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Navigating their way ahead, mobile robots are the latest breakthroughs in the industry. They can go where humans cannot and work in conditions that would be otherwise impossible.
The robotics industry is huge: according to Mordor Intelligence, it was valued at $39.72 billion in 2019 and is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 25.38% between 2020 to 2025.
One of the most important areas in that industry is mobile robotics. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) are becoming increasingly popular. Fully free navigation robots are not wired and use a series of different sensor systems. This means they are able to give huge flexibility to industries across the board, without heavy upfront costs. They are agile – they can go up and down stairs – and can move on terrain not traditionally designed for robots.
Agility is one of the major reasons they are important, as well as the fact that it is possible to develop their intelligence without creating a new platform. They do not take jobs away from individuals by, for example, filming damage on an industrial site. Instead, they supplement the individual’s work and can also, detect damage by using other Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.
Robots can be used in hazardous environments
The applications for these robots are limitless, especially in fields such as the oil and gas industry. They can be used in extremely hazardous and toxic environments, which could be too dangerous or too loud for individuals to enter.
Mobile robots can be used in places where there is not enough space for bigger infrastructures or people, for example in canal inspection. The collection of information data is a very important aspect of this: it is secure and due to their multiple IOT sensors, they can collect far more information than an individual could do at the same time. They use machine-learning powered computer vision, the capability to extract meaning from digital images, for example highlighting different segments of a pipeline to detect leakages or abnormal temperatures.
Versatile application of robotic technology
Mobile robots can be used in many fields, including education and real estate, but their greatest use comes in industries that use production lines and construction sites, such as oil, gas and automotive.
Today companies build costly static infrastructure and installations to automatically scan vehicles and analyse the level of damages. Tomorrow the same companies will use mobile robots which can be moved anywhere to get a digital twin of a single car.
In the oil and gas sectors, robots can inspect the inside of engine rooms, where there might be huge levels of noise, very high temperatures and a toxic atmosphere but that still need regular inspections. They can inspect big plants and pipelines, where they can check on potential oil leaks. You don’t have to build and maintain the additional IT infrastructure (like cameras and static IoT sensors) to monitor your operating infrastructure. You can simply use mobile robots which will fit and adapt to any environment without extra cost.
ECE group, which manages shopping centres, have used mobile robots for specific damage detection. They have a big car park on different levels and a robot regularly checks for hole damage. This is cost effective and picks up damage before it becomes too serious.
Mobile robotics are becoming more accessible
When a robot is screening an area on a construction site, it can build a digital twin. That means that every day the site owner can check with the contractor if something is missing and it can also help when invoicing with a subcontractor.
AI is being used in conjunction with robots as existing solutions are being prepared for different scenarios. It will help develop new models to learn. In the future we will see more records. Technology is commoditising and prices are dropping, driven by the industrialisation of components. More AI applications are being shared and the broader the audience, the broader the use of mobile robotics.