What is autonomous technology?
Automation is using technology to monitor, control and operate any task or process with precision and efficiency without the need for human intervention. Autonomous technology, on the other hand, is using automated systems and implementing the use of artificial intelligence(AI), analytical capabilities and sensors to enable them to analyze situations in real-time and make decisions independently based on the data they collect.
Many factors have contributed to the rise of autonomous technology. Mainly, the role of the technology has evolved from being used merely as an add-on tool to get things done faster, better and with more efficiency. Instead, due to the advancements of allied technologies in communication, machine learning(ML), AI and the use of advanced sensors and cloud has transformed the applications of autonomous technology across various industry sectors.
Applications of Autonomous Technology
But what kind of impact will this technology have on industries and by extension our daily lives? Currently, the use of autonomous technology has been especially effective in sectors of automotive, manufacturing, mining and utilities to achieve increased efficiency, safety, and sustainability.
In the Mining Industry:
Earlier, mining used to be an extremely risky occupation as it involved a lot of manual labor in an unsafe environment but due to the implementation of technology, the risk has been reduced significantly. Today, we are seeing the increasing reliance of connecting mining assets to a centralized location for automation, control and remote operation to create fully integrated and autonomous mining operations.
The use of autonomous technology in the mining industry has caused a significant increase in productivity by improving overall equipment effectiveness(OEE) and as a result, improved overall safety and reduced cost. This has also resulted in an increase in environmental sustainability in the mining industry. In the future, it is expected that the autonomous and cognitive systems used in the mining industry will be further implemented with virtual reality(VR) and augmented reality(AR) applications to enable them to perform tasks with complete independence.
In the Automotive Industry:
The automotive industry is expected to be of the biggest beneficiaries of autonomous technologies. Currently, the applications of autonomous technology in the automotive industry are quite diverse. From automating basic testing functions in an effort to reduce defects and streamline processes to the implementation of detection and decision making systems that imitate natural human responses coupled with intelligent telematics to help reduce human error and delayed reaction times.
Currently one of the most popular uses of this technology is in the development of self-driving vehicles or autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles make use of AI and the data gathered by sensors in and around the vehicle and process it in real-time to bring greater situational awareness and decision making and enable the vehicle to operate on its own without the need for human intervention.
In the Manufacturing Industry:
In the manufacturing industry, the implementation of automotive technologies has the potential to address the challenge of short product lead times and competitive costing through digitization. The use of visual analytics coupled with AI and IoT can help to automate the supply chain and in turn, make it more effective.
Autonomous technology in industrial collaborative robots can be used to reduce or completely eliminate safety challenges that occur due to human error. Autonomous technology in manufacturing also the potential to allow for greater product personalization at scale. This is done by making small-batch manufacturing more economical by using AI for dynamically reconfigurable and self-correcting systems.
Autonomous technology also has several use cases in the utility sector like power, oil and gas. Robots and drones using autonomous technology will collect huge amounts of visual data as well as data from sensors to better understand, improve and automate processes, predict future changes and adapt accordingly to complex environments.
In today’s ever-changing technological landscape, the companies that have an edge over their competitors are the ones that have made the right investments in technology. Given the rate at which they are currently being implemented, autonomous technology has the potential to bring about tremendous transformations and benefits across different industries.
It is critical for organizations that are serious about staying at the top to implement and adapt autonomous technologies along with supporting technologies like IoT, ML, AI, AR, VR etc in their business processes. The technologies are here to stay, but the level of future success depends on how companies choose to engage with them.