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How Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are making a mark on the planet... and beyond!


31st August - Valencia.

According to Next Move Strategy Consulting, the global market for mobile robots was estimated at 10.7 billion USD in 2020, and is projected to reach the size of 72.5 billion USD by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 21% over the analysis period 2020-2030. Mobile robots are capable of locomotion in different kinds of environments, depending on the type of mobile robot. They are able to travel either in air, land, underwater or in space.

Mobile robots refer to non-stationary robots that operate without human intervention.

Key trends and drivers for growth have traditionally aligned with where human tasks could be automated or in increasing concern for human labour safety or even completing dangerous tasks. There is an increasing demand for mobile robots in various sectors. Optimizing business processes, resolving human constraints and efficient management of industry-specific activities that further supplement the growth of the market.


The rise of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

There are different types of Mobile Robot. In today’s competitive and expensive business environment, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are increasingly being used to transport materials within warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Elsewhere, particularly in hospitals, airports, and schools, AMRs disinfect public places or deliver medicine and food to patients. A significant aspect of AMRs compared to conventional logistics solutions like forklifts, conveyor belts, and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) is their built-in intelligence. Rather than moving along a set of tracks or sensors built into the infrastructure, like an AGV requires, AMRs autonomously move along the factory floor track-free, bypassing obstacles in their path and even finding new paths on their own.

While the AGV is restricted to following fixed routes, the AMR navigates via maps that its software constructs on-site or via pre-loaded facility drawings. This capability can be compared to a car with a GPS and a pre-loaded set of maps. When it is taught the owner’s home and work address, it generates the most direct path based on simple positions on the map. This is similar to the way the AMR is taught locations to pick up and drop of parts. The AMR uses data from cameras and built-in sensors and laser scanners as well as sophisticated software that enables it to detect its surroundings and choose the most efficient route to the target. 


Use of Real-time correlative scan matching

In order to accurately map the position of AMRs in relation to obstacles algorithms and sensors are developed for specific customised activity. AMRs use Real- Time Correlative Scan matching to determine the relative positions from which the scans were obtained, is one of the most heavily relied-upon tools for mobile robots. This expertise is continually being developed to take on more and more applications.


The Autonomous Mobile Robot Market Dynamics

The AMR market is essentially on a path similar to personal computers in the 1990’s, where the computing power curve continued to rise while component costs continued to decrease. Once computer platforms became generic, the innovation and investment moved to the software and applications. There are a few factors that will influence software innovation:

  1. New AMR safety protocols will emerge with the adoption of ?ANSI/RIA 15.08 in 2021. This will influence the creation of new robot operational algorithms and as a result, require software updates to worldwide fleets of AMRs. This will likely happen in the second half of 2021, and spill over into 2022.
  2. AMR vendors will continue to differentiate primarily on their solution capabilities, rather than simply the technical specs of their hardware platforms. This means that beyond the robustness of the hardware, a solution’s software capabilities will remain a key selling factor.
  3. The functional areas that rely on software include:
    • Perception
    • Localization & navigation
    • Integration of machine learning and AI-based algorithms
    • Mapping
    • Fleet management
    • Task queuing
    • Remote operation


Advancing Technology – and services

  1. Open Source Operating Systems

The digital transformation of manufacturing, automated assembly, logistics, and more is being enabled by fleets of robots made ever-smarter through a combination of Industry 4.0/Industrial Internet of Things technology, including artificial intelligence (AI).

As applications get more and more diverse so there is a greater need for software programmes to drive the AMR. That is why some companies such as OpenRobotics and ROS are creating Open Source Operating Systems to simplify the task of creating complex and robust robot behaviour across a wide variety of robotic platforms. Some Mobile robot applications have even found their way onto the lunar surface through the mobile rover.

However creating general-purpose robot software is hard. It needs specialists from different areas of expertise for collaborative robotics software development. The time now from novel lab experiment to commercial adoption, once measured in decades, can now elapse in a matter of months, accelerated by the use of common open platforms.

  1. Introduction to Robots-as-a-Service

The business model for buying and selling industrial equipment is rapidly evolving. The convergence of cloud-based solutions for IT infrastructure and the success of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enterprise software licensing is now influencing how Autonomous Mobile Robot companies are selling their solutions. Autonomous Mobile Robot companies such as inVia Robotics, Savioke, Cobalt Robotics and Knightscope have demonstrated success in delivering solutions with business models which enable customers to pay-as-they-go in a subscription or metric-based financing model.

  1. Other areas of development

The pandemic has already pushed exponential growth in Ecommerce and warehouse fulfilment. Warehouse automation, is now THE most mature of AMR-based applications. This is the result of the fact that warehouse managers around the world continue to struggle with labour, staffing and retention issues. Automation provides managers with the opportunity to help smooth fulfilment workflow and improve throughput.

In logistics, the FAA just announced changes to drone regulations, and opened the door for commercial drone delivery directly to consumers. This is now going to be a time for evolution and growth of both autonomous drones and autonomous delivery vehicles where we’re likely to see investment and innovation over the next two years.

Other areas of deployment and investment include Aerospace, Automotive, Healthcare and Maritime.


The need for Expert skills in AMR

The exponential growth in the power of silicon chips, digital sensors, and high-bandwidth communications improves robots, so the cost of robots has declined, which has also increased demand (RBC Global Asset Management, 2014). Keeping that in mind, it would be logical to expect that demand for relevant skills of robotics specialists would also grow. For robotics to continue to develop and spread worldwide, people capable of creating and maintaining these advanced devices are required. A wide range of applications for robotic devices and systems determine the wide variety of knowledge and skills that robotics professionals must have. Some skills are new and have emerged together with modern technologies, and some have been relevant for a long time already, but are now required in particular combinations (“skill sets”).

To find these types of expert skills requires knowledge and experience in the Market. Companies like CIS with over 20 years finding and placing skilled Embedded Systems and Electronic Engineers in the robotics market. To make sure your next project is covered contact Hollie Webber on holliew@cis-ee.com or 0034 960 038 627.