We’ve collected industry expert predictions on trends that will shape RoboTech in 2024.
RoboTech is no longer a far-off futuristic concept, it’s a field that’s being developed in the here and now. And, as we cast our eye towards 2024, there’s a lot more to be excited about regarding this exciting and innovative technology…
We asked a panel of industry experts to give their predictions on what trends they think will shape RoboTech next year…
- Kamran Maqbool – CEO of Green Cloud Hosting
- Bjoern Klaas – Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe
- Simon Bacher – CEO and Co-Founder of Ling
- Paul Dodd – Chief Innovation Office at Huboo
- Dragos Stanciu – CEO at Grayscale AI
- Massimiliano Moruzzi – CEO at Xaba
- Ingo Keller – Head of Robotics at the National Robotarium
- Elad Inbar – Founder and CEO of RobotLAB
Kamran Maqbool – CEO of Green Cloud Hosting
“In 2024, the evolution of RoboTech is anticipated to be significantly influenced by advancements in cloud computing. In my opinion, I foresee a pivotal role for cloud-based technologies in enhancing the capabilities of robotic systems. The integration of cloud computing with robotics will likely result in more powerful and scalable robotic applications. Cloud-based platforms will enable robots to access vast amounts of data, perform complex computations, and leverage machine learning algorithms to enhance their decision-making processes in real time.
“The collaborative nature of cloud computing will foster the development of robotic networks, allowing robots to share information and learn collectively. This interconnectedness will pave the way for the deployment of intelligent and adaptable robotic systems across various industries, from manufacturing to healthcare. The cloud’s ability to provide on-demand resources and facilitate seamless communication will contribute to the agility and efficiency of robotic operations.
“As we look ahead to 2024, the synergy between RoboTech and cloud computing is poised to redefine the landscape, ushering in a new era of intelligent, interconnected, and highly capable robotic systems.”
Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe
‘Soft robotics and new materials will have the biggest impact on how robotics manufacturing will develop in the year to come and beyond, as our 2023 Robotics Manufacturing Status Report reveals.
‘Soft robotics, such as grippers enable robots to perform more logistical tasks, with biomedicine, food and agriculture set to benefit. Using new materials and technology requires several iterations for testing and refinement, so digital manufacturing is a key element in speeding up the development cycle.
“Another Protolabs study, ‘The Balancing Act: Unlocking Innovation in Manufacturing revealed that manufacturers believe the increasing use of robots that work collaboratively with humans (cobots) will enable innovation, boost productivity and improve workplace safety and mental health in the workplace. 56% of the adopters say the technology will contribute towards a safer working environment and 54% think their deployment will augment their employees’ mental health.
“These benefits will help address the growing skills gap in the sector, enabling employers to attract top talent and employees to spend more time on learning and development.”
Simon Bacher CEO and Co-Founder of Ling
“In 2024, RoboTech is expected to see advancements in AI-driven automation, leading to greater robot autonomy and decision-making capabilities. These developments will expand robotic applications in healthcare, logistics, and customer service.
“Additionally, the technology will become more accessible to small businesses and consumers, with a rise in collaborative robots (cobots) enhancing human-robot collaboration in industries like manufacturing. Integration with the Internet of Things (IoT) will also enhance connectivity and operational efficiency across various sectors.”
Paul Dodd, Chief Innovation Office at Huboo
“While much of the attention surrounding Generative AI and large language models has been on desk jobs and knowledge workers, these technologies have amazing potential in the field of robotics.
“AI-based image recognition is coming on in leaps and bounds, and when you put this technology into robots, you’re going to get a machine that is far more capable of adapting to its surroundings.
“Likewise, the big breakthrough with ChatGPT and LLMs is that they have enabled non-technical humans to converse with and issue interpretable commands to machines. Again, this could be transformative on the warehouse floor, allowing existing warehouse teams to direct the robots in the moment, rather than requiring engineers to pre-programme them beforehand.
“These developments are undoubtedly going to revolutionise warehousing. Until recently, every different use case has required a different robot, or, at the very least, different tooling. With AI, it’ll be much easier to build robots that serve multiple use cases, and crucially, the tech will ensure the robots can adapt in real-time to anything that doesn’t fit the brief.
“I used to think meaningful advances in automation and robotics were 15 years away. However, with the recent AI breakthroughs, I think we’re now just 2-3 years from commercial trials and around five years from commoditisation.
“When you look at proof of concept work like Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robot, it’s clear that the technology isn’t too far away, and while there will be unexpected hurdles to overcome, the sheer speed of AI advancement makes me think we’ll be seeing this type of tech on the warehouse floor in the near-to mid-term.
