The continual and rapid progress of artificial intelligence, combined with readily available large data sets, lower prices for sensors and electronics, and a steady demand for efficiency, could be paving the way for a coming “robot revolution.” In fact, in some ways, it is already here. Think of the adoption of robotics across industries as two distinct phrases. We can think of the “first phase,” as when the world was introduced to machines that could perform repetitive tasks. One example of this is seen in automobile manufacturing assembly lines.
The second phase, which has already started, could be described as involving industrial robots that can not only perform simple tasks but also respond to new information and adapt in real-time, performing more complex tasks traditionally reserved for humans. Businesses in industries ranging from agriculture to the military are embracing this incoming wave of innovation. Nevertheless, for many people, the prospect of widespread industry disruption leads to the inevitable question: “What will robots be in the future?”
In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 possible trends to watch for the Future of Robotics in the years to come.
1. Robots As Coworkers
Robots will have a profound effect on the workplace of the future. They’ll become capable of taking on multiple roles in an organization, so it’s time for us to start thinking about the way we’ll interact with our new coworkers.
The machines will likely evolve more in terms of voice recognition, so we’ll be communicating with them through voice commands. This is how futurist Nikolas Badminton expect things to develop: “You’re probably going to walk into an office and your system’s been churning over the last couple of hours considering what’s been going on in business, your role, your job, what you need to do that day, and probably offer up several ideas about the right direction of what to do.”
Robots Might Take Our Jobs
Whether we like it or not, robots have already replaced many people in their jobs. The jobs in office administration, logistics, and transport are also at risk of being replaced. Remember autonomous vehicles? Well, we might see them in the form of big trucks on the roads in future.
A study by Ball State University predicted that many occupations are at risk of being automated, including insurance underwriters, telemarketers, and tax-return preparers. To be more precise, robots are expected to take over half of all low-skilled jobs.
Of course, the area poised to see some of the biggest changes from robotics is in manufacturing. In many areas, robots are now more efficient in unskilled labor than actual human laborers in many manufacturing industries. And manufacturers are taking notice. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the global industrial robot sales doubled over the five years between 2013 and 2017. These numbers are only expected to increase. IoT technology and AI will also accelerate this process, helping manufacturers meet real-time demand much faster than in previous decades.
This is a legitimate concern. It is also not the first time people have feared the power of efficient automation.
Robots Create Jobs Too
One true store that is often referred to when discussing the advent of robot workers is the American Teller Story.
In the early 1990s, U. S. banks began installing automated teller machines across the country. These machines could do just about everything a human teller could do. This fueled fears of job loss, and in fact, the number of human tellers did begin to decline, but at the same time, there was also some good news. The cost-saving brought on by the “robotic teller machines” encouraged banks to open up more branches. Overall, employment in the commercial banking sector actually went up.
“Robots will take our jobs!” is perhaps the most common fear surrounding robotics development. Yes, technology is changing fast and it does have economic ramifications. Driverless cars, for instance, are highly likely to replace cab drivers in the future. In the near future, however, artificial intelligence will most likely replace tasks, not jobs. The good news is that it will also create new markets and jobs. We might need additional education and re-training for those jobs, but the opportunities will be there.
To further illustrate this trend, a report put together by the accountancy firm PwC estimated that between 2017 and 2037, artificial intelligence and robotics will displace up to 7 million jobs. However, the reduction in costs caused by the use of AI and robots would, in turn, generate 7.2 million new jobs, giving a net gain of 200,000 jobs. The argument is not that robots will always create jobs, but that in most instances, it can.
2. Robots Will Make Your Food
Artificial intelligence and robotics could soon be infiltrating your favorite restaurant, and even your home kitchen. Imagine coming home to a pair of robotic hands that can prepare Michelin star quality meals for you. This is the future, and the company Moley Robotics is one of many that are working in this area. The team at Morley recently demonstrated a sleek pair of robotic arms that can cook hundreds of meals in a home kitchen with little provision.
Cobots, the first step towards a robot restaurant
Cobots are advanced robots that can work alongside humans. Restaurants using cobots were called automats and have been in use since the 1970s. Cobots can be used primarily to perform simple tasks such as serving or vending food items. They can automate various repetitive and mundane tasks in a restaurant or over-the-counter tasks. A soda vending machine can be considered a cobot as the process is fully automated. The vending machine can accept the payment and provide the user with the required item. With advancements in the field of robotics, the capabilities of cobots have increased tremendously. Restaurants are already leveraging cobots for simplifying food ordering and payment processes. With just a few clicks, customers can order their favorite meals and pay for them quickly.
