The Autonomous Things trend research Study shows the evolution from Automation to Autonomous Things

22 January 2020

Reply’s new study, conducted with the trend platform SONAR, illuminates the development of central trends in the area of autonomous machines such as drones, robots and vehicles. While autonomous household appliances are already widespread, autonomous cars or personal drones are still away from large-scale introduction.

The articles, scientific publications and patent applications analyzed by the SONAR trend platform reflect a historic investment high in autonomous technologies. Players from various industries secure their share of the autonomous future. In addition to the remaining technological hurdles and the regulatory framework to be created – for example for autonomous driving on public roads or unmanned air services – consumer acceptance must increase before autonomous technologies can establish themselves.

Driver of the current progress
Technological advances and cost reductions in sensors, actuators, radar, lidar and camera systems, as well as advances in multi-sensor integration through sensor fusion, improve depth detection for safe and automated motion and bring autonomous things closer to reality. Rapid advances in areas such as AI, ML and Deep Neural Networks, are creating the conditions for autonomously navigating machines. The next generation of supercomputers and the expansion of 5G networks are important prerequisites for autonomous technologies that can process data in real time and make quick decisions.

Autonomous robots & drones as well as driverless vehicles & transport services are the focus of progress towards autonomy: Further development in the areas of AI and navigation technology is leading to a new generation of autonomous robots and drones, which are used in application areas such as retail, security, maintenance, agriculture and transport & logistics. Robots become intelligent, mobile and can interact independently with humans. Autonomous mobile robots are experiencing enormous growth due to increasing e-commerce and the need to optimize storage capacity.

The area of autonomous mobility continues to grow with a new type of Transport-as-a-Service offering: commercial robotic taxis, short-haul delivery services and autonomous food delivery services are already prototyping their services in China, USA and even inEurope, attracting increasing attention among experts. In addition, specially developed vehicles are emerging whose cabin designs are geared to new mobility as a service concepts on demand.

Technologies for autonomous systems, such as AI, ML, 5G, Blockchain, Cloud and Edge Computing, are also experiencing rapid development. Despite these advances, however, there are technological hurdles within the autonomous core technologies surrounding the collection, mapping and processing of data. In the case of hardware, efficiency increases and cost reductions compete with each other. Solid-state lidar solutions are gaining in importance because they are cheaper, faster and have higher resolution. In radar technology, the current focus is on high-resolution 4D solutions that promise higher accuracy at lower cost. First and foremost is the challenge of "cyber security".

"Filippo Rizzante, CTO at Reply, sums up the results of the trend report: “We are on the way to an economy of autonomous things. As autonomous things evolve, they become more integrated, intelligently networked with each other and their environment. They are combined with language technology and emotional intelligence.”

The trend report on Autonomous Things is part of a series on Human Machine Interfaces, AI, Retail Revolution, Consumer-IoT and Quantum Computing.

Reply, specialises in the design and implementation of solutions based on new communication channels and digital media. As a network of highly specialised companies, Reply defines and develops business models enabled by the new models of big data, cloud computing, digital media and the internet of things. Reply delivers consulting, system integration and digital services to organisations across the telecom and media; industry and services; banking and insurance; and public sectors.

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