2021 was a boom year for the field of robotics. Between the chaos of a global pandemic, recurring shortages in labor, blunders in the supply chain on an international level and a returned focus on touch-free and automated services, the interest in robotic versions of existing systems has amped up.
Supply chains are dashing toward digitization as we reach Industry 4.0. Rivalries, especially in regard to industrial robotics, have pushed innovation and lowered the adoption threshold for automated solutions. Robots are being put into new markets, like food service, textiles, wood and plastics. Some companies have even worked to overhaul traditional approached to construction and infrastructure, raising efficiency. Lastly, the logistics sector has seen an explosive level of growth with the continuing rise of e-commerce and applications for automated sorting and mobile ground units.
Some people within the robotics industry believe that the adoption rate of robots is veering into an exponential one as humanity slowly crawls out from under the ravages of a pandemic.
The Manufacturing Sector
After experts looked at what the most lacking elements were in 2020, companies pushed to develop robots that could either clean and disinfect surfaces or check temperatures within high-risk areas; after all, a robot does not need to worry about catching a virus. These needs saw to the development of robots who can deploy UV-C light while also being a more cost effective and less toxic means of autonomous sanitation.
Given how effective and low-cost these sorts of disinfection solutions have been, it only seems logical that more and more hospitals and government fixtures will be making use of such technology on a regular basis. With such measures in place, even sectors like schools and large businesses can return to normal operations without risking infection in their children or staff.
This year saw the progression of manipulators from mere ball-kickers to machines that can carry groceries, write and even play games with a family.
The newest generations of robots have made strides from what their predecessors could do. Now, features like hand-eye coordination, multimodal emotional interplay and multi-terrain manipulation are easy to incorporate. All of these mechanisms have improved in reliability thanks to advancements within the film of AI, making robots smarter through a combination of computer vision and sensors. Robots will only continue to grow in versatility and precision over the years, making them just as suited to the home as they are in the workspace while being able to tackle more common tasks without issue.
While some might think that parents would want as little AI in the classroom as is possible, this is a rather limited understanding of what the modern classroom has become. AI is already present in most kids’ classrooms in some variety or another, be it asking Alexa for simulations of a game or LMS systems used by the teacher to gauge student performance. Considering how far AI has come and still has room to grow, kids are going to need to get more familiar with the technology than Generation X and Millennials did with the bare bones computer labs of their formative educational years.
Some companies have established entire divisions focused on the field of education. These divisions focus on ways to comprehensively teach all facets of AI to kids, as well as how such a resource could be used for everyday situations in the world outside of school. If one of the purposes of school is to prepare future generations for the jobs awaiting them, an understanding of AI and AI-implementation will be a huge boon to employability and success.