Robotics in the Dawning Era of Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence!
VDE-ITG/VDMA Interview with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Verl, Head of Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units (ISW), Stuttgart and Armin Wittmann, Exhibition Group Director automatica and LOPEC, Messe München´s shows for automation / robotics and printed electronic.
[VDE-ITG/VDMA] Dear Armin Wittmann, the automatica planned for 8-11 December 2020 will not take place due to the current tightening of travel restrictions in connection with the Corona pandemic.
[Wittmann] This decision was hard but certainly necessary. It had been taken by Messe München in agreement and close coordination with the VDMA Robotics + Automation as the conceptual sponsor and the automatica Advisory Board. In cooperation with the industry, Messe München is now developing a compact new in-person format for mid 2021, adapted to the requirements of the Corona era. In addition, automatica is further expanding its digital offering.
[VDE-ITG/VDMA] Nevertheless you are keeping the automatica fire burning. The most of us remember very well the last Messe München digital Event „ automatica Talk “on October 15 when you discussed the World Robotics Report 2020 with experts of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
Economic Slowdown caused by Corona has not stopped the Robotics Industry
[Wittmann] The international robotics market had been booming for years. And the economic slowdown caused by the Corona pandemic has not stopped the robotics industry. In the medium to long term, the prospects are positive: robots will be used even more in the future worldwide. In order to increase their competitiveness, companies in the industrialized and emerging countries will continue to optimize their production using robotics. In addition, more and more modern products - many of them particularly sustainable - cannot be manufactured without the use of robotics. This is one of the reasons why many experts believe that the COVID 19 crisis will even provide a long-term boost to robotics and automation.
[VDE-ITG/VDMA] The IFR's World Robotics Reports are the world's most important source of figures and statistics on the international robotics market. Governments, scientists, the financial world, companies and think tanks therefore regularly refer to the reports. Do you think that your positive message reached the industry?
[Wittmann] Yes, I am convinced about this. And we will not stop talking about automatica. In the next edition of the automatica Talk on December 8, 2020 from 13:00 to 14:30 CET, we will present the renowned Executive Roundtable of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). The focus of the panel discussion is on the topic: Next generation workforce - upskilling for robotics. https://automatica-munich.com/den/newsroom/webinare/automatica-talk-nr-4/
Beyond that the IERA Award will take place in a series of plenary lectures at a Joint Forum on December 9, 2020 from 14.45 to 15.45 CET. It highlights and honors the achievements of inventors with value creating ideas and entrepreneurs who propel those ideas into world-class products. The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE/RAS) and the IFR jointly sponsor the award - underlining their determination to promote stronger collaboration between science and industry in robotics.
Finalists present their story of a successful innovative product in robotics and automation - from inception to final state of commercialization. https://ifr.org/events/iera-award/
And the automatica Business Track Modul on 9 December 2020 (12:45 - 16:15 CET) and 10 December 2020 (10:40 - 15:20 CET) bridges the gap between manufacturers, developers and service providers to their target groups. This format complements the ISR and can be accessed free of charge by external visitors. https://www.isr-robotics.org/en/program
52nd International Symposium on Robotics ISR 2020
[VDE-ITG/VDMA] These activities are directly related to the Online-Event ISR - 52nd International Symposium on Robotics December 09-10, 2020. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Verl, Head of Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units is General Chair of this International Symposium on Robotics.
[Verl] The international conference ISR is jointly organized by the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) and the Information Technology Society (ITG) within VDE. It was originally organized as customary parallel to the automatica, the leading exhibition for smart automation and robotics. Due to the ongoing situation we decided to make it an Online Event. The topic is „Robotics in the dawning era of digitalization and artificial intelligence!“ In two conference tracks and a poster session over two days, the ISR 2020 offers an insight into the latest state-of-the-art robot technologies to participants from both industry and research. Sessions will be held on relevant topics such as Modeling, Planning and Control, as well as Components and Technologies. Developments from the area of Robotics in Production and Industrial Robots will also be addressed, as well as Service and Mobile Robotics, Robotics in New Markets & Applications and Human-robot-collaboration / Future of Work. Brand new is a Business Track in which guest speakers from industry present their current products and developments. The special session for the IERA Award finalists will round off the conference program.
