Data has become one of the most valuable resources in the manufacturing sector. New advances in data analysis and wireless technology enable factory owners to collect and analyze vast amounts of information. This data is then used to improve and streamline factory processes.
The rise of the smart industry has created a significant opportunity for robotics. Industry experts are taking advantage of this new, constant stream of information to create a new kind of data-driven robotics.
Discover six of trends taking off in data robotics.
1. Automated Mobile Robots
You can already find autonomous mobile robotics (AMRs) in warehouses and factory floors used to transport goods. These robots use AI-powered navigation technology to move across factory or warehouse floors without the need for outside input.
These robots aren’t designed for a specific factory or workflow but are instead intended to adapt to new and changing conditions using real-time AI analysis.
The tech that allows AMRs to navigate complex environments is implemented in co-bots as well, a type of robot that can work alongside humans.
2. AI-Powered Collaborative Robots
The implementation of robots does not mean replacing workers. Instead, collaborative robots make the manufacturing process easier for humans.
Scientists designed these bots specifically for small- and medium-sized businesses. These cobots, costing an average of $24,000, are more affordable than standard robotics technology.
The turn towards collaborative robots reflects a broader trend in robotics — less focus on full automation and more on streamlining processes.
3. IoT Monitoring and Smart Factory Integration
Advances in wireless connectivity technology enabled the rise of the smart factory, a place with a network of sensors and devices that collect data factory owners can use to streamline processes.
These factories use a massive number of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to report data and make robots more efficient — or shut them down in case of an emergency.
Robots use information from these networks to change the task they’re working on or reroute themselves based on updates from elsewhere on the floor.
4. Predictive Maintenance
Repairs can be a considerable cost for robots — in some cases, a combination of fixes and downtime can cost manufacturers nearly $3 million per robot. Predictive maintenance is a possible solution to this problem.
Individual pieces, like air compressors, have a range of uses in robots. Even if they’re not responsible for the robot’s primary functions, they can cause significant downtime when damaged, bringing operations to a halt.
This technology uses AI-powered data analytics to identify when robots are at risk of breaking down, earlier than a human operator can. By keeping track of information like machine timing and temperature, it’s possible to build a predictive model that helps factory managers know when a robot is at risk of failure.
Predictive maintenance will likely become a common feature of robots in the future. For some robot manufacturers, the technology has already become a standard feature of their robots.
5. Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented and virtual reality headsets are brought to the factory floor to give workers better data about the robots they work with. These devices will act as heads-up displays for employees working with robots.
At a glance, workers can see information about the robot’s current operations, or alert them to environmental conditions and special operating procedures. The headsets can also help walk new employees through the training process with a factory’s robots.
6. Better Cybersecurity
Robots are more connected than ever, relying on telecommunications technology to talk with other robots. They can learn what’s going on in the manufacturing process and offload some of the computing power they need to the cloud.
This technology makes recent advancements in robotics possible, but it also creates new risks. Without proper security, these robots can become an access point to a factory’s network. They provide an opportunity for a hacker to shut down or damage key infrastructure, or steal confidential data stored in the factory’s system.
Because robots last longer than traditional IoT devices, they’ll suffer for longer from security exploits.
As a result, robotics experts are increasingly aware of the importance of cybersecurity. Experts are looking for new ways to secure robots and the IoT devices they rely on.
How Data is Changing Robotics
Robotics experts use advancements like 5G, big data and AI to build smarter robots. Today’s technology can work alongside employees rather than replace them. These robots navigate complex environments by themselves, report critical operational information and shut down if at risk of mechanical failure.
Unfortunately, bots are at risk of cyberattack. Robotics experts need to balance connectivity with security as data becomes essential for advanced robot functions.