“However, I think it’s going to take some time for the technology to bed in and replace what we have today. For example, non-flying drones are increasingly commonplace in warehouses to carry out tasks like stock taking. They’re preprogrammed with the details of their environment and use sensors to avoid hazards, and they’re often deployed out of hours, making them hugely efficient. 3PLs may see no good reason to turf these machines out and replace them with more expensive AI humanoid robots.”
For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.
Dragos Stanciu, CEO at Grayscale AI
“Neuromorphic AI will gain massive traction. Neuromorphic computing essentially mimics the way our own brains work, at chip and algorithm levels. It is ultra-energy efficient and faster than existing computing architectures. As large LLM models such as ChatGPT are very compute intensive, we cannot run them on robots, at the edge, where we need our AI models to run in real-time, with limited compute capabilities. Therefore, there will be a shift to smaller, more compact AI models, trainable with sparse datasets, that can run at the edge, of the robot itself. This is where neuromorphic AI shines.
“Grayscale AI is one such company pushing the boundaries of this technology and is the only neuromorphic computing company in the UK to get accepted in the NATO DIANA accelerator. Given backing by NATO for this emerging technology, more companies and investors will allocate resources for developing neuromorphic, which in turn will accelerate its mainstream adoption.”
Massimiliano Moruzzi, CEO at Xaba
Adopting and deploying industrial robots for manufacturing is tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. It requires highly skilled individuals who know specialized robotics programming languages. In addition, the accuracy of robots used today is limited by the lack of machine-learning models to adequately represent the physics of a robot’s operation. What’s needed is an AI-driven control system.
“With this any industrial robot could be empowered with both deep (the part of the brain in charge of controlling the body) and cortex intelligence (the part of the brain in charge of gathering and interpreting sensor data), enabling it to fully control its body and understand its environment using sensor data such as images, sounds, temperatures, and accelerations.
“By completely automating how robots are programmed and adopted, such a system would solve the challenges of deploying industrial robots by not only increasing accuracy, consistency, and throughput but also significantly reducing the time and costs of robotics deployments.
“Fortunately, Xaba, a pioneer and leader in applying industrial AI to enable a world of intelligent and sustainable manufacturing, has developed such a “synthetic brain” – xCognition – that has shown in testing with Lockheed Martin and others how robot accuracy and consistency can be improved by a factor of 10X.”
Ingo Keller, Head of Robotics at the National Robotarium
“The advent of Generative AI is already having a significant impact on robotics. Still, we must ensure we’re not trying to run before we can walk.
“It will be interesting to see if robotics’s hardware/software integration can keep pace with development in fields such as Generative AI, but I’m talking more about regulation.
“We’ve been living with robots for 50 years (e.g., dishwashers), but the more complex the systems get, the more impact they will have on our physical world. When we talk about robotics, we are talking about complex machinery, and we must ensure it doesn’t harm people or the environment.
“Increasingly, interaction with robotic systems will be through speech. Suppose I ask a robot to go from A to B. In that case, we must remember that robots have a different understanding of the world from us, which makes adding more robots to human environments so tricky. Who is liable if something goes wrong? The person issuing instructions, the engineer who designed it, or the company which built it?
“I see robotics accelerating in education and more natural interaction where, combined with Generative AI, there’s immediate potential. The toys under next year’s Christmas tree might be a new type of robotic personal assistant.”
Elad Inbar, Founder and CEO of RobotLAB
“Throughout 2023, AI dominated global headlines, marking the start of an AI revolution and making way for RoboTech to enter the conversation. RoboTech, as it currently stands, is becoming more and more popular as a labour solution as labour shortages persist.
“In 2024, I envision that RoboTech growth will increase dramatically, particularly in the hospitality industry, as it suffers the most from labour shortages and stands to benefit the most from automation. The introduction of cleaning robots, which can vacuum and scrub floors, and humanoid robots, which can direct customers to their destination, for example, has alleviated strain off the shoulders of employees in the hospitality industry.
“Additionally, as RoboTech development accelerates in quality and quantity, I anticipate more humanoid robot ‘projects’ will become ‘products’ available commercially within a limited scope and distribution. In fact, at the latest Robot World Conference in China, more than 150+ new humanoid robot projects have been introduced, which is an unprecedented number!
“As someone who’s been in the robotics industry since 2007, the evolution of RoboTech is reaching a turning point. 2024 will be a big year, continuing the growth trend that we saw in 2023.”