What Does the Future of IoT Robotics Look Like?

The combination of IoT and robotics technologies is likely to shape the future of both the robotics and IoT markets.

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Robot traveling on road
Illustration: © IoT For All

People often hear about the Internet of Things (IoT) regarding connected devices like security cameras and wearable fitness trackers, but what about combining IoT with robotics?

This combination is likely to shape the future of robotics and is already disrupting the norm in many cases. People often talk about the two technologies together as part of the Internet of Robotics Things (IoRT). What’s on the horizon?

Increased Control and Customization

Evidence suggests that the IoT will play a defining role in allowing robot operators to exert more control over their equipment, such as by manipulating the machines from a distance using an app. Amateur tech enthusiasts can even follow a step-by-step process while moving a robotic arm with an IoT app.

Also, a couple of companies in the United Kingdom are trying to combine the IoT with robotics to make strides in precision agriculture. Some of the robots in development have sensors that can conduct soil tests more efficiently than humans can.

The goal is to reduce or even eliminate the people needed to help crops grow while allowing farms to benefit from robotic customization that enables the machines to adapt to changing conditions.

Many other environments can change with little warning. For example, if a robot receives data from IoT sensors placed around an industrial factory, it could adjust its movements as needed.

A company called 6 River Systems worked with Google’s cloud services when developing its warehouse robot named Chuck. Chuck assists with inventory management at more than 25 6 River Systems locations. It also receives information from a global network of IoT sensors that help the machine better understand its environment and avoid obstacles. In that case, the IoT information itself aids in enhanced control for the robot.

Veo Robotics is another company aiming to improve robotic control with IoT sensors. Its technology gathers and processes data from sensors to detect people nearby. The business’ CEO says only 13% of the world’s 2.5 million industrial robots are collaborative.

Veo Robotics hopes IoT sensors could improve industrial robotic control enough that collaborative robots get defined in new ways and allow people to work around giant machines safely.

Expanding the Possibilities for Robotics Engineers

Individuals working as robotics engineers or aspiring to do so will find the most success if they can anticipate needs and effectively work in teams to develop those associated technologies. It’s therefore worthwhile for them to start thinking about ways to blend IoT with robotics in entirely new applications or by broadening current use cases.

A skills shortage exists in the robotics market, and specialized websites connect qualified engineers with suitable companies and openings. If people have a well-developed knowledge of both IoT and robotics, they could find it’s easier than expected to stand out from their peers.

It’s not possible to know precisely what will change regarding the two technologies, but it seems inevitable that companies will look for and experiment with more ways to combine them.

Current or future robotics engineers should nimbly navigate the job market if they have backgrounds in IoT technology to complement their robotics knowledge.

Enhanced Consumer Convenience

Consumer robots are not yet part of the mainstream, but IoT could spur higher adoption rates. Statistics say the IoRT market worth will reach $21.44 billion by 2022. It’s not difficult to imagine how consumer robots could drive the market value even more. For example, engineers might design robots that work with the existing IoT devices within people’s homes.

If someone has a front door camera that connects to an IoT app, perhaps they could use a robot to open the door once that machine detects a visitor or delivery worker after getting data from the camera.

Such a scenario would be especially advantageous considering the aging global population and the ongoing efforts to help people live comfortably and independently for as long as possible.

Another way IoT combines with robotics to help people is through telepresence robots. People control these machines from a distance with apps or computer keyboards. The robot’s video and audio capabilities also effectively allow a person to attend a meeting or go to school without being on site.

Double Robotics offers a telepresence robot that people control through their Chrome browser, iPad or iPhone. Administrators can use a single dashboard to remotely control hundreds or thousands of those robots.

In one example of a telepresence robot making life easier for people, an individual found herself unable to attend her sister’s wedding and serve as the maid of honor because of her pregnancy due date. She rented a Double robot, sent the machine to go in her place and enjoyed many of the festivities despite not being there in person.

Robotics and IoT: A Beneficial Pairing

This overview shows some of the probable benefits of developing applications and products that depend on both IoT and robotics to work.

Companies already know that IoT works exceptionally well for data collection purposes. As the examples here show, that data could improve robots’ function, helping businesses and individuals alike.