The five most important robotics trends of 2012, like the top five of 2011, will enable volume manufacturing and greater integration of robotics with machine vision and automated systems. Some trends discussed in the slideshow below outline very targeted applications. Yet, once again, the developments in each are relevant to other, often very different types of applications, which concern robot design and the design of the systems in which they work.
Click the image below to start the slideshow:
Just like people, robots do things better with two hands. More dexterous robots will be valuable in several applications, from surgery to materials handling, or even picking up samples as they walk across the surface of Mars. A step -- perhaps a grasp -- in the right direction is the small robot with two arms, two hands, and opposable thumbs described in Dual-Armed Robot Making In-Roads.
At Automate 2011, the SDA5D lifted spherical objects from a nearby table. It's being adopted in industrial applications from logistics and palletizing to automated assembly and distribution. A larger model is deployed in automotive assembly plants and by the National Aeronautics and Space Administrtion (NASA) for space simulation operations.
Very informative wrap up on what to watch for in terms of robotics trends in 2012. I would definitely agree with the last point--the idea that the software needs to--and is--catching up with the hardware. Just like all of the embedded software being added to cars to enable and all the new gadgetry, I imagine it will be the software that will ultimately drive the utility of these new robots, especially the ability for manufacturing engineers to more easily configure and program the robots to do their stuff.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.