Declining productivity, slow supply chains, and the ongoing struggle to find and retain workers have been decisive factors in the rapid market adoption of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). While the AMR industry is still in its infancy, warehouses, factories, and facilities of all sizes recognize the benefits, ranging from getting products to market faster to retraining workers for more meaningful and rewarding tasks than transportation. Goods manual.
These benefits drive AMR implementations into increasingly demanding applications, from automotive and electronics manufacturing to third-party logistics (3PL) and consumer packaged goods (CPG). To address the challenges these sophisticated new applications pose, AMR manufacturers are constantly updating their technologies to improve their robots’ performance and ease of use, enabling them to move efficiently and safely in challenging traffic situations. Five rapidly evolving technologies deserve to be considered promoters of the advancement and diffusion of AMRs.
AI Goes Beyond Fashion And Makes AMRs Smarter And Safer
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a popular term, often misused and contradicting itself across industries and applications. But when it refers to AMRs, AI-based technology makes robots smarter so that they can learn how to perform previously complicated or impossible tasks without costly and time-consuming coding. Artificial intelligence requires a significant amount of computational power, becoming more accessible for AMR developers. This allows them to “train” robots to identify objects and situations quickly.
A new generation of algorithms will enable robots to be more efficient at learning from what they experience. Today, the latest generation of AMRs rely on AI for features like identifying objects with greater accuracy and informed navigation to perform safe maneuvers through congested structures, all with lower power consumption. While breakthroughs in AI capabilities have yet to be established, AMRs’ autonomous behavior will continue to improve – the way they travel from point to point without really realizing what’s happening around them.
5G Is Coming, But Perhaps Not As Fast As Everyone Would Like
Today’s mobile robots don’t require a lot of infrastructure, so businesses can quickly get started with just one unit. However, as establishments grow in number, they need to have a way to connect and manage them. At least for now, it is possible to do this through Wi-Fi. However, unfortunately, most of the infrastructures have not been built for data sharing at this level. Once 5G is widely deployed, its more robust IT infrastructure will represent a game-changer for AMRs, enabling companies to efficiently deploy and manage dozens or even hundreds of robots. 5G offers highly reliable and ultra-fast high-bandwidth communication, providing the stability needed to deploy multiple operational robots without any interruption.
In 2022, more businesses will move from Wi-Fi connectivity to 4G, which will be a big step towards the more robust IT infrastructure promised by 5G. Even with 4G, establishments will see better data connectivity, increased security, and overall quality of service far superior to traditional Wi-Fi. As businesses move to 5G, which is ideal for transferring even more data quickly and accurately, AMR performance will also make a massive leap in quality, with faster and more accurate decisions about which paths to take within the structures.
Interoperability And Advanced Software Support Fleet Management
Improvement in sensor technology and connectivity advances for individual robots, such as 5G, will help feed data to plan algorithms and AMR software. This data is critical when navigating structures, as it allows robots to see any object around or above them. With the help of artificial intelligence, the advanced software instructs robots about the tasks or programs to be performed, helping them with route planning and collision avoidance. Until recently, even two or three AMRs were considered an advanced setup.
With factories now using large numbers of AMRs, there is an increased need to coordinate, control and manage the fleet with a single internal logistics system. From a web interface, the fleet management software improves the efficiency of AMR operations, allowing for easy programming and control of robots, including those with several top modules, hooks, or other accessories. Once the programming phase is complete, the system manages the priorities of the fleet of robots. It selects the most suitable one for the operation based on location and availability. Fleet management software can also be integrated with other software.
As AMRs have become an integral part of intralogistics operations, interoperability has become a driving force for new software advances. AMR manufacturers and users have worked together to enable interoperability between robot brands. Mass Robotics’ AMR interoperability working group, which includes MiR, Autoguide, and others, is developing standards that allow companies to implement autonomous mobile robots of multiple brands and have them collaborate in the same environment, achieving the aim of automated production of the warehouse and the factory. Version 1.0 was released on May 18, 2021.
Automation Uses A Lot Of Critical Data Protected By Cyber Security
Cybersecurity may not be the first point of interest when it comes to the technologies that drive AMRs, even if the situation is changing. With AI, interoperability, and 5G wireless networks making much more extensive use of corporate data, organizations employing robots need to pay close attention to how data is made accessible and what AMR makers are doing. to protect them. This is part of the scenario and trends concerning cybersecurity in the industrial sector, where recent threats play an increasingly important/devastating role.
The Colonial Pipeline attack is a prime example of how destructive industrial hacking can be. While the automation industry is not currently experiencing a significant increase in attacks, a troubling trend in the number and sophistication of the supply chain deserves a lot of attention. Cyber-physical systems are becoming increasingly attractive to both the security industry and cybercriminals. While most attacks still target companies’ IT infrastructure, threats to OT devices are multiplying. Many new vulnerabilities have been identified in embedded devices. However, some remain to be defined.
The evolving threat landscape is a warning to businesses of all sizes that they must commit to strengthening their level of cybersecurity. Applying defense-in-depth and adopting security best practices throughout the product lifecycle are the cornerstones of creating safe products. AMR manufacturers must take decisive action to ensure customers are protected in an interconnected and ever-changing world as part of this trend.
The Boundaries Between AMR And Other Automated Applications Are Dissolving
AMRs have transformed internal logistics management to make companies more productive and competitive. This means that system integrators and manufacturers are working with facility managers to leverage advances in material handling for new solutions. Small load applications, such as the transport of raw materials for manufacturing or finished products for quality, or the disposal of processing waste, are increasing in facilities around the world but require AMRs that can carry higher loads.
As a replacement for forklifts or hand-guided transpallets. Furthermore, manipulators equipped with a robot arm mounted on mobile platforms are also evolving. While companies are reaping benefits from the advantages of automation, they continue to evaluate new employment opportunities in the various areas of the plants: from the unloading platform through the production area to the warehouse and shipping department. With improved performance, safety, and interoperability, the boundaries between traditional systems and AMR will become increasingly blurred.
The ongoing challenges of work, supply chain, and productivity will only increase the demand for automation technologies that are increasingly efficient and affordable. While the AMR industry can be considered relatively young, technological advances and trends such as those in this article are driving the impressive growth in AMR capabilities and their adoption in the market.
Also Read: Robots: What They Are, How They Work