Key Trends in Robotics Technologies
[VDE-ITG/VDMA] Key trends in robotics technologies promise to reshape the world as we know. Would you like to disclose us some of the next-gen robotics trends?
[Verl] Robotics is transforming many of today’s industrial sectors. It is predicted that by 2020, the robotics industry will be worth around US$100 billion. While robotics has successfully transformed manufacturing industries in recent decades, the next years will see it move beyond the assembly line areas. There is an increasingly widespread adoption of robots across food production, retail, healthcare. Some of the next-gen trends are:
Robots-As-A-Service (RaaS): With companies racing towards digital transformation and striving for innovation, the RaaS business models will gain traction. These robotics (business) models enable companies to complete repetitive and complex tasks in a shorter time. This allows enterprises to save operational expenses and reduce upfront investments in highly productive and demanding business activities. Besides, RaaS providers also offer rental and leasing services, thus augmenting the global robotics rental market and cutting costs in permanent deployment solutions.
Machine Learning in Robotics
Machine Learning in Robotics: For robotic systems, machine vision plays a pivotal role; without this, robots would be blind and unable to interact at work. Robots equipped with cameras can handle complicated tasks and make sure that the desired task is performed as required, while machine vision algorithms take care of the image analysis. Vision systems help robots to perceive objects and sense the environment and navigate accordingly safely avoiding with obstacles. Such features will be more common in robotic applications in the near future. Thus, operations connected with packaging, transportation, assembling, quality control can be performed by robots more efficiently.
Cloud Robotics: With this technology being integrated with others, robots are no exception. Thanks to cloud robotics, robots in shared services environment shall benefit from the powerful computational and storage abilities of the modern data centers. Even the RaaS business models can integrate cloud-based management and analytics services with physical robots. Thanks to cloud connectivity, it will be easier to monitor, manage, and maintain the robots remotely. E.g., the French robotic firm Gostai offers the GostaiNet, a cloud-based robotic infrastructure allowing robots to record videos and synthesize voice for face detection and speech recognition tasks.
Cobots: It is a portmanteau for collaborative robots. The idea here is that autonomous machines will supplement human labor. They provide timely assistance whenever we need it. Various SMEs in the automotive sector, rubber and plastic industry, food and beverage sector are leveraging the benefits such as lower costs and convenience in programming and integration offered by cobots. Now we also have cobots with impressive payload capacity and endurance. E.g., Comau’s huge Aura with a payload capacity of 110kg payload and FANUC’s large CR-35iA with a 35kg payload capacity. Meanwhile, MiR500 AGVs/cobots can travel as much as 30 miles per day. Some cobots can be customized to meet industrial requirement.
Delivery Robots: This has been one of the hottest trends this year. Hospitals are using these robots to transport test samples, while Starlink and DoorDash are already running door to door delivering food to people maintaining the social distancing due to COVID-19. Apart from that, some robots are used to work in large indoor spaces like Segway’s Loomo robot, which carries out the delivery of internal mail in workplace settings such as office blocks and shop floors. This trend also means that there will be a proliferation of drones in the future for similar delivery purposes.
[VDE-ITG/VDMA] Thank you very much Armin Wittmann and Alexander Verl for this interview. ISR 2020 offers the excellent opportunity for International Robotics Experts and Scientist to exchange their knowledge and keep in touch with the Global Robotics Player. We are looking forward meeting you online on December 09-10. For more information and Registration please visit the ISR website.
Interview conducted by Patrick Schwarzkopf, Managing Director of VDMA Robotics + Automation Association and Dr.-Ing. Christian Gross, Member of the Information Technology Society (ITG) within VDE, Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies