The robotics industry is full of innovation right now with a growing amount of applications as each year passes. Whilst many people think of mobile robotics as being a machine that looks to replicate a human, this is just the tip of the consumer-facing iceberg. On the back of the top 5 trends in robotics outlined by the International Federation of Robotics, here are some more trends to look out for in 2022 in the robotics field.
Robotics is currently a space that requires a lot of expertise and time for even small amounts of progress. The result of this was always that robots were never overly accessible and still required experts in their field to maintain and even use them – much like the robotics in the medical field. However, this is quickly changing, with a shift towards cleaner user interfaces and pre-programmed tasks.
In the same way that websites offered the drag-and-drop builders, programming and robotics may be heading the same way. So, even if the robotics are not fully pre-programmed, low code solutions may arise. A focus on easier implementation is lucrative because it’s a large obstacle for companies without dedicated IT departments with robotics expertise – something many businesses aren’t looking to develop. In order to help those businesses, many industrial robotics companies such as Robotnik in Europe or Aresbots in China are developping autonomous mobile robots for every types of industries.
Robotics as a service (RAAS) could become a hit in 2022 if the unit prices of the robots do not fall. There are already RaaS companies out there, though this is yet to be the dominant way of developing a fleet of robotics for a business. In this way the RaaS companies Robotnik offers robot customization in order to adapt to the necesity of every businesses. Basically, this is about meeting short-term needs without long-term investment, something that could reduce manufacturing costs by up to 30%.
There’s likely going to be more support too from companies who know you do not already have a robotics infrastructure set up. If you’re finding that the latest models of robots keep being introduced, this is a good way to always receive the newer, later options, making the operations more flexible.
Intellectual property is an important aspect of robotics, as new research and development are incentivized when it the resulting designs can be legally protected. In 2022, we expect to see more companies focus on patenting more aspects of the design, such as the look and feel. So, beyond the usual utility patents, we expect aesthetics to become more competitive as they strive for better user interfaces – particularly robotics that are direct to the consumer such as the cleaning robots.
Tech companies have been performing above the market index over the Covid pandemic as we saw an increase of the applications of robotics in the medical field. Whether they’re currently overpriced or not is a debate for another day, but what hasn’t yet fully caught wind yet is investment in robotics companies. It’s likely that in 2022, as robotics has a growing presence in new industries, particularly in customer-facing roles, then we will see more sentiment and socially-driven investment into robotics.
Some big names on public exchanges to keep an eye on are iRobot and Intuitive Surgical, of which the former is for performing household tasks whilst the latter is robotic solutions for complex surgical procedures. Amazon is also leading the way with using robots to manage inventory and logistics. Amazon is up over 350% in the past five years, whilst iRobot is up over 110%. As each year goes by, we are beginning to see robotics investing being talked about more and more on publishers like fool and FT, but it’s still flying well under the radar.
Collaborative robots, otherwise known as cobots, are set to have a big year. The idea of the cobot is attractive to everyday people, because it’s a future in which we work alongside robots instead of being replaced by them. For businesses, this may mean cutting fear labour costs, but often robots are limited to a set amount of tasks in isolation – but when paired with a human, the robot’s potential is increased.
Cobots are a less idealistic approach to automation, a middle ground in which pragmatic productivity can be achieved. Cobots are also easier to install and maintain, with fewer risks if they malfunction. As there is inherently a human around with cobots, which reduces the disruption in the instance of a malfunction. We expect cobots to be a sensible stepping stone for companies looking for full automation solutions for operations.
The robotics industry is quickly expanding. Currently, the solutions and applications are popping up in surprising industries, making it difficult to pin down robotics as an industry in and of itself – which it is. Over 2022, we expect robotics to become more widely accepted as a way of working in various industries, from healthcare to education, which will soon inevitably have cobots.