Industrial Cases – Improved Product Consistency
Whereas the food and beverage industry has traditionally relied on human workers to handle advanced functions like cutting and slicing, robotics are being developed and implemented to streamline the process and produce more consistent output. Fish cutting, for instance, involves detecting and removing defects from the fish as well as cutting fillets to uniform shapes and sizes. Automated technology improves this function for a higher caliber of consistency in the final results.
Technological advancement in robotics has enabled warehouses to maximize efficiency and get products out the door in a much faster way. Even applications that have been available for some time are continuing to evolve to allow for more complex functions and heightened paces.
This is especially true in the area of picking and placing products like fruit and vegetables, which has historically been challenging to manage via robotics. Improvements in gripper technologies have made it possible to cater to product delicacy using pressure sensors and machine vision solutions. With this advantage, operation speeds can be significantly increased without compromising the quality of the finished product.
3. Robots at Home
Home robots have existed since the 1990s. They are currently used for helping humans with many kinds of domestic chores. The potential of robotics in domestic use covers three primary areas: the running of the home, security and entertainment. We can already see prime examples of IoT influence in all three sectors, including a few items that are now very much considered everyday tools.
The most common use will be helping homeowners with chores like Vacuuming and other cleaning tasks, Lawn mowing, Pool cleaning, Gutter cleaning, Litter box cleaning and so much more. Home robots enhance home security through automated web cams that can detect, record, and alert homeowners to security breaches, as well as warning intruders to leave the property. These robots take on the job of human security guards.
Entertainment robots can control sound systems, store and organize media, and even perform tasks like making drinks for party guests. The Makr Shakr, for instance, is a robotic bar system that can create cocktails with incredible precision. While this technology is not yet widely available for home use, the manufacturer anticipates introducing a home version in the coming years.
More Complex Robots Will Emerge In The Coming Era
Household cleaning robots are only the tip of the iceberg. In the future, our homes may include high-functioning toy and educational robots, robotic personal assistants, and even family companions. In addition, consumer robots may play a key role in eldercare as the population in the developed world ages.
AI Advancement in Home Robots
Industry experts predict that the next generation of personal service robots will be equipped with predictive AI that can anticipate human needs or address security issues before they happen.
This kind of AI advancement will greatly impact the consumer market. Deep Sentinel, for example, plans to release AI-powered home security and surveillance systems that can predict and disrupt crimes before they even occur. This technology relies on high-tech concepts like neural networks, computer vision, and deep learning gained through metadata.
4. Robots and the Future Healthcare Industry
In the field of medicine, where precision is necessary to save patients’ lives, the evolution of robotic technology is particularly useful and profound. Robotics can be helpful in a surprising number of hospital environments. They can perform accurate surgery in tiny places and transport dangerous substances. As a result, the healthcare industry has the potential to save billions of dollars in the coming years.
Manual tasks like medicine delivery and laundry pick-are automated with robots. Elderly patients can be carried and assisted by giant nurse bots that look like teddy bears. And nanorobotics is predicted to be part of a revolutionary new treatment for cancer. Even though the technology is expensive and some of it is years away from being implemented, the use of robots is changing healthcare and it will revolutionize the healthcare industry, saving time, energy, costs, and ultimately improving patient care, which is where it’s true value lies.
Medical Assistant Robots
Allowing nurses to monitor several patients at once, robotic medical assistants monitor patient vital statistics and alert the nurses when there is a need for a human presence in the room. These robotic assistants also automatically enter information into the patient electronic health record. Robotic carts will be seen carrying supplies and moving through the corridors. Robots are also assisting doctors in surgeries, allowing them to conduct surgery through a tiny incision instead of an inches-long incision. Robotics is making a big impact in other areas of medicine as well.
To complete manual tasks, hospitals are eliminating the need for workers in order to save time and money. With the help of trustworthy robots like Tugs, doctors and nurses can spend more time with patients. An autonomous machine, like Tugs, is already whirring around the corridors of numerous establishments around the world, where it transports and distributes meals and medicines to patients. These robots use LIDAR, an algorithm program that produces highly detailed 3D maps by bouncing the laser off its surroundings.
In the U.S., 250,000 people die each year from medical mistakes, some of which can be prevented by using robots during surgical procedures to reduce human error and aid in recovery. Surgical robots like the da Vinci give doctors more control over the operating table, leading to higher rates of success and fewer tragic accidents. Surgeons control the robot with a console, using their hands and feet to manipulate surgical attachments near the patient.
