Predicting the future is impossible. But there are techniques, to foresee how the world, markets and technologies are going to evolve. Since many years, Dominik is working and researching at the cutting edge of corporate foresight, future research and innovation management. His work has been cited all around the globe, is foundation for corporate strategies and governmental roadmaps alike as well as being used by other initiatives and research groups, including the United Nations, the European Parliament and the White House.

„[…] In innovation management, the analysis of the so-called ‘Megatrends’ [3] provides one commonly accepted method for estimating driving forces that will have impact on the whole planet earth and humanity over the next 15 to 25 years. Extrapolating these trends, it is possible to make predictions for future needs, developments of future markets and overall requirements for technological innovation. Mobility, globalization, global warming, overageing society, urbanization, digital life/connectivity, individualization and orientation towards a healthy lifestyle are an often cited subset of megatrends that will heavily influence the evolution of (industrial) robotics and automation.

New markets will emerge driven by the augmented demand resulting from exuberant worldwide population growth. The United Nations expect the global population will exceed 8 billion people by 2025 and 10 billion around 2060 [4] [5]. Different needs will arise from this demographic change: First, an overall rising demand for production capabilities will become immanent, partly driven by the new economic power of some markets (mainly in Asia); e.g., Asian B2C e-commerce has shown growth-rates of more than 70% per year so far and other markets perform similarly [6].

To satisfy the burgeoning demand of consumption, manufacturing has to find new ways to produce and supply the needed products in sufficient number and time. Furthermore, after production, those goods have to be packaged and shipped to customers, which will substantially boost the logistics market so that logistics will be playing a key role in all areas of economy. The global logistics market is expected to grow at least 2.5–3% per year with an annual volume of far more than 1 trillion ϵ at the moment [7] [8]. Combined with the current demographic developments [9] (in 2020, 50% of the German society and workforce will consist of 50+ year olds [10]), a huge potential for automation accrues. The rising request for labor can no longer be met even if the current amount of workforce would remain constant.

As the demographics hint to a dramatic shortage in available human labor (starting in Europe, spreading all over the world and climaxing after 2050, e.g., the United Nations are expecting a lack of population within Europe of about 40 million by 2060 [11]). Despite the rising population in the rest of the world, there will be a gap twice as big to fill — which unleashes unexpended potential for robot-based automation solutions. On one hand, the existing workforce has to be supported, in order to keep it capable of performing their tasks as long and as comfortable as possible. On the other hand, we will also need to support the elderly in their daily life, as humankind will not only work longer, but also live longer (the U.N. predicts an average life expectancy in the first world in 2040 of 92.4 years [11]). Keeping people active and mobile as long as possible — especially in their own home environment! – will gain more and more importance, so that investments in the field of home assisted living and elderly care or rehabilitation at home, e.g., for stroke patients, will grow accordingly. Both gaps can be filled with a ‘robotic workforce’. Trends, like ‘robostaffing’ are meanwhile addressed even by conservative analysts and are expected to be broadly established at latest by 2025 [12]. […]“

Excerpt from D. Boesl, B. Liepert, „4 Robotic Revolutions – Proposing a holistic phase model describing future disruptions in the evolution of robotics and automation and the rise of a new Generation ‘R’ of Robotic Natives“, IEEE IROS, 2016 [DOWNLOAD HERE].