Analysts say construction and mining form the next robotics frontier
- Robots usually stay indoors where they're safe
- But now we're going to see increasing use of robots working outside or in dangerous environments
- And where they'll be taking humans out of danger's way
Up to now robots’ stamping grounds have been indoors - places like factories and warehouses, or in the home. They’ve been most scarce where they might be best suited - outside displacing human workers in a multitude of less structured, more challenging and, frankly, more dangerous environments. We’re talking mines, building sites and so on. One problem is that, like Dr Who’s Daleks, stairs and other uneven terrain tends to be a problem for an autonomous robot.
But that’s about to change as the robots get more capable and more robust.
“Construction robots may be involved in specific tasks, such as brick-laying, painting, loading, and bulldozing, we expect hundreds of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) in the next 2 years, mainly doing haulage,” says Rian Whitton, research analyst for ABI Research. “These robots help to protect workers from a hazardous working environment, reduce workplace injuries, and address labor shortages.”
Construction and Mining Represent the Next Frontier of Robotics Adoption Thanks to Automation Technology Advances
London, United Kingdom - 22 Jan 2019
In the past, for heavy industry-related locations like mines, robots must either be controlled by teleoperation or navigate autonomously across uneven terrain or within subterranean interiors with little to no human interaction. This was the same for construction sites, where robots must understand changing floor plans, keep track of inventory, and navigate stairs. Thanks to advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), wireless telecommunications, location-based technologies, and navigation systems, this is being realized. ABI Research , a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, believes that Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are making their way into mines and construction sites.
Modern robotics tend to be associated with either indoor environments like factories and warehouses, or in the home. But there is a multitude of other, less structured and more challenging environments where AMRs are only just beginning to proliferate. Advanced mobility enabling autonomous navigation will empower robotics vendors in construction, extraction and elsewhere. While in 2018, 28.7% of commercial robots’ shipments had some degree of autonomous navigation, in 2027, the percentage will be 79.3%.
“Construction robots may be involved in specific tasks, such as brick-laying, painting, loading, and bulldozing, we expect hundreds of AMRs in the next 2 years, mainly doing haulage,” said Rian Whitton, research analyst for ABI Research. “These robots help to protect workers from a hazardous working environment, reduce workplace injuries, and address labor shortages.”
For the robots to operate in challenging, hostile, and unsafe environments without human assistance, the key beneficiaries will be OEMs who choose to adopt navigation-providing operation systems (OS) from third-party providers. Specialist robot companies have a greater opportunity to attract capital due to increased interest, and with the formulation of cloud services from AWS and Google, have more opportunity than ever to develop advanced capabilities like mobile manipulation and advanced analytics. However. They will struggle to get an in-house solution off the ground without partnering with third-party providers on localization and navigation technologies. Given the complexity of localization, mapping, and navigation alone, a delegation of responsibility to third-party providers is often the best way to go. These types of partnerships are crucial as the OEMs have the industry know-how and existing infrastructure that address site-specific requirements.
“Therefore, while the proliferation of startups dedicated to building robotic platforms for construction-related tasks is intriguing, the more developed opportunity is currently the interaction between OS providers and traditional OEMs, like Komatsu and Caterpillar, in automating heavy vehicles used in mining extraction. These may be OS providers like Braincorp and Autonomous Solutions Inc., who specialize in navigation, or technology providers like location enabler Humatics. “However, as both industries continue to strive for cost efficiency and workplace safety, task-specific autonomous mobile robots hold the key to the future,” Whitton concluded.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Robotics in Construction & Extraction application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Industrial, Collaborative and Commercial Robotics research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis of key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.
About ABI Research
ABI Research provides strategic guidance for visionaries needing market foresight on the most compelling transformative technologies, which reshape workforces, identify holes in a market, create new business models and drive new revenue streams. ABI’s own research visionaries take stances early on those technologies, publishing groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms. ABI analysts deliver their conclusions and recommendations in easily and quickly absorbed formats to ensure proper context. Our analysts strategically guide visionaries to take action now and inspire their business to realize a bigger picture. For more information about ABI Research’s forecasting, consulting and teardown services, visionaries can contact us at +1.516.624.2500 in the Americas, +44.203.326.0140 in Europe, +65.6592.0290 in Asia-Pacific or visit www.abiresearch.com.
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