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Although it’s still early days, robotic technology is making significant inroads in transportation, and robotics are expected to cause significant disruptions in transportation sectors over the coming decade.
From revolutionizing personal transportation to logistics, below are a few of the ways that robotics are being used and are expected to be used in the very near future.
In October 2017, a 15-seat electric driverless metro bus hit the road in Germany’s Bavaria region. Major cities, including Dubai, Las Vegas, Paris, and Tokyo are currently testing similar public transportation vehicles.
After just one year of service on a 700-meter route, the autonomous Bavarian shuttle known as EZ10 traveled greater than 10,000 kilometers and transported approximately 20,000 passengers. In August 2018, the length of the route was extended to 1,400 meters, connecting a rail station to the town center.
Because of their clean energy design and capacity to run around the clock, fleets of automated metro buses will boost overall efficiency, significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, ease congestion, reduce noise pollution, and lower costs.
Both top automotive and top tech companies, such as General Motors, Telsa, Google, and Ford, are all vying to get the first completely automated car on the road.
While there have been many milestones and successes achieved, there have been setbacks and even fatalities, which suggests that the adoption of this technology is still a few years off.
When autonomous vehicles are ultimately dependable and safe enough to be in use, they will unquestionably have a considerable influence on daily life. Roads will be safer. Trips will be faster. Resources like space and time will be used more wisely.
Driverless trains for public transport move billions of commuters each year. London, Barcelona, Sydney, Copenhagen, Paris and other cities have totally automated train lines. These trains are increasing safety and leading to noteworthy cost savings, due to rises in efficiency and decreased labor costs. Robotic trains allow for more dependable service and round-the-clock operation, as there is no need for driver breaks or shift changeovers.
Despite the widespread adoption of this technology, there are still a few bugs being worked out and automated cross-country trains have yet to become a reality.
Shipping and Logistics
Robotics are poised for rapid growth in logistics and transportation. In 2016, the robotic market for logistics had a worldwide market revenue of $1.9 billion. A recent study projected worldwide market revenue for the sector to hit more than $22 billion in 2021.
In logistics, robotics technologies face significant challenges, as the industry encompasses many diverse and intricate tasks. This presents difficulties for automation because the technology is easiest and cheapest to utilize where tasks are simple and repetitive. And yet, robotics technology is effectively taking on various challenges in logistics in distinct ways.
For superior container loading and unloading, a robotic system can use 3D laser vision and machine learning software to ‘see’ various products in a container, figure out the best loading/unloading sequence and execute the process with a large degree of precision.
In the past, automated piece picking in a warehouse facility has been challenging because of a robots ability to determine which items needed to be picked. Industrial robot arms and computer vision systems are now able to identify products, enabling automated picking in a workstation. Picking robots have led to increased efficiency and consistency in many warehouses.
Custom packaging is very hard for a robot due to the countless shapes and sizes of items. Custom packing must also be conducted in close proximity to humans, which presents safety concerns. Collaborative robots can be trained to handle custom packing by having a human operator guide its arms to 'teach it' the motion for the object. This capacity to teach a robot lowers inefficiency associated with programming and accelerates the packaging process.
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