The COVID-19 pandemic put all aspects of our daily lives to the test. Perhaps nowhere was this as obvious as in the overstressed supply chains and product shortages experienced by retailers. These constraints are likely to guide robotics development and implementation in 2021.
Here are some things to look for as robotics enters a new year.
Until recently, robots were generally designed for a single task. But with the pandemic sending large swaths of the workforce home, companies with autonomous multi-purpose robots had a tactical advantage. Look for more robots that can switch between a variety of tasks on an as-needed basis.
Pinpointing Product Locations
Retail delivery businesses experienced explosive growth in 2020. Even customers who chose to shop in person were eager to find their needed items and get out. As we navigate the next phase of the pandemic, data-collecting robots that can share exact item locations and real-time inventory information are likely to become more and more popular.
In addition, these robots can be integrated with warehouse management, point-of-sale, and order management systems. This can help stores cope with sudden surges in demand, and hopefully reduce the number of empty shelves during future crises.
An autonomous robot doesn’t necessarily have to task-switch in order to do more than one thing. Attaching sensors and cameras to an autonomous robot will be an easy, common-sense way for companies to collect additional data throughout the sales floor. This data can ultimately be used to build a better customer experience while improving the bottom line.
The Impact of 5G
It’s too soon to know exactly how 5G will impact robotics, but the effects are likely to be significant. Previously unimaginable speed and bandwidth are coming into common usage. This means that robot designers and manufacturers won’t have to worry about scaling down data collection capabilities to match companies’ internet limitations. Unconstrained by today’s networks, the possibilities for new robotic technologies are limited only by imagination.
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