Robotics

The Latest in Robotics: A Focus on Industrial Robots

15 Min
May 02, 2024
Robotics Trend

What to expect?

The future of robotics is here! With the current developments in automation and the use of industrial robots, we are revolutionizing production processes worldwide. Discover how the democratization of robots enables companies of all sizes to benefit from this technology. Get ready for the next level of efficiency and innovation!

1. Status Quo

Industrial robots are the tireless heroes of production. These highly specialized machines perform precise and repeatable movements, ideal for everything from automotive manufacturing to electronics assembly. They increase productivity, improve quality, and work around the clock. Industrial robots perform complex tasks with unparalleled precision, freeing up human labor and delivering consistently high quality.

 

Challenges and Solutions

The benefits of robotics are undeniable, but there are also challenges that need to be overcome. The integration of robotic systems into existing processes requires careful planning and adaptation. In addition, acquisition and maintenance costs can be high. But don’t worry, many manufacturers offer comprehensive support and training programs to ensure that companies can realize the full potential of their robots.

The integration of robotics into existing systems presents companies with several challenges. One significant obstacle is the high acquisition costs, which can be mitigated by financing and leasing options. The technical complexity and integration effort require careful planning and process adaptation as well as cooperation with specialized integration partners. Ongoing maintenance costs can be effectively managed through regular maintenance contracts and support programs. In addition, employee training needs are another challenge that can be addressed through comprehensive training programs and certifications. Through these strategic approaches, the hurdles of robotics integration can be successfully overcome and the benefits fully exploited.

A Comparison of Industrial Robots

With the latest developments in robotics and the integration of IoT technologies, the potential is being further exploited. Despite some challenges, robotics offers promising prospects for the future.

Industrial robots are characterized by key features such as speed, precision, safety, flexibility and operating costs. These characteristics influence their performance and suitability for different production processes.

The advantages of industrial robots lie in their high productivity and low error rate, which lead to consistent product quality. They reduce accidents at work as they can take on dangerous tasks and offer a wide range of applications thanks to their versatility. In the long term, they lead to considerable cost savings, despite the initial investment costs.

However, there are also disadvantages to consider. The high acquisition costs and maintenance requirements pose financial challenges. The integration effort and employee training requirements are additional factors that require time and resources. This high initial investment can be a hurdle for many companies, so careful planning and evaluation is necessary to fully realize the long-term benefits.

Industrial robots are an essential part of modern production. However, integrating them into existing systems is not a trivial matter.

What Types of Robots Are There?

  • Service robots
  • Medical robots
  • Surgical robots
  • Rehabilitation robots
  • Nursing robots
  • Agricultural robots
  • Logistics and warehouse robots
  • Autonomous transport vehicles
  • Picking robots
  • Inventory robots
  • Military and security robots
  • Drones Bomb disposal robots

Radio Technologies in Robotics: Optimization through RFID, BLE, LPWAN, NFC, 5G and RTLS

In robotics, wireless technologies play a crucial role in efficiently networking robots and optimizing their functions. Here is an overview of various wireless technologies and their applications in robotics:

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) enables fast identification and tracking of materials and components in real time, which improves inventory management. BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is used for wireless communication between robots and other devices to ensure fast and energy-efficient data transmission. LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) provides a cost-effective solution for connecting robots over long distances, ideal for industrial IoT applications.

NFC (Near Field Communication) is ideal for short-range data transmission, for example for the authentication of robots or the fast exchange of data between devices. 5G is revolutionizing robotics with its high bandwidth and extremely low latency, enabling real-time communication and control of robots in complex production environments. RTLS (Real-Time Locating Systems) is used to track the exact position of robots and other moving objects in real time, improving navigation and coordination in dynamic workspaces.

By integrating these wireless technologies, robots can operate more efficiently, safely and flexibly, leading to a significant optimization of production processes.

Advantages of Wireless Technologies in Robotics

  • Increased Efficiency: Fast data transmission and real-time communication improve the responsiveness of robots.
  • Precision: Accuracy in the localization and tracking of objects and robots.
  • Cost Savings: Reduced maintenance costs and optimized processes through automated data transmission.
  • Flexibility: Adaptability to different environments and requirements in industrial and commercial applications.

These wireless technologies are crucial for the further development of robotics and help to make robots more efficient, intelligent, and versatile. Discover the future of robotics with the latest wireless technology!

2. In Practice

The Goal of Digitalization: The Paperless Hospital

Medical products – such as sample material from the operating theatres, patient files or medication – are transported along a total of 8.5 kilometers of pneumatic tube system at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden. The outstanding feature here is that the delivery is made at an impressive 30 kilometers per hour. The result: the pneumatic tube system significantly shortens transportation times so that analysis results from the laboratories, which are required for diagnostics, for example, are available more quickly. This system is part of a comprehensive change in logistics, the first construction phase of which was completed in 2019. The next phase concerns the pharmacy and is due to be completed by 2024.

