The robots haven’t just landed in the workplace—they’re expanding skills, moving up the corporate ladder, showing awesome productivity and retention rates, and increasingly shoving aside their human counterparts. One multi-tasker bot, from Momentum Machines, can make (and flip) a gourmet hamburger in 10 seconds and could soon replace an entire McDonalds crew. A manufacturing device from Universal Robots doesn’t just solder, paint, screw, glue, and grasp—it builds new parts for itself on the fly when they wear out or bust. Recently, Google won a patent to start building worker robots with personalities.
As intelligent machines begin their march on labor and become more sophisticated and specialized than first-generation cousins like Roomba or Siri, there are concerns that AI and robotics will soon overhaul economy. Oxford University researchers have estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades. And if even half that number is closer to the mark, workers are in for a rude awakening.
Technological development in artificial intelligence, computer vision, navigation, MEMS sensor, and semiconductor technologies continue to drive innovation in the capability, performance, autonomy, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness of industrial and service robots. Robotics will continue to accelerate innovation, thus disrupting and changing the paradigm of business operations in many industries.
Trends for future:
Major robotics trends that are set to present opportunities and challenges to organizations in 2017 and beyond:
Growth of "robot as a service.": By 2019, 30 percent of commercial service robotic applications will be in the form of a robot-as-a-service (RaaS) business model. This will help cut costs for robot deployment.
Emergence of the chief robotics officer: By 2019, 30 percent of leading organizations will implement a chief robotics officer role and/or define a robotics-specific function within the business.
An evolving competitive landscape: By 2020, organizations will have a greater choice of vendors as new players enter the $80-billion information and communications technology market to support robotics deployment.
Robotics will face regulation: By 2019, government entities will begin implementing robotics-specific regulations to preserve jobs and to address concerns about security, safety, and privacy.
Rise of the software-defined robots: By 2020, 60 percent of robots will depend on cloud-based software to define new skills, cognitive capabilities, and application programs, leading to the formation of a robotics cloud marketplace.
Arrival of the Intelligent RoboNet: By 2020, 40 percent of commercial robots will become connected to a mesh of shared intelligence, resulting in 200 percent improvement in overall robotic operational efficiency.
Robotics for E-commerce: By 2018, 45 percent of the 200 leading global ecommerce and omni-channel commerce companies will deploy robotics systems in their order fulfillment warehousing and delivery operations.