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Mobile robot use to increase in global logistics, service industries: report


BlueBotics mini™ mobile robots in operation at ABB’s semiconductormanufacturing plant in Lenzburg, Switzerland. Photo: ABB/IFR

Use of mobile robots is on the rise around the world, according to a new report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

For example, unit sales of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in the logistics sector are expected to increase by 31 per cent between 2020 and 2023 annually.

Simultaneously, the use of AMRs in public environments will also go up rapidly – IFR predicts unit sales will grow by 40 per cent per year worldwide.

“Mobile robots have traditionally operated in industrial settings to transport parts throughout the factory or feed machines,” says Milton Guerry, president of the International Federation of Robotics.

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“Today, AMRs also work in applications where contact with the general public is intended. They provide information to shoppers, deliver room service orders in hotels or support police officers by patrolling city areas. IFR’s mobile revolution paper gives an overview of the main use cases for mobile robots and their most significant impacts.”

The rise of AMRs

While researchers have worked on technologies for autonomous mobility since the 1940s, autonomous mobile robots have only become commercially viable over the last decade.

This is primarily due to the availability of far more powerful and cheaper computing power. This has led to rapid developments in sensor, vision and analytics technologies, which enable robots to connect in real-time to their environment.

AMRs now navigate and perform functions autonomously in industrial and service sectors, showing double-digit growth.

“Mobile robotics is a dynamic field of development and we expect exciting advances over the next decade,” says Guerry.

He notes that these advances will take place in both hardware and software. Mobile robots will become lighter and more flexible.

AMRs and service robots will be able to navigate in a range of indoor and outdoor environments more easily as advances in sensors and software algorithms mean that navigation and vision become more and more precise.

The IFR’s new research paper “A Mobile Revolution: How mobility is reshaping robotics” is now available for download.