Some predictions for the year ahead

How many among us would want to make predictions when the coronavirus in a variety of new forms is still wreaking havoc on all our lives? Not many.

Nonetheless, there are some who have sent in some thoughts about what they believe will be key trends to watch out for in 2022. Below are a selection of them.

“The fallout from Covid-19 prevention measures, the process of transitioning from pandemic to endemic disease, and global political tensions weigh heavily on the coming year’s fortunes,” says Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research.

ABI has produced a new report which looks at 70 Technology Trends That Will – and Will Not – Shape 2022. According to ABI, what will happen in 2022 is:

Hardware-based Robot Operating System optimization

Robotics processor vendors will increasingly offer Robot Operating System (ROS)-based solutions for hardware acceleration across the entirety of robotics offerings.

This should help tackle the problem of system integration and entice developers to adopt more off-the-shelf processors and hardware.

Furthermore, the hardware-software optimization will provide a set of benchmarks and standards for the field, which is fairly fragmented at the moment, accelerating the time-to-market.

As a total of 45,000 cobots and 452,000 mobile robots are expected to be shipped in 2022, a 65 percent and 51 percent Y-o-Y growth, end users are expected to benefit from the tighter integration.

What will not happen in 2022 includes:

The democratization of robotics expertise

While the emergence of ROS and various robotics startups will offer real advances in the short term, robotics as a whole suffers from a significant shortage in expertise.

In the long run, this will have an adverse effect on development and commercialization. Considerable investment in resource- and time-intensive areas requiring experts from different fields is badly needed, but this will not happen anytime soon.

Meanwhile, looking way beyond 2022, Daniel Theobald, chief innovation officer at Vecna Robotics, says:

The next decade will bring new demand for warehouse positions

Before the end of this decade, warehouse positions will become highly desirable jobs that make workers feel like material handling Avengers – tech-enabled heroes that are sworn to do good and are driven to deliver results!

What was previously considered an undesirable job, working in a warehouse will rise to the top of the list as one of the most desirable career paths in the coming years.

How and why? There’s a shifting mindset happening amongst employers in warehousing, distribution and manufacturing.

No longer are these types of organizations looking to replace human workers with smart technologies to fill the human labor shortage.

Instead, they’re looking to deploy automation to maximize the value of their existing workforce to keep human workers happy, challenged and fulfilled in their day-to-day roles, increasing the likelihood they will remain at the company.

By deploying better tools to assist human workers, individuals are empowered to elevate their role by focusing only on value-added tasks requiring human insights, no longer spending time on the dirty, mundane, dangerous tasks robots can now do that were once required of people.

Paul Baldassari, EVP US and component operations, strategy and excellence, Flex says:

The need for flexibility drives greater push for Industry 4.0 investments

The manufacturing industry has shown its resilience over time, but it’s been tested more than ever over the past two years.

The pandemic, supply chain disruptions, component shortages and price increases, and labor availability have greatly challenged production scheduling.

As a result, manufactures have been forced to embrace flexibility, searching for the right Industry 4.0 tools that support production in unpredictable times.

As a result, in 2022, I predict the industry will see an influx of investment in automation and digitization. While these tools aren’t silver bullets, automation can help ease labor concerns, adapt to unbalanced demand cycles and empower workers to up-level on more critical tasks.

Likewise, digitization will help organizations increase visibility into processes, scheduling and the supply chain to predict problems before they occur and help make better decisions in real-time. The technology has proven its value, and 2022 will be the year of mass adoption across the industry.

And finally, Gabriel Aguiar Noury, robotics product manager at Canonical, the organisation which publishes Ubuntu, the open source computer operating system, speaks of…

The need for open-source in robotics

“Despite the market boost that the pandemic provided to the robotics industry, 2021 showed us that isolated projects based on proprietary technology carry bigger market risks than open ones.

“In order to survive and thrive, the robotics industry must stop thinking that secrecy is necessary for innovation, and will need to embrace open-source.

“This is especially true for the service robots market, where working in non-sterile environments only increases complexity. The decline of Softbank Robotics is a clear illustration of the limitations of closed-off projects in this field. After 7 years of being on the market, Pepper robot left us with several lessons.

“The main one is the importance of community and open-source contributions. The deployment of closed devices, from in-house voice recognition to troublesome development tools and poor ecosystem of apps, were not capable of keeping up with customer expectations or technology advancements.

“In the end, the project was deemed too expensive to keep innovating and addressing customers’ needs. This could have been avoided with community contributions supporting the technology’s advancement.

“Robotics companies that want to succeed in the service sector will need to natively support open-source tools. For more than a decade, Ubuntu has been driving innovation in the robotics community by providing the best operating system (OS) for groundbreaking research.

“On top of it, several open-source projects have found a home, such as the Robot Operating System (ROS). Ultimately, projects like these will be the difference between companies producing legacy technology or future-proofed devices, with a rich ecosystem of applications and tooling for companies to leverage.

“This is why Canonical is committed to providing the robotics industry with the infrastructure needed to consume secure open-source resources, and to develop, and maintain solutions in the field while leveraging the community’s contribution.”

Our prediction? It will take a long time to get over coronavirus, and pick up the pieces from the wreckage it has caused to the economy, society and millions of people’s lives. We hope everyone recover quickly and will try and provide support to startup and other companies, readers and sponsors where we can. And we take this opportunity to thank all our readers for another year of support and interest in what we are doing at this website.

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