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Future Trends in Robotics: A Look Into 2022

November 18, 2021
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Jon Thomason
Chief Technology Officer

We’re in the homestretch of 2021 with our sights set on the new year. This means it’s time to start planning your 2022 automation strategy. And you have come to the right place for advice on future trends in robotics. Here, we outline our top predictions for 2022.

1. Rise of the Multi-purpose Robot

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) have grown significantly in their presence and impact across public facilities, a trend accelerated by COVID-19 and labor shortages. The retail industry in particular has been a key growth area for robotics. For example, robots are now helping retail managers and employees offload repetitive operational activity such as cleaning store floors and moving inventory to the sales floor to focus on more critical tasks.

There’s no doubt retailers, as well as other industries, will continue to look to robotics technology for cost-effective methods to fill growing labor shortages, reduce operational costs and increase efficiencies. But in 2022, more will be expected of these robots to meet increased shopping demands and expectations, and further transform physical spaces into easy-to-manage digital workflows. That said, we expect stakeholders and managers to add multi-purpose AMRs to their teams to perform multiple tasks at once.

Brain Corp is leading the charge by powering multi-purpose AMRs. Beyond autonomously cleaning floors or moving merchandise, BrainOS®-powered AMRs can be outfitted with computer vision to simultaneously capture environmental and inventory data. Not only does this give managers visibility into operational metrics like a store’s cleanliness and number of inventory delivery runs, but now they can gain new, valuable insights into inventory levels, planogram compliance, out-of-stocks, pricing inaccuracies and more. When one autonomous robot can take on multiple repetitive tasks, retailers can increase their return on investment (ROI), giving employees even more time to focus on servicing customers. This approach streamlines operations and delivers better in-store experiences.

Keep an eye out for multi-purpose robots as you’re sure to see more at your local retail stores in 2022!

2. AMRs as Mobile Data Acquisition Platforms

As AMRs enter commercial public spaces, businesses leverage these machines to take on strategic tasks beyond cleaning floors and moving inventory. In 2022, we’ll see AMRs further act as mobile Internet of Things (IoT) hubs. Whether by scanning inventory levels, checking the temperature refrigeration aisles or by simply viewing facilities day-to-day, AMRs can deliver near real-time insights to store managers. These insights give store managers the data they need to streamline operations and increase productivity — ultimately resulting in massive time and cost savings, while also increasing revenue. Hence, robots help their teammates know more and do more.

BrainOS®-powered robots are already evolving into mobile data acquisition platforms and our customers will continue to reap the benefits of early adoption throughout 2022. Customers are set up for success with their ability to tap into our automation ecosystem of partners so that each experience — from data collection to data reporting— is seamless. Leveraging a single autonomous robot to clean floors and collect data allows our customers to easily streamline their workflows. Little retraining is necessary, and the same tools and metrics can be used to measure fleet effectiveness. This optimizes ROI and limits privacy and compliance concerns.

As we enter 2022, data continues to be store owners’ biggest asset to streamline processes and reduce operational costs. And hiring AMRs onto their teams to augment employees’ work is one of the easiest ways to start making data-informed decisions.

3. Robotics Investments Reap Major ROI Benefits

Robots are becoming more accessible to businesses than ever before. Unlike human labor costs that continue to increase, the cost of robotics is on the decline. This is due to the decreasing costs of robotic hardware and sensors. Not only is the cost of robotics decreasing, but artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology is improving, making AMRs even more functional and effective. Affordability paired with the rise of multi-purpose robots leads us to predict that in 2022, businesses facing staff shortages and absenteeism will leverage ARMs to get more work done with less resources. Businesses that invest in robotics technology to improve their productivity and efficiencies will save on operational costs, ensure quality work is consistently completed and better service customers.

Beyond cost savings, BrainOS®-powered robots will continue to deliver ROI in several ways for customers throughout 2022 and beyond. A self-driving, intelligent robot can act as your employees’ productivity partner, taking on tedious, sometimes hazardous, tasks like floor care and moving heavy merchandise so your employees can focus on other critical tasks that robots can’t do. In turn, retailers realize improved labor reliability and consistency and reduced exposure to workers’ compensation claims.

4. Cleaning Remains Top Priority

While we wish we could say a post-pandemic world is within reach, uncertainty for what lies ahead in 2022 remains. One thing we can count on: businesses are expected to maintain “a high standard of clean.” This proves challenging in the face of long-standing labor issues, rising costs and ongoing e-commerce pressure, specifically for the retail industry. Innovative retailers are already leveraging autonomous floor care to manage the dull, dirty and repetitive task of scrubbing hard floors or vacuuming soft floors. Self-driving floor cleaners have emerged as the most popular robotic application to date, and we predict this will remain true in 2022.

Businesses investing in BrainOS®-powered autonomous floor cleaners aren’t compromising on cleanliness. They are answering the call to improve sanitization and deliver a better, safer customer experience. An additional benefit of hiring robotic teammates is their ability to share near real-time performance data with managers and stakeholders to prove their tasks are completed. Examples of metrics these AMRs track include operational hours, heat maps showing areas cleaned and any variations in workflow. By accessing this data, store managers can rest easy knowing their robotic teammates are consistently providing a quality clean to their public spaces. And this is precisely why robotic floor scrubbers will make a big appearance in retail stores in 2022.

Our 2021 survey found that today’s retailers face two key challenges: 44% need to improve on-shelf inventory availability and 55% need to provide safer, cleaner spaces for shoppers. And in 2022, they will continue looking at robotic automation as productive and cost-effective solutions. Those who adopt AMRs onto their teams will realize the benefits of their multifunctionality, real-time data collection and ability to show task completion. Now that you know our 2022 automation trends predictions, you can hire robotic teammates with confidence that they’ll drive real value and cost-savings for your business.

Looking for more information on how robot automation solutions can help you in 2022? Contact us.

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