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Robotics: Moving Beyond Just the Factory Floor

By Dick Weisinger

Global spending on hardware, services and software for robotics is forecast to reach $240 billion by 2023, according to IDC. Discrete manufacturing is responsible for about half of all spending, followed by process manufacturing, resource industries, healthcare, and retail.

Dan Farrell, Technology Lead at Accenture, said that “we’ve recently seen huge advances in AI, sensors, speech recognition and computer vision. These technologies are combining with shrinking hardware costs and the rollout of 5G to make robotics more accessible than ever before. If you were to step into a factory or warehouse right now it’s likely you’d see some form of robotics. But to date that’s where they’ve stayed: firmly on the factory floor.”

But that is changing. Robots are becoming much more adept at operating in unstructured environments. This is enabling robots to work side by side humans and other robots in environments with greater variability.

A report by Accenture found that “human-robot interaction (HRI) research is making its way from academic research labs into the real world of robotic products and services. As robots are designed for use by untrained humans instead of only by highly trained professional operators (e.g., NASA engineers), robotic technologies can be used in a variety of new domains.”

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