Robotics to boost productivity and workplace safety by 2020


The six-fold growth in mobile robotics by 2020 will dramatically enhance Middle East and global business productivity, workplace safety and daily lives, according to an exclusive new report by Frost & Sullivan prepared in collaboration with Gitex Technology Week that runs from October 16-20.

Shipments of mobile robotics will grow from 4 million in 2012 to 25.4 million in 2020. The fastest-growing sector in this expansion is predicted to be logistics, with unit shipments of logistics-related robotics increasing from 1,400 in 2012 to 95,000 in 2020. The largest absolute growth will be in personal and household robotics.

“As robots get inexorably smarter with advances in artificial intelligence and know more about the world around them through access to the internet of things and big data, they will make more informed decisions and be able to adapt to the environments they inhabit,” says Paul Clarke, CTO at the United Kingdom-based Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer. “This in turn will lead to richer human-machine collaboration – driving massive gains in productivity, safer workplaces and better lives.”

Ocado ships more than 200,000 weekly orders in the UK thanks to its automated warehouses, the latest of which will have thousands of robots fetching their customers’ groceries. Ocado is currently partnering with several European Union universities to develop the SecondHand humanoid robot, which aims for factory deployment by 2020.

Artificial intelligence

“Humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence are set to be a major leap forward in complementing people and enhancing efficiency in the workplace, especially in high-risk and fast-paced environments,” he adds. “As the Middle East’s push for innovation continues, the region is primed to be a centre of having robots transform the workplace. Lessons learnt in retail could be extended to other verticals such as healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, and construction.”

With more workplace automation, companies will be able to replace up to ten workers with one robot, driving down costs by as much as 60 per cent, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The European Federation of Robotics, a non-profit organization that aims to promote, strengthen and protect the robotics industry worldwide, predicts the Middle East will see strong take-up of robotics across businesses, especially in industrial and manufacturing.

“Robots increasingly have the artificial intelligence to carry out tasks based on their own decisions, enhancing efficiency and safety,” says Simon Andersen, CIO at the European Federation of Robotics. “We are on the brink of a major breakthrough in human-machine technology advancement, and the GCC and UAE have the ambition and early adoption mind-set to be global leaders in using robotics to transform daily lives.”