, we’ll see the emergence of new paradigms and approaches to deep learning to solve these challenges.”
Role: Head of Strategic Marketing and Applications Development
Company: Universal Robots North America
Prediction: “With the U.S.’s now record of low unemployment rates, we’re seeing companies consider automation more than ever before, but it’s not because they’re trying to replace humans – they simply can’t find them. Unfortunately, the situation does not appear ready to improve anytime soon, with 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day, and millennials not interested in joining the manufacturing industry.”