It would be difficult to find a person who hasn't heard or hasn't seen the goofy experiments and tests Boston Dynamics puts their robots through – they make them work, move boxes, cross rugged terrain, and sustain numerous humiliations by their human "overlords". But, it would be more difficult to find anyone aware of their actual uses beyond being a source for laughs and internet memes.
Their robots indeed are not widely used outside the company's labs, since the company mostly focuses on innovation in their work rather than on market appeal.
Yet, not all companies choose this path in the robotics business. For instance, Lenovo Group, a newcomer in this market, has decided to put their emphasis on the practicality and application of their products in real-life scenarios instead of cutting-edge innovations. That is probably what helped the company secure solid positions in the robotics niche despite only releasing the third-generation of its industrial Daystar Robot in October 2020.
The release of the third-generation robot was a major success for the company, mostly on the domestic market in China, where industrial production is going through active digitalisation. Many companies in the Asian nation have already started to expand their use of robots in manufacturing, replacing humans in those workplaces primarily associated with danger or hazard's to one's health - such as search and rescue operations, working with explosive substances, or handling radioactive materials.
Lenovo's Daystar Robot has found a market beyond China as well – its first-generation models are already working in Russian factories. The global market for the use of robots in manufacturing is expanding every year, with China, Japan, the United States, South Korea, and Germany being the main consumers, according to assessments from 2019.
So What's Made Lenovo's Robots More Appealing Than Products by Market Veterans?
The Chinese tech company put a strong emphasis on practical applications of its Daystar Robot. At the moment of its release in October 2020, all it could do was paint aircraft parts. However, over the next six months, the robot learned a few more new tricks and it can now process foreign bodies, sort objects based on such things as colour, and engage in intelligent patrol inspection.
Lenovo also added the ability to control its robots remotely using augmented reality goggles and a pair of controllers – with them a worker can, for example, paint a part without exposing themselves to chemicals or risk contracting the coronavirus from co-workers. The robot, in turn, learns from its human operator, eventually grasping the technique, and reproduces it without external guidance.
Additional features such as the ability to multitask in cooperation with other Daystar robots and navigate environments filled with obstacles without assistance, helped Lenovo to secure demand for its newest product.
Although it is hard to undervalue the input of companies such as Boston Dynamics as robotics evolves, workhorses, such as Lenovo's Daystar, currently dominate the robot market.