Robotics Industry to Shift from Fixed Automation to Mobile Systems
Omron exhibited what it calls an autonomous mobile manipulation solution—it integrates self-navigating LD mobile robots with Omron’s TM cobot arm. It’s a proof-of-concept demo that lets cobots move easily to wherever they need to be, making it useful for tending and resupply of things of materials or cases.
Kuka Robotics has taken a similar approach, mounting cobots on top of mobile robots and setting them to work together in a collaborative system. Its KMR iiwa combines its LBR iiwa lightweight robot with a mobile, flexible platform. As demonstrated in Kuka’s booth, the system adapts easily to changing manufacturing processes to optimize production. The robots can communicate with each other to more easily work together as a complete system.
AGVs vs AMRs
According to ABI Research, the distinction between AGVs and AMRs can be contested, but AMRs do not require external infrastructure to localize themselves and are built with sensors and cameras to self-navigate their environments. Currently, AGVs represent the majority of mobile robot shipments, but by 2030, this will change. While there will be 2.5 million AGVs shipped in 2030, the total shipments of AMRs will reach 2.9 million in the same year. This is due to the declining costs of superior navigation and the desire to build flexibility into robotic fleets.
“Many new verticals, like hospitality, delivery, and infrastructure, will demand systems that do not require external physical infrastructure to move about. While AGVs will thrive in intralogistics for fulfillment, especially in greenfield warehouses, AMRs solve the challenges faced by many end users by offering incremental automation that does not require a complete change of environmental infrastructure,” ABI Research’s Whitton explains.
In a major example of automation extending to new and important vehicle types, the shipments of automated forklifts are set to grow from 4,000 in 2020 to 455,000 in 2030, with a CAGR of 58.9%. Meanwhile, the revenue for all mobile robotics is expected to exceed US$224 billion by 2030, compared to US$39 billion for industrial and collaborative systems.
Even more esoteric form factors, like quadrupeds, are expected to increase significantly for data collection purposes, particularly for real estate, construction, and industrial inspection. ABI Research predicts that quadrupeds will increase to 29,000 yearly shipments by 2030.
“As mature sectors of the robotics industry achieve growth more in line with established technology markets, mobile robotics are set to create lasting transformative effects across the supply chain and will become increasingly ubiquitous throughout the global economy,” Whitton concludes.
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