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Rise of Bots: What You Need to Know

A trawl through Google reveals many messages warning us that robots are set to wipe out the human race. Eric Shepherd explains what's here, what's coming, and the benefits for us.

It seems we are both suspicious and scared of what we imagine they may become. Never mind the contributions of robotics already. Their abilities to diffuse bombs. Or the robot’s use in farming to increase crop yields. Or even their use in pharmacies improving on the accuracy of medical prescriptions. It’s therefore probably time to redress the balance and take a more realistic vision of what robotics can accomplish. Especially now that robots have landed in the workplace.

Over the next few years, robots will expand their skill sets, revealing impressive performance and retention rates, and moving up the ladder. More than just machines, working diligently to manufacture devices, vehicles, and machines, now robots come in all shapes and sizes. Here is a sample of robot types that we'll be discussing here:

  • Collaborative Industrial Robots (Cobots) that work alongside humans

  • Warehouse robots operate autonomously to pick and pack goods for shipment

  • In-store robots to provide information and a seamless checkout experience

  • Chatbots are systems that can engage in text or verbal conversations

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that provides

  • Industrial robots that work autonomously to manufacture goods

Let's take a real look at how these robots are being deployed.

Collaborative Industrial Bots (Cobots)

Cobots are the latest model of robotic technologies that work alongside humans. The concept of collaboration is operating with people to create something. Tradition robots worked autonomously and in isolation relieving any safety concerns. Cobots collaborate with employees rather than as a substitute for them.

Cobots are industrial robots according to the definition of The Industry Federation of Robotics. Although cobots may be the future workforce, they only represent a small part of the annual revenue of industrial robots every year. The number of deployed units is still minimal, with only 3.24% share. In 2018, total industrial robots installed were 42,000, and out of them only 14, 000 were cobots, and in 2017, only 11,100 cobots were installed.

Warehouse Bots

Many machines can now move around the warehouse autonomously. In 2016, the warehouse robotics industry was estimated at 6 billion in value by 2022.

Amazon contracted $775 million for the Kiva Systems in 2012, and after 6 years, 45,000 Kiva robots were installed at the fulfillment centers. During the Christmas season, these robots processed 306 items per second.

Now several other stores are using these robots. Clothing Company Gap is using Kindred robots for processing, packing, and shipping products.

The main task is to make these robots available to other companies. The warehouse robots are inexpensive, easy to install, and will help the smaller companies to expand their business.

Delivery Bots

We will be seeing autonomous robots on the roads delivering packages in the upcoming years. Some organizations have been using them for home deliveries, but they are not yet in widespread use.

Domino's Pizza has introduced its Robotic unit. It is the very first robot for home delivery and looks like a combination of R2-D2 and the overweight oven. Four-wheeled, 3-ft high robots have been launched in 10 countries, including Germany, France, and New Zealand. Domino's Robotic Unit (DRU) uses several sensors for navigation and temperature maintenance. It maintains the temperature for both cold and hot food efficiently.

Starship Technologies have already a home delivery robot, and the company has confirmed its program to deploy thousands of its six-wheeled delivery robots. The robot contains GPS and a camera, but the upcoming models will have also have speakers, microphones, and they will be able to communicate with clients. Starship has already delivered 50,000 robots in 100 countries.

American company Kroger has been using the self-driving car to carry the cargo in Huston. A famous engineer of Google Jiajun Zhu, who founded Nuro, has developed this delivery robot. It can carry 12 bags of groceries. The new version of this delivery robot will carry 20 bags of groceries.

Amazon tested its Prime Air delivery drones secretly in 2016 and announced to build the drones, which can fly up to 15 miles, and it can deliver the packages in just 30 minutes. Soon after that, 7-Eleven, Walmart, Alibaba, and Google have also started working on delivery drones.

The Head of the Federal Aviation Authority's drone integration department has said that they are working on drone deliveries and very soon will start the operations soon.

In-Store Bots