The convergence of declining costs, geopolitical pressures, and AI advancements positions robotics as a critical agenda item for business leaders in 2024 and beyond. Robotics’ transformative potential extends beyond manufacturing, reaching sectors like healthcare and logistics, offering opportunities for enhanced productivity, cost reduction, and innovation.
According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics published by last July, “World Robotics Report: ‘All-Time High’ with Half a Million Robots Installed in One Year,” by 2021, 3.5 million industrial robots operated globally, reaching an all-time high. Recent developments indicate that robotics’ impact will extend beyond manufacturing.
Three accelerators are pushing forward the use of robotics: improved economics, AI advances, and geopolitical trends.
First, technology, including automation through robotics, is mitigating inflationary pressures caused by the post-pandemic economic landscape. Moreover, the historically tight labor market and supply chain disruptions drive companies to seek cost-efficient solutions. Whereas, automation efficiencies were initially out of reach for smaller companies, but decreasing robot costs and new as-a-service models are making them more accessible.
Secondly, globalized supply chain fragility, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions, prompts up businesses to consider reshoring or nearshoring. Furthermore, labor shortages create opportunities for automation and robotics, with China leading in robotics adoption.
Thirdly, robotics and AI are interconnected, with AI playing a crucial role in advancing the capabilities of robots. Advances in AI, especially large language models (LLMs), are lowering the cost barrier for smaller businesses and improving human-robot collaboration. New forms of AI, are seen as key drivers for the next generation of AI robotics.