Changing The Future of Healthcare Industry
Robots have already made a significant impact on the healthcare industry. Manual tasks like medicine delivery and laundry pick-are automated with robots. Elderly patients can be carried and assisted by giant nurse bots that look like teddy bears. And nanorobotics is predicted to be part of a revolutionary new treatment for cancer. Even though the technology is expensive and some of it is years away from being implemented, the use of robots is changing healthcare and it will revolutionize the healthcare industry, saving time, energy, costs, and ultimately improving patient care, which is where it’s true value lies.
5. Military Application for Robots
‘The fog of war’ is a phrase used to describe the uncertainty regarding one’s surroundings experienced by all participants in a military conflict. Despite numerous technological advances in the past years that allow soldiers in the field to gather more information about their enemies and surroundings than ever before, the fog of war remains one of the biggest issues on the battlefield today. To solve this problem, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the Squad X project, which aims to eliminate the fog of war by pairing ground soldiers with autonomous robots and drones.
Tested for the first time in November 2018, the project uses autonomous robots and drones to survey the surroundings, identify potential threats, and coordinate soldiers’ movements. All of the information gathered by these machines is analysed by an artificial intelligence system and presented to the soldiers on off-the-shelf Android tablets. The project relies on two separate automated systems. The first one is called BITS Electronic Attack Module (BEAM). Developed by CACI, it allows soldiers to detect, locate, and attack potential threats in the radio frequency and cyber domains. On the other hand, Lockheed Martin’s Augmented Spectral Situational Awareness and Unaided Localization for Transformative Squads (ASSAULTS) uses autonomous robots and drones equipped with sensor systems to detect enemy locations and engage them with precision 40mm grenades.
The robots themselves are unarmed, though. All they are designed to do is gather the necessary information about the battlefield and analyse it, after which the soldiers can decide what to do with it.
New robot can turn any airplane into an autonomous drone
What if, instead of spending millions on developing autonomous planes from scratch, there was a way to turn an existing fleet of military aircraft into autonomous aircraft? Well, that’s the idea behind the new robot recently unveiled by the US Air Force.
Turning an existing airplane into an autonomous one isn’t that difficult if its joysticks, pedals, and other physical controllers are electronically linked to the engines and control surfaces. In that case, a simple software upgrade and an additional computer control system to handle the extra processing is all that’s required. However, older airplanes require far more extensive hardware modifications to make them autonomous. To address this issue, the Air Force Research Laboratory joined forces with DZYNE Technologies Incorporated to develop the Robotic Pilot Unmanned Conversion Program, a robotic system that can make any existing aircraft autonomous.
Also known as ROBOpilot, the robot is installed within a cockpit in place of the seats and it uses actuators, sensors, a robotic arm, and its own power system to operate the plane’s yoke, adjust the throttle, push on the rudder and brake pedals, and flip switches on the dashboard. It even has a camera system to allow it to monitor feedback from various dials and gauges on a plane’s dashboard. In fact, the ROBOpilot is so precise that it can satisfy all of the FAA guidelines required to make proper and legal flights. During a recent test flight at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the ROBOpilot successfully piloted a small Cessna plane for two full hours. It was able to take off, navigate a specific route, and finally land without requiring any human assistance.
The ever-changing geopolitical landscape has encouraged more governments to increase their use of robots in combat. In fact, according to Research and Markets, the rise of terrorist activities across the globe has been a leading factor in the development of uncrewed systems.
The possibilities for robotics within the military and defense are vast. Robots could someday be used for not only picking off snipers but also to rescue people. Expect to see more robots used to help the military with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue, combat support, mine clearance, explosive ordnance, and fire fighting.
The machines promise to change virtually every aspect of human life, from health care to transportation to work. We’ve seen this throughout history: automation and mechanization boosts the overall standard of living. We’ve seen it with the Industrial Revolution, and it’s going to happen again. With software automating all kinds of work, we’re looking at a more comfortable future for ourselves.
One thing is abundantly clear: The machines have arrived. Now we have to figure out how to handle the responsibility of having invented a whole new species.
Robots as coworkers – https://blog.robotiq.com/10-ways-robotics-could-transform-our-future
Robots will make your food – https://interestingengineering.com/robots-will-not-take-over-the-world-yet-but-they-may-take-over-some-industries
Robots Will Be Family Members at Home in the Future – https://www.rfidjournal.com/the-future-of-robots-in-the-home
Robots Will be part of the Future of Healthcare Industry – https://apacentrepreneur.com/how-robotics-is-changing-the-future-of-healthcare/
Military Robots and the Future of Warfare – https://blog.richardvanhooijdonk.com/en/military-robots-will-the-wars-of-the-future-be-fought-by-intelligent-machines/