Teaser: 8.5 km Pneumatic Tube System Transports Approx. 600 Canisters Daily at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus
High Pressure Information at the University Hospital Dresden

“With this technology, we are optimizing the efficiency and speed of medical care. The faster a blood or tissue sample is analyzed in the laboratory, the faster the patient can be treated.”

Benjamin Reppe

Project Manager, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus

Logo University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden

Robotics Researchers Are Driving the Digital Revolution

Agriculture is experiencing a digital revolution, led by innovative research institutions. With agribots and networked sensors, they are focusing on area-specific precision farming and precise soil monitoring. Animal health is also being monitored automatically thanks to sensors. With precise inventory data, farmers are moving away from area-wide methods and focusing on precise sowing, fertilization, weed control and irrigation. This makes farming more efficient and sustainable than ever before.

Application Areas for Robot Systems

Robotics has made incredible progress in recent decades and is conquering numerous sectors. Robotic systems not only perform repetitive and dangerous tasks, but also increase efficiency and quality. In this section, we provide an exciting overview of the diverse areas of application for robotics and show how this technology is revolutionizing our working world and our everyday lives.

Industrial Applications

Robots play a crucial role in industry. They are mainly used in automotive production, electronics manufacturing, and heavy industry. Industrial robots perform tasks such as welding, painting, assembly, and quality control. They are able to carry out precise and repeatable work, which increases productivity and reduces the error rate.

Healthcare

Robotics has made groundbreaking progress in healthcare. Surgical robots assist with complex operations and enable minimally invasive procedures with high precision. Rehabilitation robots support patients during recovery and physiotherapy. Robots are also used in nursing care to take over routine tasks and relieve the burden on nursing staff. In addition, transport robots transport samples, blood reserves or medication.

Service and Household Robots

They take on tasks such as vacuuming, lawn mowing, and window cleaning. Service robots are also used in the catering and hotel industry, as waiters or concierges, for example. These robots improve comfort and efficiency in households and service companies.

Agricultural Robots

In agriculture, robots are helping to increase efficiency and sustainability. They take on tasks such as planting, harvesting, and weeding. Agricultural robots help to reduce the use of pesticides and increase yields. They enable precise and environmentally friendly cultivation of fields.

Logistics and Warehousing

Robots have become indispensable in the logistics sector. They move goods in warehouses, pick orders and optimize transport routes. The use of robots can shorten delivery times and increase efficiency in warehousing. Autonomous delivery robots are also on the rise and could take over the last mile of delivery in the future.

 

3. Panorama

The Importance of IoT in Robotics

The Internet of Things (IoT) plays a central role in modern robotics. IoT enables robots to be networked with other machines and systems. This allows data to be exchanged in real time and processes to be optimized. For example, a networked robot can independently report maintenance requirements and reduce downtimes. IoT helps to further increase efficiency and flexibility in production. It opens up new possibilities for automation.

Future Prospects for Industrial Robots

The future of industrial robots looks promising. As technology advances, robots will become increasingly powerful and versatile. They will find their way into even more sectors and open up new fields of application. Cooperation between humans and robots will also continue to increase. In the long term, robots will play an even greater role in industry and contribute to sustainable development. We can look forward to seeing what innovations the next few years will bring.

Innovations and New Technologies

Robotics is an area that is constantly characterized by innovation. New technologies such as machine learning and advanced sensor technology are driving development forward. Machine learning enables robots to learn from experience and improve their performance. Advanced sensors allow robots to better perceive their environment and work more precisely. Another important innovation is the development of soft robots that are flexible and adaptable. These robots can be used in areas where traditional robots reach their limits. Such innovations are helping to make robots increasingly versatile and capable.

Here are some of the latest developments:

  1. Collaborative Robots (Cobots)
  2. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
  3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  4. Soft Robotics
  5. Telerobotics

The Role of AI in Robotics

Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly important role in robotics. AI enables robots to perform complex tasks that were previously unthinkable. Robots can continuously improve their capabilities through machine learning. They can analyze large amounts of data and learn from this data to make better decisions. AI-based robots are able to adapt to changing environments and learn new tasks independently. This makes them particularly valuable in dynamic and complex environments. AI is the key to a new generation of robots that are smarter and more adaptable.

The Role of Imitation Learning in Robotics?

Imitation learning, also known as “learning from demonstrations” (LfD), is a revolutionary approach in robotics. Robots learn to master complex tasks by imitating human behavior. Instead of programming robots from scratch, they observe human actions and reproduce them independently.

How Does Imitation Learning Work?

Imitation learning is the future of robotics. Imitating human experts opens up endless possibilities for innovation and efficiency.

