10 robots ready to join the human workforceMarie Donlon | August 27, 2020
It is inevitable. They are here. And each time a report comes out suggesting that they will not take jobs from humans, another one emerges.
Joining the human workforce ranks are robots acting as teachers, surgeons, nurses, cooks, caregivers, police officers and more. Following is a list of just a few job titles with robots poised to take over tasks.
The average person likely does not employ a butler at their residence. But for those who do employ hired help, researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a robotic butler capable of transporting drinks to their human employers.
M-Hubo, is a fully autonomous humanoid robot on wheels that can serve drinks faster than its robot counterparts due to a design technique from KAIST researchers that incorporates a 3D-object detection network along with a kinematically optimal manipulation planner. The technique reportedly enables M-Hubo to deliver drinks at 24% the speed of humans.
To protect soldiers on the battlefield, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Command Army Research Laboratory has built a robot to assist soldiers in the field.
The Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation, or LLAMA, is an autonomous, quadruped, mobility research platform developed to reduce a soldiers’ load by carrying their equipment, thereby increasing soldier mobility and lethality.
The all-electric robot is composed of high-torque actuators and algorithms for intelligence, autonomy and advanced perception. Additionally, LLAMA can navigate structured and unstructured environments, including stairs and rough terrain. Currently, LLAMA has three degrees of freedom per leg.
In use across classrooms in China is a kindergarten teaching assistant called Keeko.
Standing at just under two feet tall, Keeko tells students stories and challenges them with logic problems, all while traveling around on a set of small wheels and equipped with both navigational sensors and a front-facing camera.
Keeko interacts with students by presenting them with stories and related problem-solving tasks. Whenever a student accomplishes a task or answers a question correctly, Keeko responds by flashing heart-shaped eyes on its face display.
A Buddhist temple in Japan employs a robot that preaches Buddhist wisdom.
The life-sized robot, called Mindar, can recite Buddhist writings, including passages from the Heart Sutra, a set of well-known Buddhist scriptures, to visitors at the 400-year-old Kodaiji temple in Kyoto, Japan.
Designed in the likeness of Kannon, an archetypical Buddhist deity who is the personification of mercy, Mindar is capable of moving its arms, head and torso and clasping its hands. While its face, shoulders and hands are covered in silicone to give the robot more life-like qualities, the rest of Mindar’s body is composed of visible mechanical components and the robot’s left eye houses a tiny video camera.
Scientists at Washington State University (WSU) have developed a robot with the potential for keeping elderly people with dementia and other limitations living in their own homes longer.
Using sensors embedded throughout a WSU smart home, the Robot Activity Support System (RAS) can locate where residents of the home are and what their needs might be. RAS can travel through the home avoiding obstacles while in search of the residents and offer them help with activities of daily living via video instructions that demonstrate how to complete specific tasks or by leading residents to their medications or snacks.
RAS may one day reduce the estimated $2 trillion price tag associated with providing an estimated 50% of U.S. adults 85 and older with assistance in their daily activities of living each year, according to the makers of RAS. The WSU researchers expect that systems like RAS will alleviate some of the financial burden on the healthcare system by keeping the elderly at home longer.
Teams from the University of California, Berkeley, Google Brain and Intel Corporation have developed a robot capable of simulating suturing.
Through a project called Motion2Vec, the researchers used 78 instructional videos to train the two-armed DaVinci robot’s AI to insert needles into a cloth device, thereby mimicking a suturing motion.
The team used Siamese networks to enable the robot to mimic the suturing motions gleaned from the instructional videos.
Although the technology’s use in an operating room is far into the future, researchers believe that eventually, repetitive tasks during surgery, such as suturing, could one day be accomplished by robots, thereby freeing up surgeons to focus on more complex surgical tasks.
The police officer
A member of Singapore’s police force is an actual robotic police officer, or "robocop."
With a swiveling head and flashing lights, the autonomous robot moves on four wheels and measures at about 5 ft tall, transmitting a 360° picture of its patrol area and navigating independently via a pre-determined route while avoiding obstacles.
A bartending robot from QBIT Robotics in Japan pours drinks and mixes cocktails within one minute at a Tokyo pub and interacts with customers via a tablet that serves as its face.
The robot bartender is outfitted with four cameras, all of which are used to analyze and assess a customer’s facial expressions using AI software.
Picnic, a Seattle-based startup, is a robotics as a service (RaaS) startup attempting to automate the pizza-making process using deep learning technology that enables a robot to make 300 12 inch pizzas in just one hour.
The end-to-end automated assembly platform, designed for both the food service and hospitality industries, is customizable and uses deep learning and computer vision to move the pizza through the assembly line.
Once an order is entered into the system, it goes to a digital queue, alerting a human operator to place the dough on the automated assembly line. A network of modules adds the selected toppings to the dough and the pizza cooks in under one minute. In the event that mistakes are made anywhere along the assembly line, the system communicates them to the robot via the internet, so the AI can learn from those mistakes.
In 2017, a robotic masseuse began work at the NovaHealth Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic in Singapore.
Called Emma (Expert Manipulative Massage Automation), the robot specializes in knee and back massages while offering a low-cost alternative to standard massages.
Capable of doing the work of two masseuses, Emma is equipped with sensors, a touchscreen and an articulated robotic limb, along with two soft silicon massage tips that deliver relief to stiff muscles and tendons. Using AI, Emma is able to determine how much pressure to apply using personal patient data.
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