IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Partner content
Story image

Robots in the wild – how COVID-19 has brought robots from the factory to the forefront

By Contributor
Wed 19 Aug 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Accenture technology practice lead for Australia and New Zealand, Scott Hahn.

It’s been exactly 100 years since the coining of the word ‘robot’. But it’s only been recently that advances in sensors, speech recognition and computer vision, combined with shrinking hardware costs, have made robots more widely accessible. 

5G is adding further excitement, promising to enable companies across industries to extend their robotics capabilities beyond warehouses and production facilities and into the open world. In fact, 78% of Australian executives surveyed for the Accenture Technology Vision 2020 report say they believe that robotics will enable the next generation of services in the physical world.

COVID-19 has been a significant catalyst in making the promise of robotics a reality, primarily through its imposition of social-distancing. It has moved robotics further away from the ‘nice-to-have’ category and put it on the path towards becoming a necessity.

This is true both in the controlled settings of factories and warehouses, where robotics already has a foothold, and out ‘in the wild’ in non-enclosed and public spaces.  

Robots on the front-line

One of the areas in which robotics has made the most progress in recent months has been in the front-line response to the virus, where the technology has been playing a vital role in assisting health workers and scientists. Appreciating the need to move fast, many organisations have created robots that address a range of challenges stemming from the pandemic.

XAG, a Chinese agriculture company, is one such organisation. It quickly repurposed its XPlanet drones and R80 robots to spray disinfectant in areas affected by the virus.  

Meanwhile, in Thailand, students at Chulalongkorn University repurposed robots that were initially designed to monitor stroke patients so they could also measure patients’ fevers and help doctors communicate with them remotely. 

And then there’s YouIbot, a startup based in Shenzhen, which built an antivirus robot in just two weeks. The robot can sanitise surfaces and scan people for fevers.  

These kinds of applications highlight the usefulness and adaptability of robots. The public is seeing how they can be used for societal good, while governments, regulators and workers are beginning to appreciate better the breadth and value of potential use cases for robotics. 

For businesses, the pandemic has underscored the importance of automation for business resilience. As Australian companies grapple with the possibility of on-and-off lockdowns, automation can help to minimise the impact and to support more permanent adaptations as required. 

With social distancing guidelines looking to remain in place for the long haul, managers will need to account for a reduced workforce and help ensure people can stay at a safe distance from each other while at work. Robots can help in this task by taking on jobs that would otherwise have been carried out by human workers. 

Building a robot ecosystem

The pandemic has strengthened the case for robotics and automation, something that will have long-term implications for the entire robotics ecosystem. Just as 4G networks grew in tandem with the smartphone explosion, so too will robotics, IoT devices, and 5G, driving mutual growth and development. 

After all, as robot use cases evolve and become more complex, they will demand increased data transfer rates and decreased latency. 

Businesses need to think carefully about who best to partner with to achieve their goals. Many robotics companies today have done a great job of stepping up quickly to address pandemic-related challenges. 

Others are thinking even further ahead about what’s needed for a genuinely automated world. They are using this time to form partnerships, enable new capabilities, and work with governments to demonstrate new opportunities.

As they do so, they must be careful not to burn through the societal capital accrued during the pandemic. Robotics will only have a long-term future if acceptance of the technology can be maintained.  

With more robots out ‘in the wild’, there will be a growing number of automated interactions between man and machine. For robotics to deliver its benefits in full without alienating consumers and workers, businesses must get these experiences right. 

Organisations, therefore, need to consider what their company will look like when influenced by robotics, and what their core products and services will look like in a world where robots are proliferating, often right alongside human workers.

Delivering on the promise of robotics

Very soon, nearly every company will need to think of themselves – at least in part – as a robotics company. 

Doing so will require new talent within the organisation and new partners to help acquire the skills, tools and machines needed to realise their ambitions.

Successfully managing robots out in the field requires robotics technicians, data scientists and fleet management expertise at a level that can only be met through a strategic combination of hiring, as well as sustained upskilling efforts.

The great robotic migration is underway, and the companies that prepare for and embrace it will be best positioned to benefit. 

The key will be ensuring that robots are integrated into society, accounting for all stakeholders.

Such stakeholders can include employees who will need to understand optimal human-machine collaboration, customers who need to be comfortable with robotic-powered services, and the people who will almost inevitably come across these robots out in the wild. 

If organisations get this right, the potential global impact of robotics will be vast and exponential. 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
GapMaps Live to improve brand decisions on physical locations
GapMaps has released its latest service GapMaps Live, giving more insights and features to help brands make better decisions about physical locations.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Fastly acquires Glitch, enables faster developer innovation
"This acquisition brings together two of the worlds best ecosystems for application development into a single, seamless developer experience."
Story image
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
Alteryx releases updates, empowers data insights for enterprise
Alteryx has released new advancements designed to aid enterprises with cloud analytics, democratise insights and ensure data governance.
Story image
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Getty Images delves into the world of NFTs with Candy Digital
Getty Images and Candy Digital, the next-generation digital collectible company, have announced a new multi-year partnership agreement.
Story image
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Pluralsight and Ingram Micro Cloud team up on cloud initiative
Pluralsight has teamed with Ingram Micro Cloud to build upon cloud competence and maturity internally, and externally support partners’ capabilities.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
SPS network now available to CrescoData eCommerce customers
CrescoData, a Pitney Bowes Company and PaaS business in the commerce space, says its customers can now connect to the SPS Commerce Retail Network.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The Huawei APAC conference kicks off with digital transformation
More than 1500 people from across APAC have gathered for the Huawei APAC Digital Innovation Congress to explore the future of digital innovation.
Story image
Nutanix study reveals financial services sector lagging with multicloud adoption
Nutanix has released new research that reveals the financial services sector is lagging behind when it comes to multicloud adoption.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Telstra enters into new RSP agreement with Opticomm
Telstra has entered into an RSP agreement with Opticomm (A Uniti Group Limited subsidiary) to provide network fibre services to customers.
Story image
Boost Mobile
Boost Mobile now makes up over 7% of Aussie prepaid market
Boost Mobile has doubled its market share over the past four years and now has more than 7% of Australia's prepaid market, equivalent to over 700,000 people.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Australian space tech startup secures SpaceX support
Space Machines Company has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner in carrying SMC's Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle to space next year.
Story image
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Equinix announces milestones on sustainability commitments
Equinix has released its 2021 Sustainability Report which outlines progress, innovation and accomplishments on key ESG commitments.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Vectra AI
Vectra’s inaugural Partner of the Year Awards revealed
APAC companies Baidam, Firmus, ShellSoft and Macnica have been recognised in Vectra AI's inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
Story image
Women in Technology
Huawei webinar emphasises the importance of women in tech
Industry findings by Coursera discussed as part of a webinar jointly organised by Huawei and Reuters Events found 6% more women enrolled in tech courses this year than in 2021.
Story image
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Story image
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Remote Working
Australia’s remote workers face connectivity and security issues
SOTI's new report finds better video conferencing technology and improved security measures are top concerns for remote workers in Australia.
Story image
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Multi Cloud
Red Hat updates dev tools, empowers use of hybrid and multicloud
Red Hat has unveiled updates across its portfolio of developer tools, designed to help organisations build and deliver applications faster.
Story image
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Manhattan Associates
Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies
Speed of delivery without accuracy is a dealbreaker for consumers. How can retailers operating in an omnichannel environment overcome the challenge of click-to-customer cycle times.
Story image
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.