  1. Observation: The robot observes a human performing a specific task.
  2. Data Recording: All movements, actions, and decisions are recorded in real time.
  3. Analysis: The robot uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to analyze the recorded data.
  4. Imitation: The robot repeats the actions it has learned and adapts them if necessary in order to optimize them.

Advantages of Imitation Learning

  1. Fast Adaptation: Robots can learn new tasks faster because they directly adopt human behavior.
  2. Flexibility: Robots are able to master a variety of tasks without extensive programming.
  3. Efficiency: Learning from experts increases the efficiency and accuracy of robots.
  4. Cost Savings: Reduced development times and less programming effort lead to cost savings.

Application Areas

  • Industrial Automation: Robots can learn complex production processes by imitation.
  • Service Robotics: From caring for plants to serving drinks – the possibilities are endless.
  • Medical Robotics: Surgical robots can take over precise movements from experienced surgeons.
  • Autonomous Vehicles: Vehicles learn from human drivers to navigate more safely and efficiently.

Sustainability and Robotics

Another important topic is sustainability in robotics. Robots can help to improve sustainability in production. By using robots, resources can be used more efficiently and waste can be reduced. Robots can work more precisely and thus minimize material consumption. Robots are also used in agriculture to reduce the use of pesticides and increase yields. In logistics, robots help to optimize transport routes and reduce energy consumption. The integration of robots into sustainable production processes is an important step towards a more environmentally friendly industry.

Fraunhofer Institutes and Universities with a Focus on Robotics

Here is an overview of some Fraunhofer institutes and universities in Germany that focus on robotics.

  • Fraunhofer IPA (Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation):
    Industrial robotics, mobile robotics, service robotics, human-robot collaboration, automation solutions
  • Fraunhofer IFF (Institute for Factory Operation and Automation):
    Autonomous transport systems, robotics in logistics, flexible automation, robotics for agriculture
  • Fraunhofer IME (Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology):
    Robotics in biology, Automated high-throughput processes, Robotics in environmental technology
  • Fraunhofer IGD (Institute for Computer Graphics Research):
    Virtual reality and robotics, interactive robotics, simulation and visualization of robot systems
  • Technical University Munich (TUM):
    Robotics and artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, humanoid robotics, human-machine interaction
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT):
    Robotics and artificial intelligence, robotics for assistance systems, learning robot systems, human-robot collaboration
  • University of Stuttgart:
    Industrial robotics, mobile robotics, medical robotics, intelligent systems
  • RWTH Aachen:
    Robotics and autonomous systems, robotics in production technology, robotics for mobility, cognitive robotics
  • Technical University Dresden:
    Robotics and automation technology, robotics for medicine, robotics for microtechnology, service robotics

These institutions are leaders in robotics research and cover a broad spectrum of applications and technological developments. They make a significant contribution to further development and innovation in robotics.

Universities in Europe with a Focus on Robotics

Here is an overview of universities in Europe that specialize in robotics and their respective research focuses.

  • University of Southern Denmark (Denmark):
    Industrial robotics, collaborative robotics, healthcare robotics, automation technology
  • ETH Zürich (Switzerland):
    Robotics and AI, autonomous systems, drones, medical robotics
  • Universität Twente (The Netherlands):
    Soft robotics, humanoid robotics, medical robotics, sensor technologies
  • Université de Lorraine (France):
    Cognitive robotics, autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, robotics for environmental monitoring
  • Imperial College London (Great Britain):
    Robotics and AI, autonomous systems, medical robotics, rehabilitation technology
  • KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden):
    Cooperative robotics, mobile robotics, industrial robotics, sensors and actuators
  • Politecnico di Milano (Italy):
    Industrial robotics, autonomous systems, robotics for construction and agriculture
  • Universität Leuven (Belgium):
    Robotics and AI, autonomous systems, robotics in medicine, industrial automation
  • Universität Umeå (Sweden):
    Human-robot interaction, social robotics, autonomous systems

The Importance of Robotics for the DACH Region

The DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) plays a leading role in robotics. Germany, in particular, is known for its advanced automation technology and robot production. Many leading companies and research institutes in the region are working on the development of new robot technologies. The strong industrial base in the DACH region offers ideal conditions for the use of industrial robots. By using robots, companies in the region can increase their competitiveness and develop innovative products. The DACH region also plays a pioneering role in research, with numerous projects and collaborations in the field of robotics and AI.

Education and Training in Robotics

An important prerequisite for the successful use of industrial robots is the education and training of skilled workers. In the DACH region, there are many educational opportunities in the field of robotics and automation technology. Universities and universities of applied sciences offer specialized courses that prepare students for a career in this field. There are also numerous training opportunities for specialists in the industry. Many companies offer courses and training programs to bring their employees up to speed with the latest technology. Good training and continuous professional development are crucial to fully exploit the potential of robotics.

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