Robotic technologies are exhibiting a steady growth rate over the years, and the year 2022 is no different. From delivery drones to autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), a range of innovative new robotic technologies will likely make their way to the market this year. Let’s take a look at some of the potential technologies in robotics that are going to play a significant role in the year 2022.
In the past few years, leaders in the robotics space have been busy developing technologies for robots to become autonomous. For instance, the Amazon Astro was an attempt from the retail giant to build a personal robot. This robot can move around a house, scanning for people, accepting orders, and even helping out with some tasks.
Recently, Hyundai revealed their PnD Robot, which is proposed to make inanimate things mobile. The idea behind the robot is to be a storage box on wheels. Essentially, anything placed in the PnD robot can move around thanks to the robot platform. This mobile robot has a set of sensors like LiDAR to capture environment data and navigate tricky spaces with ease.
While numerous such examples demonstrate autonomy, the common elements that facilitate autonomous navigation in these robots are cameras and sensors like LiDAR. With these sensing technologies, robots become capable of mapping their surroundings and avoiding any obstacles while navigating from one place to another.
Unmanned Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are flying robots that don’t need human guidance or piloting. Instead, it can execute a task while handling navigation independently, thanks to onboard sensors and GPS.
UAVs were once thought to be military drones used for surveillance operations. However, in 2022, the term UAV is very broad and encompasses various products meant for different sectors. One of the attractive applications of drones is in the logistics sector to take care of last-mile delivery. Studies show that drone deliveries are 90% cheaper compared to car-based services.
The Wing Drone Delivery robots from Google’s parent company Alphabet have already started drone package deliveries in Australia. Another company, Manna, completed around 2000 – 3000 deliveries through drones in Ireland.
The sensors onboard the UAVs scan the surroundings multiple times per second to identify any obstacles. These advanced drives leverage AI to use the sensor data and navigate the charted plot. If faced with any obstruction, UAVs can be programmed to find a way around it or return to their starting point while notifying the operators.
AGVs or Autonomous Guided Vehicles, also called Self-Guided Vehicles, come in different shapes and sizes. You can find them in warehouses, carrying pallets or light loads from one place to another. Or at mines, hauling tons of rocks and raw materials to and from the mines without any human intervention.
Currently, warehouses and storage depots are the major employers of AGVs. However, that is going to change in 2022 as more and more sectors are realizing the merits of automated systems that can get goods to a spot when they need it, where they need it.
As the name suggests, AGVs are guided vehicles that use guidance techniques for navigation. There are different guidance techniques based on the sensor technology used. These include laser-guided navigation, magnetic navigation, natural features (or natural targeting), and free navigation. AGVs use a mix of sensors to ensure that they can identify any potential obstacles in their path.
AMRs and AGVs differ in terms of guidance technology. While AGVs need markers to navigate, AMRs are fully capable of navigating themselves. Even if an obstacle is present in front of the AMR, it will try to plan a route around it.
The delivery robot from Starship Technologies is an excellent example of AMRs. The robot can navigate autonomously within a radius of 6 kilometers and helps with the delivery of groceries, packages, and food.
The Autonomous Weeder robot from Carbon Robotics is another example of an AMR. This robot is designed to go around a field to identify and destroy weeds. The robot uses a high-energy laser beam to destroy the weed plant. The cameras onboard the robots and AI ensure that it only targets weeds and avoids beneficial plants.
AMRs are now seeping into different business sectors, and in 2022, we will see more capable AMRs helping our society.
Sensors play an integral role in enabling robotic technologies like AMR, AGVs, and UAVs. Hence, quality sensors are critical to developing high-performance robots. At Hokuyo, we provide high-quality, scalable, and competitively priced sensor products to support your robotic applications.