From delivering your groceries to helping you decompress after a long day, the latest advancements in artificial intelligence aim to make everyday life easier for humans. The latest news from the forefront of warehouse and home robotics technology indicate promising developments on the horizon. Just think, soon we could be having our groceries bagged by robots, then sitting down to dinner with a robot companion capable of much more than just passing the salt and pepper.
Ocado: The UK-based grocery delivery service, which logged 1.5 billion USD in 2014 revenue, is developing automated humanoid robots to assist with warehouse operations. “The ultimate aim is for humans to end up relying on collaborative robots because they have become an active participant in their daily tasks,” said Dr Graham Deacon, Robotics Research Team Leader at Ocado Technology. The robots will assist human mechanics in keeping the shipping facility running at optimum speed and efficiency. By evaluating the poses of their human counterparts, these robots will eventually be able to anticipate the needs of their human co-workers. If successful, Ocado’s humanoid robots will be the first to offer intuitive support in a warehouse setting. The company also filed a recent patent for robots capable of selecting and packing grocery orders, which could drastically alter the warehouse needs of large scale shipping companies.
Pepper: Japan based SoftBank Robotics Corp. recently sold 1,000 units of its much buzzed about home robot helper, Pepper, in one minute on its first day of consumer sales. Pepper aims to be a part of the family, offering conversation and even the ability to read and form emotions, thanks to sensors and cloud-based artificial intelligence (the algorithms for which have been closely guarded thus far). With a $1600 price tag, Pepper is a bargain compared to comparable robots, but is a robot companion a worthy investment? While it may be a novelty in its initial stages, SoftBank anticipates rolling Pepper out worldwide next year, with projected applications in office environments. Pepper could also pave the way for automated caregiver and nanny robots, with emotional intelligence being an essential component from taking robots from the warehouse to the home.