Last year’s Robotics Summit & Expo was a rare opportunity to see Boston Dynamics CEO Mark Raibert describe his company’s groundbreaking work on mobile robots. Attendees at this year’s event will have the opportunity to learn from more robotics experts.
Robotics developers, suppliers, and users can attend keynotes, sessions, and panels on everything from sensing and machine learning to safety and commercialization. Here’s a preview of some of the programming at the Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston this coming June.
Must-see sessions at the 2019 Robotics Summit
Deepu Talla, vice president and general manager of autonomous machines at NVIDIA, will discuss various types of robots and emerging applications in his opening keynote on “Bringing AI-Powered Robots to Life” on Wednesday, June 5.
In “The Growing Pains of AGV Navigation,” David Mindell, CEO of Humatics, will explain how there is no “one size fits all” solution for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and Industry 4.0. In this session in the “Systems, Design, and Development” track, Mindell will look at how new sensors and microlocation technologies are affecting mobile robots.
One way in which autonomous mobile robots can deliver value to users is from the data that they collect. Tim Rowland, CEO of Jabil unit Badger Technologies, will explain “The Cerebral Side of Robotics,” as data analysis becomes just as important to the connected enterprise as materials handling.
What is “sole agent syndrome,” and what can mobile robot designers do about it? In his session on “Machine Learning for Human-like Behavior,” Russell Toris, director of robotics at Fetch Robotics, will show the dangers of over-optimization and the best techniques for getting robots to move smoothly and efficiently.
Current industrial robot safety standards are mature, but they are not enough to support certain types of robots, according to Joe Gelzhiser, safety application specialist supervisor at Sick. In “Navigating Mobile Robotics With 2-D Safety Lidar,” he will examine the proper application of such technology for “safe detection of persons.”
VSLAM, or vision-based simultaneous localization and mapping, has matured, enabling robotics developers to improve visual positioning for robots. In his session, Dominick Vanthienen, vice president of technology innovation at Intermodalics, will talk about how VSLAM can help robots be more aware of their surroundings. He will also discuss problems that still need to be solved.
Mobile robot market growing
While estimates vary on the value of the global market for mobile robots, industry associations and analyst firms agree that it will continue to grow. This is largely driven by the need for speedy e-commerce order fulfillment, the demand for more flexible operations in existing warehouses without adding new infrastructure, and improvements in sensors and software.
“Advancements in machine vision, simultaneous localization and mapping [SLAM], swarm intelligence, and sensor fusion are making it possible for mobile robots to operate in unstructured environments such as the factory warehouse and the assembly area,” said Lian Jye Su, principal analyst at ABI Research. “These technologies are being supported by many cameras and sensors, such as lidar and radar. Moving forward, the robots can benefit from the integration of deep-learning algorithms with sensor fusion and swarm intelligence.”
The global autonomous mobile robot market will experience a 24% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2018 and 2022, predicts Technavio. Transparency Market Research said it expects the market to grow from $8.58 billion in 2017 at a CAGR of 15.6% to $30.96 billion by 2025.
Similarly, BIS Research projects a CAGR of 19.67% between 2018 and 2023, with the mobile market reaching $9.9 billion in 2023. These numbers vary depending on whether defense robots, aerial drones, or other subcategories are included, but industrial platforms are still significant.
Other factors that could increase mobile robot adoption include the rise of mobile manipulation, a trend toward reshoring production in reaction to trade and labor concerns, and the proliferation of providers.
Where is mobile robot demand the strongest?
“North America is currently dominating the global mobile robot market,” said Rahul Papney, an analyst at BIS Research. “However, the geographical analysis of this market unveils a great potential for the growth in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Leading vendors of mobile robots include Aethon, Aubo Robotics, Clearpath, Fetch, Locus Robotics, Mobile Industrial Robts, Omron Adept Technology, Seegrid, and Swisslog, according to BIS Research.
More about mobility
As with many technologies, the U.S. Department of Defense has been an initial supporter of much mobile robot research and development. In “Transitioning From Defense to Commercial Markets,” Parag Batavia, president of the Neya Systems Division at Applied Research Associates, will explain how government funding can help robotics startups on the road to commercialization.
In his Day 2 keynote, Henrik Christensen, the Qualcomm chancellor’s chair of robot systems at the University of California, San Diego, and leader of the U.S. National Robotics Roadmap, will discuss R&D challenges and emerging use cases for robots of all kinds.
In “Service Robots for Commercial Spaces: The Path From Autonomous to Intelligent Robots,” attendees can learn how mobile service robots gaining new levels of autonomy. Marcio Macedo, co-founder and vice president of product and marketing at Ava Robotics, will describe how AI and the cloud are helping robots to function better in human environments.
Expo shines spotlight on components, suppliers
Robotics innovators, investors, and adopters can also participate in networking events, the AWS RoboMaker Immersion Day (on June 4), the Future of Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering Workshop, and the MassRobotics Robotics Engineering Career Fair. Academic discounts are available.