Robotics, as a discipline has been around for a long time. The increasing demand for automation, however, has seen interest in robots grow exponentially. Statista estimates that the market for Robo-advisors will be worth $225 billion in 2020. It is just one segment of the field of robotics.

The increasing prominence of AI as a framework for more efficient robots has revolutionized the whole industry. To be sure, artificial intelligence now forms the backbone of the robotics industry. AI has come in as a mechanism through which robots can be made to respond to their environment with less room for error.

Machine learning, a subset of AI, is enabling scientists to teach robots to perform human tasks with the same level of efficiency. This aspect of AI allows robots to deliver new jobs without the need for reprogramming by humans. Already, machine learning is enabling robots to work alongside humans in factories and other production facilities. 

The Heasy robot has been designed as a smart home terminal, able to educate customers and move alone in space. Photo by: LSA.
The Heasy robot has been designed as a smart home terminal, able to educate customers and move alone in space. Photo by: LSA.

AI is also being used to develop and optimize computer vision. It entails the ability of robots to perceive the real-world environment with higher accuracy. This solution is being implemented in drones, which can perform rescue operations and even deliver goods for e-commerce companies like Amazon. 

Where are AI and robotics now?

Robotics as a discipline is fast-moving. While robots were primarily seen as only geared at replacing human workers, they are taking on new challenges.

Nonetheless, a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) indicates that automation is still the driver of robotics. WEF noted that between 2000 and 2015, the number of robots imported internationally rose from 100,000 to 250,000. As such, the robots will continue to transform the workplace going forward. 

In 2018, the most important trends in robotics were several. First, ANYbotics, a Swiss robotics startup, created a quadruped robot designed for the workplace. The quadrobot was able to carry out inspections of power distribution platforms in offshore locations in the North Sea. In total, the quadrobot covered 16 inspection points in addition to checking water and oil levels, checked gauges, and levers. 

Also in 2018, AI officially made its debut in the world of art after a robot co-created a painting. The robot was powered by a novel AI solution dubbed generative adversarial network (GAN). Notably, the portrait was auctioned, and it fetched $432,000.

AI is also enabling robots to make conversations as the Google Duplex unveiled at the Google I/O event. Although the speaking robot is still a tech demo, it represents a massive step in the advancement of AI.

The future of AI in robotics

For a long time, the future of AI in robotics has been dreadful to the working masses. However, pro-AI crusaders argue that while it is true robots will take over human jobs, another set of tasks will be created. A counterpoint to this argument is that the new jobs which AI will create will appear in different places and away from the areas where jobs were lost. Also, the jobs will require a different set of skills that some workers will not be in a position to acquire.

Nonetheless, there is a lot of potential in AI to make the world a better place. It can only be quantified by the amount of money going into AI automation and robotic/intelligent process automation (RPA/IPA). AI alone developed at a mind-blowing speed from 2017 to 2018. Mainly, AI was worth $700 billion in 2017 and expanded to $1.2 trillion in 2018.

Further, the world will be more convenient, as evidenced by Heasy, an entirely interactive robot kiosk. Manufactured by Hease Robotics, a French company, the robot will help the retail industry to automate services. Heasy is a robotic mobile kiosk that can be useful in train stations, shopping centers, and even airports. Notably, the robot is autonomous and can interact with humans quite well.

Advanced algorithms in AI will also enable robots to teach like it is being experimented in Japan. The country will use robots to teach English in preparation for the massive traffic of tourists.

Wrapping up 

In conclusion, AI and robotics are growing fast. As such, it is difficult even to predict what the future holds for the industry. Mainly, robots will be smarter, and they will take up more jobs hence displacing humans. However, the upside is more significant as the world will become more efficient and safer.


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