Service robots: Complementary to humans or an enhancement?

As far back as we can remember in books, TV and radio, robots were seen as the topic of science-fiction fascination, with the vivid imagination of what the world would look like in 2020. Remember watching Back to the Future II in 1989, where Marty (Michael J.Fox) travels to 2015 and an epic hoverboard chase ensues? We all thought hovering was the most insane idea for any technology or human, but now we see it available in planes, even men can fly with a backpack. We are closer to the imagination than ever before.

The Covid-19 global pandemic has unexpectedly compressed our research and development time frame, heightened our focus, senses and perception, to live and breathe creatively to advance deep learning. Robot integration is now in a pivotal point of our lives, not only in the B2B space but also B2C. Every new adventure brings about new emotions, processes, problem-solving, moral beliefs, ethics and human rights questions. Where does the line begin and end?

Let’s take a look at the hot topic of whether robots will be complementary to humans or a substitution.

Robots are faster, safer, precise and cost-efficient

Depending on the job, for the most part, robots are all of the above. The rate and flow of work never stop, unless there is a mechanical fault or repair needed. Humans need downtime to rest and restore and in moments of tiredness may make mistakes. Some jobs may be ridiculously repetitive, and psychologically this can affect one’s well-being in the long run. There is a tremendous reliability issue of humans vs. robots, where the cost of a job can vary to the global situation, economy, supply and demand.

Robots like the O-R3 can provide round-the-clock security surveillance

Another situation is deploying robots in dangerous or remote environments, where it would not be humanly possible to have a workforce in action, that could ultimately endanger health or life. In these situations, robot substitution would be a necessity. The fear of robots swings more towards economic inequality, like wages and job availability but this is affected recently by globalisation, which is picking up pace. As some jobs become non-existent from the use of robots, this may mean higher productivity output but open up new opportunities and ideas in the ever-changing landscape of job scopes, a term described as ‘creative destruction‘.

Task-centered or human-centered economy

Like in examples shown above in task-centered economies, where humans would have little or no value apart from the task they have been given, robots liberate the human race from these specific input and output task loads.

Though deep learning is becoming part of our lives and is set to have a level of sophistication, there are aspects of human creativity that cannot be replicated. In a human-centered economy, humans need time to collaborate with one another for unrestricted, creative ventures. The Covid-19 situation has proven to us, that our uniqueness as humans is the reason why we can find solutions to unique problems, that aren’t bound by a restated hypothesis or Algorithm-assisted decision.

Can robots replace human interaction?

Autonomous robots in health and social care, whether it be performing highly specialised surgery, rehabilitation or low levels of autonomy, still relies on humans training machines/ robots and needs the presence of a qualified human.

In this instance, robots complement humans for the time issue of logistics through autonomous transport of materials and supplies to support staff, be it documents, medical supplies etc. In surgery or rehabilitation, unless the robot has high levels of autonomy and coordination, then a human would likely be safer for patient safety. We cannot replace the human connection to emotions and touch, but robots can usefully assist with video conferencing, a level of companionship, entertainment, education and motivation. This engagement can be achieved through video, verbal and gesture-based interaction. Though people may fear robots, they can reduce anxiety. For example, robots do not have gender, which can work to a patient’s preference. With any situation, a robot can relieve the feelings of isolation.

Robots can give the elderly a form of independence at home, supporting their daily lives, with the use of technology and at the same time safety with their connection over the internet, personalisation, and sustainability in remote areas.

There will always be the argument of the man-machine dynamic, and as the world progresses, in the foreseeable future it is definite that robots will substitute humans in some instances, but it’s our belief that robots will lean towards being more of a complementary service like OTSAW’s Robots as a service (Raas).

OTSAW’s robots, the TransCarO-R3O-RX and Camello, complement humans with the use of security, health, disinfection and logistics solution-based services. Simply speaking they improve environments, business processes, and everyday lives.

The future of deep learning and improvement in robots is currently unchartered. Who knows maybe one day it will eliminate poverty, reduce disease and provide equal education opportunities?

A technology innovator that build groundbreaking solutions to improve environments, business processes, and everyday lives.


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