When we think of robots, it's easy to conjure up futuristic images of mechanical, backflipping dogs or expensive programmed butlers that wait on our every need. But the real unsung heroes are the ones changing our industries for the better.
Thanks to AI-powered navigation and advancements, robots have broken out of tightly controlled environments to offer new value to public-facing businesses and their employees (those working in retail, malls, airports). Self-driving robots aren't intended to replace human workers but instead support them in tasks that humans are more averse to or that put them in harm's way.
According to Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research, businesses that are keen to succeed and future-proof their operations will accelerate their robotic investment strategies.
Robots and technology allow workers to focus on tasks that robots can't do, such as disinfecting surfaces, increasing productivity, and enhancing customer engagement.
Take the cleaning of a store's floor. Having a robot take this on allows more time for employees to help customers or ensure shelves get stocked and helps them deliver a consistent, measurable, and visibly clean premise that people can trust. Additionally, for dangerous or strenuous jobs, such as pulling up to 1,000lbs worth of stock from the back of a warehouse to store shelves, robots are the perfect workers.
I believe that soon we will see a wider variety of functions performed by robotic technology across business sectors, including virtual video tours that enable remote visibility, point-to-point mobile delivery, and an increasing assortment of data-focused applications and stronger data collection capabilities.
The latest generation of autonomous robots are designed to be simple to use and will still need people to train and maintain them, decide where and how to deploy them, and leverage the unique operational data they provide. Today’s robots are part of a far more pragmatic reality, and the collaboration of humans and these intelligent machines is something we should look forward to embracing.
Michel Spruijt is vice-president BrainCorp Europe