robotica de servicio

Examples of service robotics

Service robotics is currently emerging as a way for companies to improve their competitiveness, production capacity and innovation.

This article discusses the use of service robots, robot as a service (RaaS) and some interesting facts about the service robot market provided by the IFR Service Robots Group (IFR: International Federation of Robotics).

It also includes an article by Roberto Guzmán, CEO at Robotnik, published on 5 July in Harvard Deusto.

Robotnik’s co-founder provides his vision on current service robotics, the main area of work of the company. This is the case of Artificial Intelligence as an enabler of service robotics and its introduction in the market.

What is a service robot?

A service robot is a robot that “performs useful tasks for people or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications” (IFR).

According to the 2021 World Robotics – Service Robots report, generated and published by the IFR stadistica department, the market for professional service robots grew by 12% in 2020, from a sample turnover of $6 billion to $6.7 billion. The IFR itself classifies AMRs as service robots, often used in industrial environments.

Robotnik has been involved in the development, manufacturing and marketing of service robotics, namely autonomous mobile robots and manipulators, for 20 years.

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Service robots can operate in different sectors and scenarios, depending on their technical specifications: outdoor agriculture, intralogistics in a warehouse, tunnel inspection or logistics in a hospital. Wikipedia gives an example of one of Robotnik’s first service robots working in a public hospital in Valencia.

Did you know that every third professional service robot sold in 2020 was built to transport goods or cargo?

Mobile robotics solutions are already established for transport and logistics. More than 43,500 units were sold in 2020 (+33%).

RaaS – Robot as a Service-
Service robotics is not the same as Robot as a Service – RaaS.

Robot as a service has gained some popularity in recent years. This is a business model in which an end-user pays for the use of the robot for a period of time, but does not purchase it permanently. In other words, they pay for a service – in this case, a robotic service. Despite the recent boom, RaaS represents less than 3% of the 43,500 units named above.

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One advantage of RaaS is that it can serve to lower the barrier to entry for task automation in some companies that are more reluctant. A drawback is that, in reality, for most applications, RaaS business models are not offered.

The following article is about service robotics and some of the latest technologies in the sector:

Article by Roberto Guzmán, CEO in Robotnik. Harvard Deusto.

Service robots: towards more complex architectures

Robotics and AI are two distinct areas of knowledge. A robot can function with or without the use of AI, but AI is an enabler for the introduction of service robots, those that perform useful tasks for humans or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications.

The advent of new standards (5G/6G) implies multiple benefits for service robots and the use of services available in the cloud/edge. Among these services will be AI functionalities that will be shared among a large number of robots. These will enhance the knowledge base (fed by multiple robots) and offload computation to the cloud/edge.

Functionalities such as object recognition and grasping (bin picking), human recognition or language processing will run as AI services in the cloud/edge, standardising the functions of service robots and mobile manipulators.

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Los sistemas de IA mencionados son verticales y están enfocados hacia un único problema: identificar objetos, identificar palabras y frases, decidir formas de agarrar un objeto, generar trayectorias…

The AI systems mentioned above are vertical and focused on a single problem: identifying objects, identifying words and phrases, deciding how to grasp an object, generating trajectories… These systems will evolve towards systems with more complete architectures, capable of handling more horizontal problems such as opening doors, assembling kits or cleaning rooms. Progressively, these architectures will have sufficient intelligence to achieve a certain degree of autonomy, solve new problems in different domains and develop complex tasks without prior programming.

Over time, these architectures will become smarter than people. It is possible that at a certain level, AI will be beyond our control, but limits could also be set to ensure appropriate and safe use. In the medium term, it will help service robots to relieve us of repetitive, hard or dangerous work.

Roberto Guzmán Diana
CEO of Robotnik

The service robotics market and adjacent technologies are in a constant ‘work in progress’. The development of digitalisation, cloud technologies, 5G and Artificial Intelligence, specifically in machine learning, are a boost for service robotics and specifically, in autonomous and collaborative mobile robotics.

