The Future of Robotics at Panasonic: Form follows Function
Author: Stefan Hauck
Meeting R2-D2 and C-3PO was an fantastic inspiration for me. Lovely, caring and loyal, with a good sense of humor and discreetly supportive. Those who are familiar with the “ubertechnology” embracing character of the Daleks, the T-800 or the Futureworld robots might slightly disagree about my all positive attitude towards robotics. But my first experience with robots was positive and is positive up to this very day. My still favorite mechanic buddies from Star Wars were joined by other robotic sidekicks – Wall E, Sonny or Chappie – just to name a view. And the idea of service supporting with “Clear your Room” kind of tasks is still appealing to me. The activities are more complex now but there are certain tasks where robots can and actually even should support.
Truth is, the era of robotics has already started. Thus I am excited that I was granted a view behind the scenes that I may now share.
“Spoiler alert”: Panasonic shares a glimpse on its Future Robotics development roadmap. Everyone may join and watch. For more details please scroll down to the end of the blog post.
Sometimes the result is not the sum of its parts, sometimes it is
What drives every robot? The technology under the metal covers, the drives and sensors. And where is Panasonic, a leading electronics manufacturer, within the robotics landscape? Please read on to find out.
My colleagues from Panasonic Industry predict the general market trends in the components sector as the focus on miniaturization of the products to be manufactured, the combination of multiple intelligent sensors in one device, and the reduction of mass of size of the sensors and drives themselves. All of them will enable new applications for robots to be explored.
Being a part of the trends here and learning from the experience as a manufacturer of welding robots, Panasonic sees now this expertise being applied to those new areas of applications. First of all, to Retail and Logistics , closely followed by Healthcare.
Preview on the new Robotics Solutions to be presented
Whereas in the US or in the domain market Japan Panasonic is well-known for its B2B products and engineering solutions, not many Europeans know about Panasonic’s competence in other areas than consumer electronics. But in the webinar it becomes clear that we have entered the robotics market at various departments covering three layers of robotics from components via finished products (stand-alone or as augmented solutions) up to system solution level. Especially the later is very interesting as customers expect turnkey solutions from one supplier, e.g. an automation solution developed for an automotive supplier’s factory in Germany.
One of the examples highlighting the above mentioned transference of industrial applications to the healthcare industry is the usage of lidar sensors within delivery robots that had originally been developed for automated guided vehicles in production sites. My colleagues will present some new applications for the healthcare industry, a wheelchair called PiiMo.