2021 technology predictions: rapidly accelerating innovation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Author : Subject matter experts at Vicor

01 February 2021

Vicor - 2021 Predictions
Vicor - 2021 Predictions

Buried in the tumult of 2020 – a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic – was a rapid acceleration in the speed of innovation. Nowhere was this more evident than in the record-breaking development of not one, but multiple, COVID-19 vaccines. But the accelerating pace of innovation is also evident in other fields, driven by shifting habits & reset priorities in response to the pandemic.

The full version of this viewpoint was originally featured in the February 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

Looking ahead to 2021, subject matter experts at power component specialist, Vicor outline examples from across industry – in aerospace & defence, drones & robotics, automotive and high-performance computing (HPC) – where existing trends will significantly accelerate, placing greater stress on the use and development of efficient and compact modular-based power delivery networks (PDNs).

Prediction #1: Aerospace & defence
The big three drivers of change for 2021 will be the pandemic, hypersonic missiles and asymmetric warfare, says Teo DeLellis, Vicor’s Defence & Aerospace Business Development Manager for EMEA.

As a result of the massive investment to combat COVID-19, governments around the world have had to reprioritise and shift economic support to help communities, businesses and citizens deal with the impact of the pandemic. A June 2020 study by aerospace & defence open-source intelligence company, Janes highlighted that defence spending is down among NATO’s top European spenders. Consequently, as we enter 2021, there will be incredible fiscal pressure on governments to redirect funds away from traditional budget strongholds, such as defence, to shore up national economies, social welfare and other important endeavours. This shift is in direct contradiction to the geopolitical pressures of rising nationalism on many levels, for example, Sweden’s decision to increase military spending by 40%, as tension with Russia grows...

Prediction #2: Drones & robotics
European drone and robot sightings set to reach 747 million in 2021, says Henryk Dabrowski, Vicor’s Vice President of Sales for EMEA.

By the end of 2021, for every woman, man and child in Europe, there will be at least one sighting of a delivery robot or drone on its way to drop off a package or disinfecting public spaces as a part of our fight against the pandemic...

Prediction #3: Automotive
COVID has accelerated the move to electric vehicles and the migration to 48V systems, says Nicolas Richard, Vicor’s Director of Automotive Business Development for EMEA.

Transportation has been among the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Fewer people are commuting or travelling long distances. The automotive industry has seen a rapid decline in sales, and forecasts show this slowdown extending well into 2021. Manufacturers have responded by placing increased focus on growth segments, specifically electric vehicles (EVs). While they have cut back development on traditional cars, auto makers are moving ahead with EV developments, focusing on technology that delivers competitive advantage. While there are fewer commuters, surveys show that people feel much safer using their own cars rather than public transportation. Consequently, we believe this will accelerate the need for cost-effective EVs, meaning the trend to replace 12V PDNs with 48V PDNs will also accelerate with the increased focus on deeper investment into EV development...

Prediction #4: High-performance computing (HPC)
Data centre capacity demand will exceed physical plant space, says Lev Slutskiy, Vicor’s Regional Manager for Northern Germany & Eastern Europe.

Data centres were already growing at a rapid pace, but the pandemic has further accelerated data centre demands even beyond previous forecasts – and will continue as a permanent increase, even after coronavirus has abated. More people are working at home, more students are attending school from home, and with fewer options for leisure time outside the home, more people are streaming videos and playing online games. We have experienced how critically reliant users are on the data centre metropolitan backbones enabling today’s telecommunications infrastructure. In 2021, the quest for more power efficiency in the data centre will step up a gear, and we believe not only will the data centre industry purchase more renewable energy than in previous years, but we also anticipate more data centres moving away from alternating current (AC), in favour of direct current (DC) infrastructure solutions, to better cope with the massive increases in power demands of high-performance computing (HPC)...

Read the full viewpoint in EPDT's February 2021 issue...

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