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Robotics

That day is not far when you will spot a robot along your side during your morning walk. But its mission of walking may be different from yours! The robot may be a staff from the environmental department (gathering data on air pollution) or from the health department (transmitting images on cleanliness aspects along the route, like accumulation of garbage, dirt etc).

Robots are objects that can move.Robots having the look and form of a human (humanoid) or a non humanoid (robotic arms or say an inanimate object like a vacuum cleaner etc). Hypothetically, in future for robots to be “equal” to humans, it must have all aspects of human attributes like the perception of the senses, hands, feet, eyes, etc and of course a brain (Cognitive skills). But not all the attributes are needed for all robot applications.

‘Wet’ Nano robots are DNA based biological robots which are not visible to the naked eye. Development of Nano robots are still in the R & D stage, and will later highly revolutionize the Medical field in diagnosis and prognosis (cure).

Future robots are linked with advanced AI software, supported by the power of cloud computing and aided by a huge flow of investments is pacing the technological revolution in this field. It is getting better by the day-the vision being that a robot is to be made, at least, as intelligent as a human.

Let us peek into some functional segments of future robots-a confluence or blend of robotics, AI and cloud computing technologies along with associated gadgets and applications.

Utility Robots

     1. Manufacturing

  • Cobots (Collaborative Robots)

As the name suggests, Cobots work side by side with humans at the work place. The spatial dangers of traditional robots (have a demarcated space where humans were not allowed) to humans will vanish. Cobots may work as assistants or seniors to humans based on their assigned job and would stop their job when touched by humans.

     2. Logistics

  • Self Driving Delivery Trucks 

Autonomous vehicles have the primary objective of safety and lives and next, the efficiency of their mission (expenses, fuel, delivery time etc).

Trucking technology development is underway by startups:

A data set of over 4 million risky driving experiences and events have been gathered, that can be accessed through the cloud infrastructure.

Working towards retrofitting and modifying existing vehicles for conversion to self driving ones

Conducting research on operating vehicles in a “convoy” with the lead vehicle having a driver for steering control only (other operations being autonomous) and the follower vehicles on driver-less mode-full autonomous control .A sort of master-slave hierarchy.

     3. Warehousing

  • Picking Robots

The warehouse assistant provides a list of items to be picked from the racks to the picking robot. Picking robots, mobile and/or with pedestal docking, identify the items and move to the respective shelves. Smaller robots will assist the picker robot by holding the bin (carton) and after the listed items are in the bin, the picker robot places the bin on the conveyor for the final automated sealing or strapping.

  • Heavy Lifting Robots

Development is underway in designing robots that would aid human pickers in lifting heavy items.

     4. Hotels

  • Robot chef

This chef will carry out the cooking functions (placing, whipping, mixing, choosing the oven temperature etc) with better speed and motions than a human chef. As of now, fast food items like burgers etc are within the robot chef’s scope.

But for other dishes the ingredients (proportions) are as equally important as the cooking and so also the taste check. These are still under the purview of the human chef.

     5. Education-Personalized Adaptive Learning

Adaptive robot instructors (teachers) will be able to identify concept gaps or lack of skills and then arrive at a teaching plan. The robot uses the contents of this plan to engage the student, bridging the concept gaps and progresses to the next topic. Such Robots are Ok with one to one (student centric) learning.

An Education Robot may replace a teacher for classroom (traditional learning) delivery of contents. Student centric learning cannot happen in a classroom (say, with 40 students) because each student may have concept gaps at different levels in the same topic. The Adaptive learning robot may devise 40 plans but those cannot be explained individually within the stipulated lecture time.

      6. Healthcare

Robot pharmacist can read your prescription, check the availability and with the assistance from smaller robots pick, pack and hand over your medicines.

     7. Home

  • Window Cleaning Robot

Pedestal mounted and with robotic arms having varying degrees of freedom. The robotic arms with its more or less seamless movement, cleans up the pane in a row or column sequence.

      8. Customer Services

In hotels (hospitals) robots will receive you and guide you to check in or a house keeping robot that checks the cleanliness levels of your space during your stay and take corrective measures.

Non utility

     9. Pets

The tradition of keeping live pets dates back to many centuries Dogs, cats, reptiles etc. Currently humans do keep pets including spiders, squirrels etc as companions for comfort.

Development on future pet robots mainly is on the cognitive skills front-how close they can interact or react to human impulses, compassion, reciprocation and emotions etc? Can they feel the presence of their master approaching and greet?

Robot pets offer social or emotional support to the disadvantaged and underprivileged in care centers/shelters or to the patients with autism or other mental disorders in hospitals.

    10. Nano Robots

Nanotechnology is the technology of manipulating and controlling materials at a scale between 1 and 100 nano meters (referred to as the atomic or molecular scale).

Nano Robots (also called Wet or Biological robots) are still in the R & D stage. Nano Robots are machines made of DNA.As a simple example, they can swim in our arteries and monitor and report our blood parameters. Further they are capable of early diagnosis of cancer. Nano Rocket robots can ensure the targeted delivery of drugs to the affected cells.

What are the doubts that arise in our minds?

To what extent can the future robots achieve perfection in performing as a human in all aspects? At a stage, when even medical research is still ongoing in understanding how the human brain works, future intelligent robots may have limitations in executing many functions that are performed by humans.

Societal issues like job losses etc haunt us because of future robots but new jobs related to the robotic field may be created elsewhere. However, many of us will still tune our mindsets, welcome and own a home robot by the year 2040 or even earlier, to achieve our specific home needs.

Sources:
Cognitive Robotics -Hooman Samani
Developmental Robotics .From Babies to Robots– Angelo Cangelosi and Matthew Schlesinger
From manual gesture to speech: A gradual transition— Gentilucci M, Corballis M.C
Language, gesture and the developing brain– Bates E, Dick F.

Author

Akhil A

COO | Robot-assisted test automation on real HMI Devices | IVI | Smart Device | Touchscreens | Keypad | Avionics panel |Mobile

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