After attending Automate 2019 last week, one thing became very clear - the folks at A3 Automation know how to organize and host a trade show. This year's event in Chicago boasted 20,000 attendees, 500 exhibitors set in 160,000 square feet at the McCormick center.
Our partners MoviMED and Bluewrist represented Zivid at the event. MoviMED is a new distribution partner for Zivid. With their strong technical and engineering skills, they are focused on 3D imaging applications. Bluewrist, a systems integrator with a global footprint, focuses on intelligent automation systems with deep hardware and software expertise.
The exhibit floor was where I spent most of my time during the week. My primary goal was to learn about the market and meet new potential customers. My top 3 takeaways from the show:
1. Picking is huge - I didn't count all the picking demos on the show floor, but there were many hosted by cobot manufacturers, machine vision companies, and systems integrators. Picking might just be the killer app for robotic automation. The market is becoming more differentiated and segmented as solution providers are finding their niche.
2. Cobots are everywhere - Market leading robot companies demonstrated their collaborative robot portfolios while newcomers introduced brand new cobot families. Each touted differentiated features, and the one common thread was simplicity or ease-of-use. This theme isn't new, but what stood out is that simplicity is now extended all the way to the end user.
Cobots and vision at Automate 2019.
3. Human-like 3D vision is needed for next gen picking applications - Many of the picking demos I saw used low resolution, low cost, almost disposable 3D cameras to illustrate picking concepts. In virtually every demo or conversation I had, the engineer that developed the picking demo mentioned that the next step requires improved vision. For a commercial ready solution, vision sensors/3D cameras producing higher quality of data are necessary to deliver better object detection and recognition to ensure robust picking outcomes. Most of the 400K robots in 2018 were blind or visually impaired. Similar to humans, if robots can't see what they are picking, they can't reach their peak productivity. Now, if the robot can see it can do the task it is doing today more reliably, potentially faster and with higher precision.
I'm already looking forward to Automate 2021 where I believe picking applications will be even more prevalent, cobots will be even easier to use and some may be equipped with wrist mounted or integrated human-like vision. Zivid will certainly be present and will hopefully be the eyes behind many of the robotic automation solutions showcased. If you can't wait till 2021, please reach out for a demo or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.