Date posted: 12/13/21, 10:57 AM

When the pandemic led to an acute shortage of human labor, we realized the importance of robots and the need for autonomous operations like never before. The year 2021 has undoubtedly been the year that contributed a great deal to industry 4.0, particularly emphasizing the role of robotics and automation.

From articulated and collaborative robots to Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs), the global demand for industrial robots is expected to increase across several industries, reaching USD 75.3 billion in market value by 2026. Therefore, the robotics industry will need to evolve rapidly over the coming years to cater to this growing global demand.

Let’s look at the five major things to expect in the robotics industry in 2022.

1. The Need for Robotic Vision

Robots are highly dexterous today. However, their visual prowess needs more work. With concepts like machine vision, robots will become more capable of understanding their surroundings and the objects they see. With autonomous robots becoming more popular, we will likely see these technologies integrated into future industrial robots, enabling them to perform more efficient inspection and process control.

With machine vision already passing the awareness phase, the emerging technology is ripe for commercial applications. By 2022, robotics companies are likely to invest more in machine vision. And, with the help of AI and machine learning, robots of the future will be able to distinguish between objects better and understand more about their environment. This upgrade will increase the robot’s mobility, safety, and efficiency.

2. The Rise of Robots in the Electronics Industry

Currently, the automobile industry uses the most robots for manufacturing tasks. However, the electronic industry is catching up quickly. By 2025, it is expected that the electronics industry will match the automobile industry in terms of using manufacturing robots.

The year 2022 will set the framework that will eventually lead to that goal. The year 2020 and 2021 hit the world with the global chip shortage, leading to computer parts prices skyrocketing, crippling the automobile industry. Automakers were losing millions because they could not source the chips.

With robots, the electronics industry can increase production, cut down losses and keep the plant running 24/7 to meet the demands.

3. The Move Towards “Lights-Out” Manufacturing Philosophy

Lights-out manufacturing gets its name from the fact that a manufacturing plant that adopts this philosophy doesn’t need lights since the robots can work in darkness. So, in theory, a lights-out manufacturing plant can keep operating 24/7 with an exception made for routine maintenances and repairs. FANUC, a robot manufacturer in Japan, uses this philosophy in its factory, where a robot handles every process.

Companies are slowly moving towards this philosophy, and 2022 is shaping up to be a year where companies will either create the framework or start implementing a lights-out manufacturing plant for their products.

4. Autonomous is the Future

Currently, we are witnessing the rise of autonomous robots. From vacuum cleaners to delivery robots, they can navigate and communicate with their human owners and stop their operation if they detect an obstruction.

In 2022, we will be seeing more robots turning autonomous. Industries like automotive, warehousing, electronics, and logistics are increasingly investing in autonomous robots to improve productivity and efficiency.

5. Robot Prices Will Keep Falling

Robot prices are going down compared to rising labor costs, and we expect the trend to continue to 2022.

With more companies involved in manufacturing robots, there are now more choices, as well as specialized robots for specific industries. In addition, mass-produced robots mean that their prices go down over time.

Price is certainly a barrier for many companies that plan to install robots. However, with robots’ prices falling, more industries are likely to invest in robots over the coming years.

2022 is Going to Be a Great Year for Robotics

With better hardware and software availability, reducing prices, and integration of emerging technologies such as machine vision, AI, and machine learning, 2022 will be a year where robots will enter several industries where the automation potential went untapped.

In addition to these advances, sensor technology will continue playing a critical role in providing robots the capabilities to do more. For instance, sensors like LiDAR allow a robot to see and judge distance. Pressure sensors help them understand how much force they are applying. With infrared sensors, robots can measure the heat coming off an object.

As one of the leaders in sensor manufacturing, we consistently strive to develop advanced sensors for a range of robotics applications, enabling OEMs and innovators to build next-generation robots for the world.

From factory and logistics to process automation, Hokuyo offers scalable, competitively-priced products to support your robotics applications. Contact us to learn more.