As Roberto Guzmán says, the short and medium term for service robotics is to perform the most tedious, dangerous or repetitive tasks.


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Use and applications of Artificial Intelligence in robotics

Bringing together the concepts of robotics and Artificial Intelligence, the first image that comes to mind is that of the humanoids of so many films and books. But beyond the Hollywood, AI is a revolution for the industry.

AI is changing the way almost everything is done in almost every sector. From the film industry or finance to e-commerce and manufacturing processes.

What are its limits, what is its stage of development and what is the relationship between robotics and artificial intelligence?

Although there is still some way to go, the applications of Artificial Intelligence in robotics has already passed the pilot phase and is at a relatively solid point of maturity. In other words, this technology is expected to experience a peak in the coming years.

AI in robotics

Artificial intelligence is one thing, robotics is another, and the use of artificial intelligence in robotics is another. But, a mobile robot with artificial intelligence is another.

AI is one of the technologies that has given mobile robotics and automation the biggest boost. It is about an AMR being able to make efficient and flexible decisions in real time.

Artificial intelligence applied to robotics offers a new way for robots (software) to execute commands or tasks given to them.

AI software is not the same as a computer programme or application. With a program, the robot does not think for itself, but carries out certain commands by combining a set of instructions that have been previously defined.

Introduction to AI robotics. How does an AI robot work?

When a robot integrates AI algorithms, it does not need to receive orders to make a decision, but is able to work on its own after a 'training' or trial-and-error phase. Thanks to Machine Learning, the robot is able to learn, solve, understand, reason or react optically.

Most robots are not intelligent, but in 2022, companies are no longer just looking to automate certain processes, but are also looking for intelligent automation. In many cases, a robot capable of carrying weight is no longer enough: there is a clear trend towards mobile, autonomous robots capable of intelligently collecting, processing and managing data, and making the best decisions in terms of manufacturing or production.

Certainly, this explains the increase of use of artificial intelligence in robotics: AMRs working in new environments such as construction or medicine, and performing new tasks such as inspection, maintenance or rescue.

Example application of Artificial Intelligence in robotics

The benefits of the marriage of artificial intelligence and robots for industrial applications are already being seen in many factories.

A warehouse is a dynamic, changing space. Robotnik's mobile robots and manipulators, by integrating AI algorithms, are able to navigate autonomously and make decisions in real time, adapting to unforeseen events.

The AMR has automated learning, 'pre-trained' to acquire knowledge and patterns that allow it to predict and recalculate functions, tasks or routes.

Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and SMEs

It is a fact that large corporations are already investing in robotics and Artificial Intelligence. But what is the situation of SMEs in relation to this technology?

Medium-sized factories and industries are using artificial intelligence mainly to manage the supply chain, to optimise certain manufacturing processes, to integrate predictive maintenance or to streamline inventory.

However, there are still challenges to overcome in this regard. One of the main problems is undoubtedly that integrating AI into industry requires specialised personnel. There is still a gap between the specialised AI community and the working personnel in the industry.

Robotnik is involved in several R&D projects related to robotics and Artificial Intelligence that work to bridge this gap and bring profiles together, so that SMEs can also benefit from this technology, without the need to have specialised personnel on staff. For instance, INMERBOT, a project that combines AI and multi-robotic systems for inspection and maintenance applications in immersive environments.

Decentralised AI

AI requires a complicated architecture. Therefore, devices with adequate computing power are required.
This has brought a natural process of transition towards decentralised models for many emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.

This is AI running on a local device, blockchain networks or Kubernetes, so that the processing of data and resources is more agile, faster and more secure.

The importance of decentralised AI systems lies in the increased protection of data and bandwidth.

In conclusion, decentralised AI has great potential in terms of the autonomy of AMRs and the improvements this implies for production in an automated logistics environment.

Artificial Intelligence is far from being at its peak, but the joint work between the academic, engineering and business sectors means that the state-of-the-art of this technology is advancing rapidly.

You can contact the Robotnik team to find out what mobile robotics with Artificial Intelligence can do for your business.