Companies of all sizes have started contemplating how to reduce human interaction and introduce robotic technology in their daily business activities. Yes, companies had already started using RPA or robotic process automation for increasing the efficiency of business operations and automating them. This, however, is done using software robots.
After the pandemic, the focus for companies was to find out how to use physical robots for conducting activities such as delivery, maintenance and cleaning. These technologies already existed, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies were in dire need of adopting them to carry out activities that human workers were in charge of. For example, many companies have started investing in the possibility of robots or drones taking care of deliveries or dispensing products.
According to BBC, robots are being used in South Korea for dispensing hand sanitisers or sanitising guests. In another report by CNBC, we find out that Walmart has also been using robots for cleaning and sorting activities such as scrubbing floors and organising products on shelves. As per Wall Street Journal, Walmart has been planning to incorporate cleaning robots in 1500 stores across the United State. Around 300 of these stores will even use these custodial robots to identify empty shelves. Artificial intelligence (AI) is working hand-in-hand with these bots and helping them become more efficient and effective. BrainOS is the AI technology powering these bots.
According to the World Economic Forum, Chinese e-commerce companies have extensively started adopting robot-driven pickup and delivery. This has proven to be a much better alternative to human deliveries due to it being safer. Online shopping and e-commerce already took off before the pandemic, but the dire situation the world is in right now has pushed us to consider robotic alternatives in every sphere of life. A great example is Meituan Dianping, a delivery service that uses autonomous vehicles for sending groceries to customers residing in the Shunyi district of Beijing.
Robot workers are also in high demand as manufacturing giants and large production houses cannot keep functioning with the low number of human workers they have. There is a huge lack of skilled manpower with employees leaving their jobs to keep themselves and their families safe.
Robotics in different sectors post pandemic
- Hospitality: Salad-making robots such as Chowbotics are replacing dining-hall employees and other robots are being used by restaurants and cafes as well. Hotels have started using robot butlers and robot helpers to serve their guests too. For example, Savioke has built a robotic butler that provides services such as offering hotel guests toothbrushes and towels.
- Airport and Public Area Operations: According to BBC and many other reports, a lot of public/government areas or buildings have incorporated robots for cleaning and organising duties. Airports have also started using robots for recording the temperatures of passengers.
- Security: Malls and stadiums have been using security-guard robots for patrolling their properties. This will soon be seen in public areas and government properties as well.
- Households: Households have also started using more robotic technology such as robotic vacuum cleaners, robotic nannies and autonomous dog feeders/walkers after the pandemic. This is especially true for households that heavily rely on maids, servants and services for kids or dogs. According to Economic Times, 79% of Indian parents are open to the idea of having a robotic nanny.
Also Read: What Is A Social Robot?