Robots as a service (Raas)
Robots as a service (RaaS) are making their way into our everyday lives and workplaces with ease. You may have seen robots acting as security guards patrolling the entrances and exits of hospitals. In fact, robots are being used as security guards in many industries including manufacturing grounds, casinos, parking lots, banks, corporate campuses, airports, and even gas stations.
RaaS covers a lot of ground. Robots are being used in warehouses to make processes faster and more efficient all while eliminating repetitive jobs that humans undertake. Amazon Robotics currently has more than 100,000 robots in its fulfillment centers, decreasing the time to retrieve items from the shelf to the box by half compared to manual retrieval.
Fabric, an Israeli company, is making headway with robots in grocery micro fulfillment centers. With the use of RaaS, they are able to receive grocery orders, fulfill them, and send them off in under 15 minutes!
Cobots are collaborative robots that work together with humans or other machines. As 5G makes its way onto the scene, robots are able to process spatial data at fast enough speeds to adapt to environmental changes. This will allow robots to detect humans and surrounding objects in order to perform tasks safely and proficiently. Cobots are mostly used in scenarios where the human performs part of the task and the cobot will finish it by assisting in ways that don’t require human senses.
Ford Motors is using cobots in the manufacturing of their automotive parts.
Autonomous robots teams are currently being used to inspect buildings, dams, and bridges, and properties where it might be hard for humans to get to. These swarm robots can also help in situations that are dangerous for humans like inspecting areas that have been infected or have been contaminated by dangerous chemical spills.
In 2018 it was announced that Walmart had bought a patent for robot bees, an effort to help with the decline of the bee population and to increase pollination across the US.
Swarm robots can most easily be identified by their use in the military. Swarm robot drones have been summoned to patrol borders. The U.S. Army is developing a Cluster UAS Smart Munition for Missile Deployment that would allow a swarm of small drones to fan out and destroy vehicles with “explosively formed penetrators,” or EFPs.
Amazon joined UPS and Google as companies certified to make autonomous deliveries. Google’s Wing, partnering with Walgreens and FedEx, began its tests last year. UPS now flies medical supplies between buildings on a Raleigh, N.C. hospital campus.
Amazon has also filed patents for interesting drone-fleet logistics, including a gigantic beehive-like structure, where drones would dock and receive packages, and a laundry chute system attached to houses where packages would drop safely and tumble down to customers.
Soft robotics is created to mimic living organisms. Researchers have developed soft robots that can be guided by magnets and used in the medical field. The hope is that someday they can take images within the body, clear arterial blockages, deliver targeted drugs to specific body parts, or even extract tissue samples. Cornell University developed a robot capable of “sweating” thus able to regulate its internal temperature. These new developments pose many questions. What environments will we be able to enter and explore via soft robots that are able to adapt and interact like living organisms? What kinds of artificial human-like organisms or even toys such as baby dolls will be created?
As we speak, there are many new robots being created and developed. With the AI technology available and the 5G network entering the environment, don’t be surprised if 5 years from now your coworkers are robots, and your kitchen is outfitted with robots helping you prepare dinner! With so many new possibilities being researched, Roomba and Alexa are sure to have some friends in your home at some point.