Trends in Robotics

In the News
September 26, 2016

Tim De Rosett, the VP of Industrial Automation of Aethon (platinum sponsor of RoboBusiness 2016) shares his thoughts in this blog submission: 

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen big changes in robotics. Changes that have to do with the accessibility of robots for companies who’ve never before used robots. Small & medium enterprises - many of them outside the automotive manufacturing sector. I’ve heard this referred to as the “democratization of robotics”. This is due to several factors like price, ease of integration and collaborative robots - or cobots, which work side-by-side with people without the need for traditional guarding. Other factors include advanced sensing and mobility. Advanced sensing is being used to locate and identify various items in the robot’s environment. Mobility is taking the robot to the work, or simply delivering raw materials to the line and finished goods to the packaging area. Manufacturing and production environments are becoming less and less structured. Sometimes environments are very dynamic from the start and it’s difficult (and expensive) to change the entire factory to support fixed robots. Robots must be adapted to unstructured environments – and we’re seeing it happen.

Cloud computing (IIoT, Industrie 4.0, etc.) is also enabling robots to do things they could not do a few years ago. While it’s been in place for hospitals for years,  Aethon’s patented Remote Command Center now enables manufacturing customers to focus on their material flow and production processes, while the staffed command center miles away monitors a fleet of mobile robots and ensures deliveries are made as expected. Aethon’s support staff are available to make near-realtime updates to maps and robot programs as customer facilities or delivery needs change. Aethon engineers also use the Remote Command Center to push software updates to hundreds of installed robots, bringing software up to the latest revision and adding features, which results in smarter more, efficient mobile robots.  

You can’t talk about robots without talking about jobs. From my view (and I may be biased) robots help do the dull, dangerous and difficult jobs that people don’t want to do or shouldn’t be doing. While labor cost savings is invariably a big part of ROI calculations, most companies have no desire to reduce headcount. They want to redeploy those people to do higher level, more meaningful jobs. This is without exception and I’ve visited and talked with employers all over the US, Mexico, Europe, China, Singapore, Japan, etc. Companies can’t hire and retain enough people.

Join Tim De Rosett on September 28 at 2pm at the Expo Theater as he provides an overview of Autonomous Mobile Robots, what they have in common with traditional industrial robots and how they’re unique. Don't miss Aethon's keynote address on Day 2 of RoboBusiness at 9am presented by Aldo Zini, President and CEO and Tony Melanson, VP of Marketing. Visit Booth 101 at RoboBusiness to learn more about Aethon!