Robotics is the new innovation, especially in this technologically driven world we live in. Manufacturing, logistics, military, research, and operations all use it to make our jobs easier.
Back in 2012, SoftBank Robotics embarked on a journey to revolutionise the way robots — as co-bots — work alongside humans to transform and accelerate several industries, including in cleaning and food and beverage.
Robotics can be used to solve a variety of problems. Along with offering consistency, robots can increase efficiency, productivity, and work in hazardous environments, such as the deployment of robots in military situations and where dangerous chemicals are involved.
Our unparalleled devotion to the transformation of robotics is based on three core human fundamentals: the face (emotions), feet (mobility) and hands (picking). Following the launch of Pepper in 2014, a semi-humanoid robot that can read emotions, we went deep into the traditional cleaning industry, partnering with Brain Corporation through a SoftBank Vision Fund investment.
Founded in 2008, Brain Corporation develops and builds AI and self-driving robots. We jointly launched Whiz, a mobile autonomous AI vacuum cleaning floor robot in 2018.
Using robots for business
Our latest survey with Grand View Research, a US research firm, in May 2022 revealed that SoftBank Robotics has achieved the global No. 1 spot with 25 per cent of the competitive global market share in the sale of Professional Indoor Facility Mobility Robots for business. More than 35,000 SoftBank Robotics robots, including NAO, Pepper, and Whiz, are currently used in over 70 countries. As of April 2022, Whiz has also shipped about 20,000 units worldwide.
Last September, we took huge steps when we formed strategic business partnerships with two of China’s leading innovators in indoor facility mobility robots: Gaussian Robotics for floor-cleaning robots and Keenon Robotics for tray-serving delivery robots. Due to the Covid situation, the adoption of robots is soaring as more people are accepting of robots replacing certain tasks.
SoftBank Robotics’ vision has always been Information Revolution – Happiness for Everyone. As part of our commitment to strengthen and bolster our presence in the disinfection robots category, we recently increased our investment equity stake with our Hong Kong biomedical partner, Avalon SteriTech.
Singapore remains one of the highest robot-adopting countries, with three robots per 50 employees, and an average of 27 per cent increase in robotics adoption each year since 2015.
Strong support from Singapore authorities
Due to favourable business conditions in which business operators are receptive to the adoption of robots, coupled with the strong support from Singapore’s authorities in providing technology and robotics solutions subsidies and grants, I believe Singapore will become Asean’s leading country in showcasing the multiple uses of AI, technology and robotics adoption across various industry sectors.
The ever-changing behaviour of consumer shopping habits impacted e-commerce as well, especially during the pandemic. As it has grown in popularity, it has also become a trusted and reliable way to shop online. Through AutoStore, our automated storage and retrieval system in partnership with Beckshire Grey, a robotics piece picking and sorting solution, we hope to increase operational efficiencies, improve ergonomics, reduce picking errors, and future-proof logistics and retail businesses.
Creating new opportunities through robotics
As a result of such progression, robotics can also create new employment opportunities, including in science, technology, mathematics, renewable energy, and engineering.
Our goal is to utilise robots to benefit humans by automating work processes as well as providing big data to further enhance an intelligent workforce.
In light of our growth and development of robotics in these various industries, we believe the future of robotics will be very exciting.
About the writer: Kenichi “Kent” Yoshida is chief business officer at SoftBank Robotics Group Corporation.