Robots that helped folks survive and keep secure over the previous yr are touting their worth on the tech trade’s annual extravaganza amid a pandemic which has given recent momentum to the robotics sector.
The Client Electronics Present (CES) 2021, which is being held on-line this yr as a result of world disaster, consists of robots which have change into “heroes” for a lot of in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
Amongst these taking the digital stage at CES 2021 are robotic companions, concierges, cooks, supply drones, medical assistants and people dealing with the perilous duties of sanitizing workplaces and medical amenities.
Robotic companions noticed surging demand in latest months as pandemic lockdowns intensified issues of isolation, particularly for folks in senior dwelling houses.
Amid a strict virus lockdown in France, the companion robotic Cutii grew to become a star in senior amenities.
“The pandemic fully modified our enterprise mannequin,” stated Antoine Bataille, chief government of Cutii. “We had envisioned Cutii at folks’s houses. However in the present day we’re coping with isolation on a collective degree.”
The startup based mostly within the northern French metropolis Roubaix delivered 30 robots without spending a dime to senior amenities in the course of the lockdowns and used the expertise to enhance the know-how and practice its groups.
“All the pieces labored nicely. Each two weeks we might ship software program updates, which needed to be performed remotely. It is like what Tesla does.”
Cutii, which mixes components of a telepresence robotic with a sensible digital assistant, will likely be a part of the present this yr following its industrial launch in France and a advertising push in the US.
Cutii’s head of US operations, Richard Marshall, stated the disaster has proven folks want greater than a sensible assistant equivalent to Google or Amazon Alexa.
The French-made robotic was designed to permit relations to examine in, and in addition assist folks discover actions equivalent to yoga or tai chi courses, both in particular person or on-line.
“The purpose of Cutii is to attach people to different folks,” Marshall stated. It’s not an Alexa on wheels.”
Wendy Moyle, a professor at Australia’s Griffith College who makes a speciality of analysis on the aged, stated research have proven folks might develop “a robust relationship” to companion robots “very like older folks do with having a pet canine for firm.”
However Moyle stated present know-how for many robots “is simply not subtle sufficient” and that many individuals are disillusioned after some time.
Robots have taken on a brand new function within the office and in medical amenities within the period of social distancing.
Misty Robotics, which produces a robotic platform open to exterior builders, final yr launched its personal temperature screening app for workplaces and medical amenities, whereas additionally working with companions which might make the robotic a companion or digital assistant.
The pandemic has made it simpler for folks to view robots as non-threatening and as pals, stated Misty Robotics chief government Tim Enwall
“The aged haven’t got contact and the aged are definitely very afraid of viruses that may come from contact and there is loneliness and isolation,” Enwall advised AFP.
In an workplace atmosphere, robots like Misty can change into a digital “concierge” which eliminates the necessity for dangerous person-to-person contact, Enwall added.
“The robotic on the entrance door can do that very same primary triage in a manner that is very acquainted to lots of people,” he stated.
“It is pleasant, it is interactive it is satisfying.”
In the meantime a number of exhibitors together with South Korean big LG will likely be exhibiting a brand new line of disinfecting robots which have been in demand in the course of the pandemic.
LG’s autonomous robotic which makes use of ultraviolet mild to disinfect high-touch, high-traffic areas is being launched this yr to US accommodations, colleges, company workplaces, retail and restaurant operators and transportation hubs equivalent to airports and practice stations.
The businesses are betting that demand for improved well being and security will proceed even after the pandemic is contained.
Within the kitchen
Automated kitchen know-how has been gaining curiosity lately, and that has been accelerated by the pandemic, stated Alex Barseghian, CEO of startup RoboEatz which started in Latvia and is now headquartered in Canada.
RoboEatz is launching its synthetic intelligence-powered autonomous robotic kitchen system that prepares, cooks and serves an array of cold and warm meals dishes from soups to salads to meal bowls.
The robotic system, designed for meals providers operations in company workplaces, campuses and hospitals in addition to quick-serve eating places, takes over among the tedious meals prep duties whereas bettering meals security and eliminating an infection dangers from crowded kitchens.
Barseghian stated the concept of robotic meals prep, which might minimize meals waste and labor prices, has gained traction on account of the pandemic
“For lots of eating places, effectivity is essential,” he stated. “Each millimeter within the kitchen is measured. They did not take into consideration social distancing, so automating the kitchen actually solves that downside.”
RoboEatz plans to launch its personal restaurant in Latvia this month because it markets its “turnkey” kitchen in North America.
Even after the pandemic fades, Barseghian stated he expects a continued concentrate on well being and security in kitchens: “I do not suppose it should ever be the identical once more.”