Normally, tens of thousands of people from around the world would converge on Las Vegas in January to see the latest in consumer electronics and commercial applications. While CES 2021 was virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that did not keep major vendors from making a host of announcements promising more autonomous systems in the coming year.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) plans to resume some in-person features in a hybrid event next year, but most robotics-related conferences of the past year and the next several months will continue to be online, with varying platforms for presentations, networking, and exhibits. What makes CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) different is its size and the diversity of technologies.
In addition to robots for folding laundry, preparing and delivering food, and providing companionship, the event has featured 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and drones for air and sea. As noted at the “Robotics to the Rescue” conference session at CES 2021, the pandemic has heightened awareness of the potential for autonomous transportation of people and goods.
The ultimate goal may be general artificial intelligence and general-purpose household robots, but there are many worthy applications on roads, in hospitals, and on farmland to commercialize in the meantime. For several years now, CES has been the first place to see healthcare systems, wearable technologies, and robots for factories and warehouses, as well as retail.
Although many of the products shown at Digital CES are years away, if ever, from commercialization, developers and users of industrial robots can get a preview of which technologies are maturing. See this slideshow for 10 noteworthy systems from this month’s big show.