Robotics is booming. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) is registering an all-time high for the industry. According to the World Robotics Report 2022, around half a million robots were installed worldwide in a single year. That corresponds to a growth rate of 31 percent year-on-year and surpasses the record number of robot installations in 2018 by 22 percent. A major reason for the trend is that the systems are constantly becoming easier to use. The obstacles involved in setting up robots for operation and training them have grown less daunting. Startups from Germany are playing a significant role in this process.
A number of companies here in Germany are working to ensure that robots are no longer reserved for experts – and they’re following a variety of approaches. Some manufacturers are producing their own robots, such as NEURA Robotics. The startup from Metzingen is developing robots that use artificial intelligence (AI) and several built-in sensors in order to work with people without endangering them. Protective fences or cages are no longer necessary. This new development can be observed across robotics right now.
Another advantage: the robots from NEURA no longer require extensive training. “We can put a component in front of our robot and say ‘This corner needs to be welded’,” explains CEO David Reger. “It takes a quick look and then knows what to do – for example, at what angle and at what speed it needs to weld.”
The young robotics companies are creating products that occupy a niche often neglected by the established manufacturers, says Helmut Schmid, chairman of the German Robotics Association. Large industrial companies have their own robotics experts to implement appropriate applications. However, smaller companies often lack such specialist personnel. Simple solutions are therefore just the ticket. “We have a great startup scene in Germany that brings usability to small and medium-sized businesses with its technologies,” says Schmid. And German industry is largely composed of these SMEs. With robotics reaching the masses, Schmid and others are heralding a democratization of the technology.