A few decades ago, robots were considered as science fiction creatures than real-life entities. Today, the scenario has been changing. Robots or robotics are increasingly playing a significant role in our everyday lives.
Recent research by Statista reveals that the global market for industrial robots will witness steady growth between 2018 and 2028. In 2020, the size of the robotics market was estimated at around $55 billion, with around 2.7 million units of industrial robots worldwide. In 2028, the market size is projected to surpass $165 billion.
For instance, we have been going through news of robots meticulously cleaning a house, assisting surgeons in complicated operations with more precision and accuracy, and detecting suspicious packages for harmful materials like bombs and chemical weapons.
In short, robotics has become an inevitable part of automotive, electronics, industrial manufacturing, and infrastructure inspection. For example, they can use tooling that can detect flaws or cracks in a tunnel wall by using an ultrasonic device or by analyzing the sound within a tunnel.
These solutions are becoming more popular because they can perform visual and non-visual inspections and identify faults within critical pieces of equipment.
Robotics and Risk Mitigation in Infrastructure Inspection
Like humans, infrastructures like bridges, buildings, and factories also age with time. Therefore, it is essential to implement efficient Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) and other infrastructure practices to maintain their daily operation safely.
Small yet agile robots, drones, quadcopters, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) now make it possible to inspect the various aspects of infrastructure and, in some cases, carry out their tasks automatically. Today, it is also possible for robots to leverage AI and perform predictive maintenance.
Industries in which Robots are Performing Infrastructure Inspections:
• Rail industry
• Power industry
• Automotive industry
The data-driven and AI-powered robots can conduct efficient infrastructure inspection and protection. They can also ensure the structural and operational integrity of assets and ensure the safety of facility personnel and the general public.
Let's look at how robotics assist risk mitigation in infrastructure inspection.
- Robots eliminate or minimize the need for human entry into hazardous environments. Therefore, it significantly reduces risk and the cost of associated insurance premiums.
- They bring down the requirements for venting enclosed areas and erecting scaffolding. Therefore, these robots shorten the downtime of infrastructural assets.
- Autonomous robots also help in reducing environmental risks dramatically.
- Robots can also aid in superior data collection as they make few errors relative to humans and can access and analyze areas difficult for humans to access and gather data.
- Robots can make better decisions using high-quality data following necessary infrastructure inspection and maintenance schedules.
Robot solutions are being utilized for inspections of transmission towers as well…
The use of robots for the inspection of transmission towers has been proven to mitigate risks without sacrificing the safety of tower inspectors. The robots can use wireless technology and power lines to execute these inspections.
There are several different types of robots that are used for transmission tower inspections, including:
- Robotic manipulators
- Climbing robots
- Tethered robots
- Flapping winged robots
Tower inspection is usually carried out by human beings who are exposed to several hazards, including falls from height, electrocution, or even death in case they fall on conductors at high voltage levels. Despite all these risks, there is still a long time between inspections due to lack of money or personnel available for this kind of work.
Robots have been designed and developed specifically for this kind of job because they are able to go up the structure safely and inspect it through the use of wireless technology and power lines, without having to sacrifice the safety of tower inspectors or cause disruption in transmission service due to their absence on such sites during inspection hours.
The use of robots to inspect transmission towers is a great example of how the introduction of new technologies is helping to mitigate risk. Robots can be used to inspect towers without risking human life and are able to perform visual and non-visual inspections, which means that faults within critical pieces of equipment can be detected early on.
- Inspections of transmission towers
- Inspect towers without risking human life
- Perform visual and non-visual inspections
- Detect faults within critical pieces of equipment
Industrial, logistical, and collaborative robots all have their jobs to do — just like robotics designers and developers do. Robotic systems have been increasingly studied and applied to enhance current inspection practices to minimize the costs, risks, and disruptions associated with infrastructural inspections.
As a result, the last two decades have seen exponential growth in the application of such systems combined with the greater variety of commercial robots.
Nexus of Sensor Technology and Robotics
The advent and application of many innovative, miniature and low-cost sensor technologies lie at the heart of modern yet sophisticated robots. Sensors give robots sensing capabilities like audio, vision, touch, and movement. Modern sensor technology uses algorithms that decipher environmental feedback or sensory data.
Today's robotics revolution compels most robot designers and developers to fit high-end sensors into their robotic equipment to meet the challenges associated with infrastructure inspection, protection, and maintenance. For example, the sensor technology system in collaborative robots should detect not only the proximity of a human but also must prevent any possible collision between the robot and the humans nearby.
Some vital sensor technologies that play a significant role in next-generation robotics include LiDARs, magnetic position, gesture, force torque, and power management sensors. Robots have also been able to perform tasks that humans cannot do because they are too dangerous or difficult for humans to do safely.
This means that robots may someday be able to do jobs that people currently hold such as construction workers who build bridges and buildings or even pilots who fly fighter jets over enemy territory!
However, meeting the design requirements of sophisticated sensor technologies is not easy. One of the primary reasons is that sensor ranges, capabilities, and resolutions must change as per the industrial environments.
Hokuyo USA - Your Robotic Sensing Solution
When selecting sensor technology products for factory, logistics, and process automation, Hokuyo offers a wide array of industrial sensor technology products.
At Hokuyo, we support Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), end-users, integrators, Research and Development (R&D) firms, and resellers in manufacturing, metals industry applications, material handling, and autonomous robotics across North America.
Our sensor products include LiDARs, safety lasers, and obstacle-detection scanners. We also provide high-end collision-avoidance sensors and optical data transmission devices.
At Hokuyo, we combine trustworthy technology, broader product distribution, and unparalleled service and support to meet our customers' needs. Contact us to learn more.