Humanoid Robots – What to Expect in the Coming Year
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Sharp jawline, doe-brown eyes and fluttery eye-lashes; Sophia, the world’s first AI-powered humanoid is quite a stunner with impressive features. Besides looks, she boasts of an admirable sense of humour. Designed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, Sophia has many human values like wisdom, compassion and kindness. She is also capable of expressing her emotions, holding eye contact, recognizing faces and understanding human speech. Well, Sophia is not the only humanoid robot the world is gushing over. There is Nedbank’s fully programmable hospitality-bot Fabio, the bipedal humanoid Atlas, and, of course, the adorable tomato-feeding Tomatan.
With advances in the fields of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, humanoid robots have come a long way in the last few years. From cleaning houses to cooking meals, they can potentially perform any task like a human. While the exceptional development of industrial robots has already revolutionized product manufacturing, fully-functional humanoid robots are yet to become mainstream. However, as we approach the end of another year, the scenario could change soon. With a month left for 2019, let’s take a look at what the upcoming year holds for humanoid robots.
In December 2017, the world’s first humanoid robotics mass production factory was opened in Turkey. The AkinRobotics Factory, established by a software company called AkinSoft, makes robots that can process what they hear, smell and speak. Moreover, they can use the internet! In the forthcoming year, we could see large-scale mass production of humanoid robots taking place. As we stand on the brink of the 4th industrial revolution, several companies are already toying with the idea of opening mass production factories for humanoid robots.
1. Humanoids to Become Part of Our Families
Experts believe that it won’t be long before humanoids become part of our families. In the near future, children are likely to grow up with robot companies who will look after them; much similar to nannies. Scientists have already been able to program humanoids with emotions like empathy and compassion. And, in countries like Japan, where humanoid robots are well-accepted, it’s very likely that people will have no problem welcoming robots into their homes. For instance, when Pepper was launched in Japan in 2005, its initial 1000 units were sold out within a minute. In 2019, we could expect humanoids making their way inside our houses and live alongside as nannies or domestic help.
2. Humanoids to Take Over Dull and Dangerous Jobs
About 5 years ago, Elon Musk had predicted that artificial intelligence would become seriously dangerous by 2019. Many people feared that robots will take over the world and steal their jobs. But in reality, robots will only replace humans for tasks that are tedious, repetitive and dangerous in some cases. For example, welding, when done manually, can have hazardous effects on the health of the human worker. With robotic welding in place, humans no longer need to inhale the fumes from metals which can lead to severe illnesses. Similarly, in the coming years, humanoid robots can replace humans for construction work, coal mining, lumberjacking and other jobs that pose a threat to their health and well-being. This does not, however, mean that humans will be left with no jobs. Their roles will evolve to those requiring special human skills as well as the ability to handle complex robotic mechanisms.
3. Humanoids as Caregivers
While technology has made lives considerably easier for seniors, they still need a hand with their everyday chores once in a while. And, in today’s fast-paced world, their relatives and friends often find it difficult to make such time, either due to their hectic schedules or geographical distances. This is where humanoid robots come in. With demands for professional caregivers on the rise, humanoids have the potential to assist the elderly in the near future. One main advantage humanoids have over humans is that they can provide round-the-clock care to ageing people. The Japanese government has already started funding the development of elder care robots to fill the shortage of specialized workers. In Tokyo’s Shin-tomi nursing home, there are 20 different types of robots to care for the residents.
Humanoid robots can already perform simple household chores, and the time isn’t far when they will have the ability to do more complicated tasks. Several countries are already working on advanced humanoids that can co-exist with humans harmoniously. While it’s too early to predict an exact timeline for this, we expect to see more innovations in the humanoid robot industry in 2019.