Like many other countries, Australia is adopting robotic technology across a range of industries and even the home. Supported by new technologies and the right approach, automation could deliver $2.2 trillion to the Australian economy over the next 15 years.
Naturally, this significant economic shift assumes homes and businesses to embrace the technology, and Australia developing the right skills and expertise. To show how robotic technology in Australia is developing, we will look at the main types of robots, describe how they are used, and explore some potential benefits.
What are Robots?
In the simplest terms, robots are automatically operated machines that replace human effort. They usually require a program, whether simple instructions for repeated movements, or programmable logic that helps a robot sense and react to its environment. They range in size, from tiny nanobots to huge mining machines, and come in a number of types.
Most of us know humanoid robots from movies and recent developments like Asimo, an endearing walking and talking robot. These robots are finding a place in human-facing roles like retail, hospitality, and as companions in care homes.
Another familiar type is the pre-programmed robots that perform repetitive tasks with precision. For example, robots can make highly accurate welds on automobiles passing down production lines far faster than humans can.
Autonomous robots carry out tasks with little need for human intervention. They are often equipped with sensors that allow them to react to their environment. Simple examples include robot lawnmowers, while complex robots include the many self-driving cars presently undergoing testing.
Remote Operated Robots
Tele-operated robots, such as drones, operate remotely and carry out instructions provided by a human operator. They often work in dangerous environments where humans cannot, such as underground or data collecting after the Australian bush fires.
Uses for Robots
As the technology improves, robotics and automation are becoming useful across many parts of industry and wider society.
Industry and Agriculture
Robots have a long history in industry, where they weld, assemble components, tend machines, and perform repetitive jobs. In agriculture, robots are used for labour intensive tasks such as weeding, harvesting, picking, spraying, and mowing.
One growth area for robotic technology is the food industry, where robots are used for food preparation, filling, cooking, sorting, and packing. If fitted with machine vision and other sensors, robots can perform quality control. In the hospitality sector, robots may wait tables and work in kitchens.
In the logistics industry, due to the repetitive nature of many tasks, robotic systems are used to automate storage and move goods. They can pick and transport products in warehouses, sort items on assembly lines, and take inventories. Logistics robots also pick, pack, and palletize products, often working alongside humans.
Robots are becoming more common in transportation, with self-driving cars the next leap in robotic technology. They use sensors, powerful processing, GPS, and advanced communications to drive safely.
Due to the complex nature of many processes, the uptake of robot technology within the pharmaceutical industry has been relatively slow. However, this is changing on production lines because robots provide greater flexibility than standard automation and are perfect for clean room conditions. In laboratories, robots can perform delicate tasks such as filling and moving test tubes and vials.
These have been some promising developments for robots in healthcare, such as supporting surgery and giving physical therapy during recovery. In hospitals, they act as robotic porters, delivering supplies and, in pharmacies, robots can dispense medicines. Looking ahead, robots may become invaluable in care settings due to the lack of staff.
Other roles see robots used in disaster response, the military, and in the service industries as receptionists and information providers. In the home, robots perform tasks such as vacuum cleaning, gardening, and many other chores.
Robots in Australia
While Australia has adopted robotic technology, there is room for improvement, especially when compared to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The country has fewer robots per 10,000 employees than the global average, and lags far behind more advanced countries like South Korea and Japan.
On the positive side, Australia has a thriving small electronics industry and the automotive sector, which drives much of the country’s uptake of robots. Conversely, Australia has many small and medium businesses, which are less likely to have the means to invest in robots. Overall, Australia needs to scale up investment in robotics and automation if it is to remain competitive.
Growing the Sector
There are plans to bring robots to smaller businesses through collaborative approaches. One important area where Australia is adopting the technology is mining, using remotely operated equipment, and the country was the first with a fully automated container terminal. Some other important sectors include administration, hospitality, healthcare, and farming.
For example, the Royal Adelaide Hospital is testing robotic trolleys for transporting food and medicine. On a dairy farm in Melbourne, a robotic system feeds and milks cows automatically, and uses sensors to test milk.
One issue is the lack of companies who are fully aware of the benefits robotic systems can bring. Robycs Technology is one of the robot integrators trying to change this and help Australia reap the benefits of robotics.
Benefits of Robots in Australia
Robot technology brings a number of benefits to Australian industry. Robots enhance economic competitiveness and productivity and create jobs by freeing up employees to move into higher-value roles and take up training opportunities. Australia has an aging workforce, leading to potential skills shortages, so robots can fill the gap.
Robots reduce workplace fatigue and boredom, while increasing efficiency and speed, and lower the safety risks for workers. For assembly and manufacturing, robots are quicker and more accurate, while companies can customise the tools fitted to robotic arms with an experienced robot integration company.
With the aid of sensor technology and powerful processing, robots are an accurate and efficient option for packing and palletising, often working alongside human employees. They are perfect for heavy loads and use a range of tools, including grippers, suction pads, and magnets.
One area where robots will excel in Australia is machine tending, which is tedious for humans, so robots can fulfil the role and improve cycle times. Finally, we cannot underestimate the growing importance of home robots, which can complete labour intensive chores. This frees up time for leisure and can provide support for people with disabilities.
Australia is slowly developing its own robotic industry and this will only increase as robotic technology advances and becomes part of human life. With support, more and more sectors will adopt robotic systems to improve their productivity and efficiency
For robotic technology, Australia has a number of companies helping businesses integrate automated systems.
If you want to boost your output and join Australia’s robotic revolution, Robycs Technology is here to help. Find out how you can future proof your business with robot automation.