Olivier de Berranger

The Rise of the Machines

Atlas is a humanoid robot developed by Boston Dynamics – bipedal, agile as an Olympic athlete, designed for challenging environments, and initially somewhat disconcerting. Or even frightening. Nonetheless, Atlas is a miracle of technology, possessed of impressive poise. If not the world, this Atlas could certainly carry the industrial renaissance on its shoulders, at the very least.

Demographic issues, the ageing population, arduous work, the growth of the service economy – there is no lack of challenges for the manufacturing sectors. Meanwhile our need for electronic, infrastructure and transport equipment shows no sign of dwindling.

Revolutionary solutions thanks to robotics

Robotics could well provide a revolutionary response to solving the economic imbalances within the industrial sector, in particular, thanks to the use of industrial robots such as those of Japanese group FANUC or KUKA in Germany. Human/robot interaction in the workplace is showing rapid growth, with the use of collaborative robots known as cobots, such as those of Danish manufacturer Universal Robots, which was taken over by US company Terdyne in 2015 for US-Dollars 285 million. This new generation of robots has intelligent sensors and can work perfectly safely alongside humans, thus facilitating the semi-automated production of goods. A high-performance duo that combines the advantages of machines and humans.

The technological race is also resulting in a wave of innovation in the healthcare sector with the boom in robotic surgery. The Da Vinci robotic platforms of Intuitive Surgical are based on technology developed by NASA; they multiply the capabilities of the surgeon (so far a human) thanks to four robotic arms and augmented reality modules that deliver precise real-time information. The Californian company also develops robots capable of carrying out minimally invasive surgery, which improves patient outcomes.

Another ongoing trend is the adoption of robotic systems in logistics warehouses, used for e-commerce in particular. The massive rise in online orders has forced warehouses to ramp up capacities, facilitating high-performance intelligent systems such as those of Japanese company DAIFUKU or COGNEX in the US.

Forerunner for future growth

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also found an additional outlet for its wave of innovations in the field of robotics: the Internet of Things enables each element of a factory to be connected to a central control system. This system is capable of analysing and optimising production in real time, and even of intervening proactively to avoid any breakdowns or production stoppages. These intelligent solutions combining the prodigious capabilities of AI and robotics represent a fertile breeding ground for future economic growth.

Utopia or growth vector, robotics has a rosy future ahead of it with an estimated market size of US-Dollars 90 billion by 2030 . Numerous companies are taking an interest in the area, creating a pool of potential from which our thematic investment solutions are likely to benefit.