With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, the world is having more sightings of robots and robotic solutions. Robotic arms are performing industrial repetitive yet dangerous tasks in factories. Warehouses are now using wheeled robots and collaborative ones, or cobots, to allocate items and do inventories. It is not rare to see more of these machines featuring in Hollywood blockbusters. In fact, there have been 6 different Terminator movies up to date (2020). Gradually and inevitably, we are moving towards the Era of Robots.
The first truly mobile and receptive robot was invented by SRI International in Silicon Valley in the 1960s, known as Shakey (1). Just as the name suggests, the robot was a tower built on wheels, shaky and not quite confident-looking, but it ticked all the basic criteria to be regarded as a robot. Consequently, the birth of Shakey sparked the evolution of the robotic solutions, followed by manufacturing robot arms, Honda’s humanoid robots P3, to the ground-breaking Asimo robot that could talk and shake hands.
Just like humans who have different backgrounds and cultures, robots also have unique categories (2).
- Manipulators: They work in factories, warehouses, and heavy-lifting required environments to support the labor force in tasks that humans cannot perform with equivalent speed nor efficiency. Manipulators include robotic arms that are physically anchored to their work station.
- Mobile robots: The most common and widely-used, mobile robotic solutions are everywhere: in retail, underwater, or deep in mines. They can move around with built-in wheels or robotic legs.
- Mobile manipulators: Having the other name as humanoid robots, this category’s purpose is to mimic the human parts.
On the same note, Superflash’s products fall into the Mobile robots category. They can autonomously navigate and deliver items through voice command. Read more about our robots Sail and Run.
Transition into the era of robots
With the abundance of robots nowadays, the world is shifting into a more autonomous, AI-driven society where humans and our robotic counterparts are expected to live in harmony. For instance, McDonald’s already purchased an AI company to make predictions on their drive-through customers’ orders. On the other hand, Nike has also employed AI for more than a decade in inventory management and customer traffic (3). It is not long before AI and robotic solutions are found in every industry.
More importantly, under the pressure of social distancing caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, less human interaction means more rooms for robotic presence. As a result, Businesses must now make new strategies to survive through the crisis. One of the recommended steps is to get familiarized with robotic solutions.
On the whole, we still not yet know how drastically the world might change in the next few years into the new era, but one thing for certain is that robots are here to stay.
List of references:
(1): Mitra, R. 2018. Robotics in the Era of Artificial Intelligence. https://medium.com/@montouche/robotics-in-the-era-of-artificial-intelligence-6747f0d9ede2
(2): Simon, M. 2020. The Wired Guide to robots. https://www.wired.com/story/wired-guide-to-robots/
(3): A time to embrace the era of robotics. https://www.rebellionresearch.com/blog/a-time-to-embrace-the-era-of-robotics