Hardware, technology developments are driving the robotic revolution

Robotics and drones will be making major inroads beyond manufacturing according to IDTechEx thanks to developments in transistors, memory, sensors, energy storage, and electric motors.

10/10/2018


Figure 1: The anatomy of a new mobile robot includes cloud computing, data, algorithms, and many more aspects that weren't considered even a few years ago. Source: IDTechExThe world of robotics is changing and are increasingly becoming collaborative, mobile and intelligent as they leave their confines in factories to enter more aspects of industry and daily life. This trend will have profound long-term economical and societal consequences.

The report "New Robotics and Drones 2018-2038: Technologies, Forecasts, Players" forecasts the market for robots and drones will grow from $66 billion in 2018 to more than $210 billion in 2028. Interestingly, much of these new robotics will come from new robots and drones. The report forecasts these new robots and drones will come to represent 46% of the market in 2028, up from almost zero.

Why is this happening? The answer lies in the fact that advances in hardware and software components have become better and cheaper over time, turning once fantastical robotic ideas into a real commercial opportunity. The report considers developments in price-performance ratio of hardware components to make up a new robot from five aspects: transistors, memory, sensors, energy storage, and electric motors.

The anatomy of a new robot

The schematic below shows the hardware anatomy of a new robot. Here, we have assumed a mobile robot. Its intelligence unit consists of computing elements (e.g., transistors and memory), as well as sensors. Its mobility functions include electric motors and energy storage. At a higher level, there is a supporting infrastructure such as the internet and cloud computing storage. In the remainder of this article we will consider how all of these hardware components have evolved over time. This drastic improvement in price-performance has been the wealth creation engine of our time, boosting global productivity.

Exponential growth trends are driving changes in robotics

Consider the chart in figure 2. First focus on the "computing" line. It shows the cost of computing as a function of time from around 1940 to about now divided by the cost at the initial point in the series. The unit of measurement is the cost of a device capable of calculating 1600 million instruction per second. There has been a 12 order of magnitude fall in the cost of computing, which has been accompanied with an increase in performance. This has entailed an incremental year-over-year shrinkage of the device size. This exponential growth has helped make new robotics a commercial possibility.

Figure 2: Robot growth trends as related to battery power, electric motors, and memory technologies  such as hard disk, RAM, solid-state flash, cameras, and more. Courtesy: IDTechExThe unit of cost here is $/Mbit. There has also been cost reduction in hard drives, RAMs, and solid state memories. In fact, the rate of change in this industry has been so rapid that it has turned it into an academic case study for all those wishing to study the phenomena of disruption. Other technologies showing rapid cost falls include micro-electrical mechanical systems (MEMS) and other sensors. LIDAR prices will also start to fall as the transition towards improved mechanical control and solid-state versions take place.

The cost of sensing (data acquisition) and computing (data processing) have fallen dramatically over the year. The size and power consumption of these devices have also dramatically fallen. All these exponential trends have operated for multiple decades, bringing us to a point today that suddenly complex new robots (collaborative, mobile and intelligent) are becoming commercially viable.

There are two aspects of two hardware components that make up the mobility unit for mobile robots: energy storage and electric vehicles. First, consider energy storage. Here, the growth rates are limited by chemistry and are not exponential. But that is not to say they are unsubstantial.

Figure 2 shows the Li-ion batteries' energy packing capability has grown by 3 and 2.4 times in two decades from 1991 to 2011 in Wh/Kg and Wh/L terms, respectively. This improvement has continued since and is only likely to accelerate thanks to further work on advanced and post Li-ion batteries. This is set to accelerate thanks to investments to scale up production to meet the rising demand from the electric vehicle industry. Also consider the electric motor, the unsung hero of mobile robotics.

Figure 2 shows the reduction in mass of a 5HP (3.7kW) electric motor with time relative to its mass in 1910. Electric motors now output the same power at a much smaller size and weight while also being more efficient and less expensive. These trends explain why commercializing electrically-powered mobile robots and drones is possible.

Dr. Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, research director, IDTechEx. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.



Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers.
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
How to Maximize Factory Automation Efficiency with Low Cost Machine Vision
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Wireless Reliability in Harsh Environments
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
October 2018
HMI hardware evolution, Data acquisition strategies, Matching motors and drives, Machine vision advice
September 2018
Optimize controls via cloud software, ladder logic simulation, industrial wireless best practices
August 2018
Augmented reality and virtual reality education, autotuning PID control, cybersecurity advice, educating engineers
Edge Computing
This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
SIDB

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, progressive cavity pumps
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers.
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
How to Maximize Factory Automation Efficiency with Low Cost Machine Vision
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Wireless Reliability in Harsh Environments
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
October 2018
HMI hardware evolution, Data acquisition strategies, Matching motors and drives, Machine vision advice
September 2018
Optimize controls via cloud software, ladder logic simulation, industrial wireless best practices
August 2018
Augmented reality and virtual reality education, autotuning PID control, cybersecurity advice, educating engineers
Edge Computing
This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
SIDB

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, progressive cavity pumps
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers.
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
How to Maximize Factory Automation Efficiency with Low Cost Machine Vision
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Wireless Reliability in Harsh Environments
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
October 2018
HMI hardware evolution, Data acquisition strategies, Matching motors and drives, Machine vision advice
September 2018
Optimize controls via cloud software, ladder logic simulation, industrial wireless best practices
August 2018
Augmented reality and virtual reality education, autotuning PID control, cybersecurity advice, educating engineers
Edge Computing
This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
SIDB

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, progressive cavity pumps
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me