MEMPHIS—Last week, the home of the Blues was also host to one of the first major robotics conferences in the U.S. since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year and a half ago. About 650 people attended the Autonomous Mobile Robots and Logistics Conference put on by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) and 60 exhibitors and sponsors led by FedEx Corp.
A3's AMR & Logistics event included programming intended to help companies get started with automation, as e-commerce demand has climbed, supply chains grapple with disruptions, and both robotics vendors and end users struggle to find skilled labor.
The global market for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) could experience a compound annual growth rate of 35% to reach $13.2 billion (U.S.) by 2026, predicted Research and Markets. It credited improvements in machine vision, manipulation capabilites, and robot mechanics. While most warehouses don't yet have much automation, most speakers were bullish on market prospects.
Conference gives glimpses of the future of logistics
The conference and show floor grew since A3's last AMR conference in Louisville, Ky., in 2019.
“The event exceeded our expectations,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation. “In Louisville, we had 430 people for one day, and this year's event had double the exhibitors.”
“Other events have recorded 70% of pre-pandemic attendance, so for us to do 50% better is quite a testament to the interest in AMRs and logistics,” he told Robotics 24/7. “We've had great feedback. One company said it was the best thing they've ever done, and another said it was the perfect size—all the key people were there. That's the value of in-person events versus virtual ones, and we had lots of networking opportunities off-site.”
In addition, the sessions examined the state of the industry; how technology can help solve business problems; and what audience members should know about adopting, financing, and managing AMRs.
The conference also featured discussions about interoperability among varied robots from multiple manufacturers, the new R15.08 industrial mobile robot safety standard, and scaling robotics deployments, among other topics.
The addition of logistics also benefited the event, said Burnstein. “We added technologies besides AMRs,” he explained. “Some attendees wanted to know how these robots can work in automotive manufacturing. Logistics touches everyone, not just e-commerce and warehouses.”
See the slideshow (right) for 10 insights from the AMR & Logistics conference.