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Boom in Robot Advances Expected Over Next Three Years

<p>Research firm, <a href="https://www.idc.com/" target="_blank">IDC</a>, has released its annual report on the development of robots: <a href="https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US43203617" target="_blank">IDC FutureScape Robotics 2018 Predictions</a>. The report presents predictions by IDC’s robotics team as to the development of robotics from 2018 through 2021.</p><p>The development and deployment of robotics in a variety of industries has expanded in 2017. The rapid convergence of robotics and artificial intelligence technologies has accelerated the development of next-generation intelligent robots for industrial, commercial, and consumer applications.</p><p><strong>Mobility Is Key to Adoption</strong></p><p>The analysts found a number of patterns in robot development and deployment. For one, mobile robots are gaining traction over their stationary siblings.</p><p>“The most interesting development is the growth of the mobile platform robot with the capability to attach a variety of components. These are service robots for warehouse and fulfillment centers. Companies like Locus are building these collaborative robots,” John Santagate, research director of service robotics at IDC Manufacturing Insights told <em>Design News</em>. “The collaborative part helps to drive adoption since it allows people to work safely around the robots.”</p><p>Security robots now roam a variety of facilities. The key to the new generation of security robots is mobility. “The mobility is a big part of security robots. A fixed security robot is no better than a security camera,” said Santagate. “What’s driving their adoption is their mobility and versatility. They can even smell.”</p><p><strong>Robots Can Find Their Way Around Unmapped Environments</strong></p><p>In the past, mobile robots were designed to travel a specific mapped territory. Smart robots have grown beyond that restriction. “The important part of mobility is the robot’s ability to autonomously navigate an unknown environment,” said Santagate. “They can sense an obstruction and seek for another path. They can see a human and move out of the way. They understand what’s going on around them.”</p><p>One mobility robots is catching on as a hospital aide, moving safely down busy halls as it carries its cargo to individual hospital rooms. “The TUG robot from Aethon is a good example mature mobile robot. It takes medication and supplies to hospital rooms,” said Santagate. “It navigates multiple floors, traveling in restricted areas, in elevators, and through doors. That’s a high level of sophistication.”</p>
From a spike in drone use, to advancing intelligence, to better robot coordination, IDC offers 10 predictions on the future of robots – all pointing to growth and efficiency.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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