These 4 Industries Are Leading the Way in Robotics Adoption

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by Chris Wiltz, Design News

As robotics adoption continues to accelerate, these four industries are leading the charge, according to MassRobotics.

In late 2013, a significant event changed the state of the entire robotics industry. That was when Google opened up its robotics division and acquired a series of robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics (the two companies have since parted ways).

“Every investor started looking at robotics and thinking if Google is doing this huge investment there is something going on,” Fady Saad, co-founder of MassRobotics, a Boston-based non-profit devoted to escalating and incubating robotics technologies, said. And though Google’s larger robotics strategy is still somewhat of a mystery, Saad said the founding of Google’s robotics division, “triggered a whole chain reaction around robotics.”

Since then there has been a boom in popularity of robots in applications ranging from collaborative robots in the industrial space, to retail, and even home-use robots.

Speaking at the 2019 Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in Boston, Saad identified four key verticals that have demonstrated a solid adoption of robotics and have been leading the way in the advancement and proliferation of robotics technology:

1.)Advanced Manufacturing

It should come as little surprise that the advanced manufacturing space is leading the way in robotics. “It’s very easy for manufacturing companies to continue to adopt more robotics because they were already utilizing automation,” Saad said. He also cited growing use of collaborative robots (or cobots) as well as the emergence of metal 3D printing as key drivers behind advanced manufacturing’s continued leadership in robotics.

2.)Logistics and Supply Chain

For better or worse, “there are some very interesting activities around automating warehouses and logistics,” Saad told the ESC audience. Arguably the best-known of the companies in this space is Kiva Systems, a maker of automated robots for warehouses. Kiva was eventually acquired by Amazon and its machines now make up the entirety of the robotic workforce in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.

Saad said Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva however left a void in the warehouse robotics space. “No other companies can use Kiva because it’s part of Amazon,” he said. As such a number of companies including Locus Robotics, Fetch Robotics, and Vecna have sprung up in recent years to offer alternative solutions to a wider selection of customers.

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