Robot usage is soaring during pandemic

Conditions are ideal for a massive adoption boost to robotic and software automation technologies.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

As Q2 data begins to emerge, we're seeing a notable uptick in robotics usage. The trend seems widespread but is nowhere as apparent as with cleaning robots, which have become vital tools in a number of sectors during the pandemic.

The pandemic has created ideal conditions for automation adoption. The robotics sector in general has been maturing with a number of sectors like logistics, retail, delivery, and inspection already partially automated. Longterm plans to move toward fuller automation stacks have been easy to fast track thanks to a new focus on sanitation and wariness among consumers of unnecessary contact and handling in the supply chain. Temporary operations slowdowns and shutdowns have also provided a window for companies to retool their operations. 

"As companies reconfigure their workplaces and factories," The Financial Times recently reported, "those with the necessary financial resources are likely to go ahead with long-planned investment into new machinery and more automated ways of working."

A company called Brain Corp, which creates core technology for autonomous robots, such as floor scrubbers, has released internal data tracking the rise in fleet utilization. According to the company, median robotic usage among retailers in US locations rose by 13.8% during Q1 of 2020, compared to the same period last year, and jumped by 24% during Q2 of 2020.

"We have seen a sharp increase in usage and adoption over the last quarter, as grocers and retailers try to adjust to a constant state of clean due to the health crisis," explains Dr. Eugene Izhikevich, CEO at Brain Corp. "We are grateful to be working with our manufacturing partners to provide value to retailers during these challenging times. We are also proud to have broken through the 2 million autonomous hours mark, which reflects the unmatched performance and safety of our technology."

The pandemic may also be increasing the move toward AI-related technologies like robotic process automation and software automation.

"When things go back to normal, companies will see the overall benefit of implementing robotics very quickly, and they will take more of a serious measure to expand their RPA implementation," Rinat Malik, former RPA implementation specialist at BMW Financial Services, told the PEX Network in a recent Q&A. "Within a month or two of lockdown ending, there will be a big boost of RPA."

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