Robots have come a long way since the first programmable robot was developed in the mid-1950s. Robotic innovations are already in use in manufacturing and other industries, and robots could soon become common household objects. Here are some of the most remarkable innovations of the past few years.
The Sophia humanoid robot is a creation from Hanson Robotics. This robot stands out because of its human-like features.
The purpose of Hanson Robotics was to create a robot that could mimic human emotions and behaviors so that the robot would be likable.
Sophia has a sense of humor. She can maintain eye contact, and understand speech when interacting with humans. She has made several TV appearances and even has social media accounts.
The robot’s reactions and responses are dictated by a complex AI. Hanson Robotics is currently focusing on developing this AI and on gathering more data via interactions with humans so that the AI behind Sophia can create reactions and emotions that are as humanlike as possible.
The iRobot Scooba is an example of the kind of devices we could find in every home in the near future. It’s a small robot that sweeps, pre-soaks and scrubs hard floors.
The Scooba uses sensors to detect obstacles and navigate in its environment. The robot beeps to let you know when it needs more water.
It is somewhat similar to other cleaning robots like the Roomba. The interesting thing about these cleaning robots is the way people react to them.
These robotic innovations are originally designed to keep homes clean, but their owners end up getting attached to them. Many owners name their cleaning robot, and some people have even made a few changes to the layout of their home so that their Roomba could access more areas.
In fact, people are more likely to get their Roomba fixed rather than replacing it with a newer model once they get attached to it.
Volvo Driverless Car
Robotic innovations could make cars safer in the future. Volvo is currently developing vehicles with an AI that partially replaces human drivers.
Other companies are working on creating self-driving cars, such as Google with its Waymo project. The purpose of self-driving cars is to save on gas since driving is smoother and requires less braking and accelerating.
Self-driving cars could also improve road safety. Sensors are more efficient than humans when it comes to detecting obstacles, and self-driving cars would be more predictable on the road.
The Volvo XC90 is one of the first vehicles with driverless features. This car will automatically brake if an object is detected at an intersection. Uber is planning on purchasing 24,000 of these vehicles to start building a fleet.
Volvo is not the only automaker working on driverless features. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class can keep track of where unoccupied areas are in other lanes, change lanes without the driver doing anything, and make sure that a safe distance is kept from other vehicles.
The 2018 BMW 5 Series probably has the most interesting driverless features. This vehicle can drive itself during a stop and go traffic situation and can also park itself.
A robobee is a tiny robot with a design inspired by flying insects. Robobees can typically fly and attach themselves to a wall or another surface. Some of these robots fly by flapping their wings, just like a bee or a fly would.
A new generation of robobees is currently being developed at Harvard. These small robots are worth mentioning because they can fly, dive into the water and get back in the air.
Robots are typically designed to navigate a specific type of environment and creating a robot versatile enough to navigate different environments is a challenge.
The miniature robot developed at Harvard is equipped with floating devices to land on water, and an internal combustion system can get the robot back in the air. The small size of the robot is also an advantage when it comes to avoiding obstacles and navigating complex environments.
This is a lightweight robot that could be used in search-and-rescue missions as well as in environmental monitoring projects.
There are other robotic innovations inspired by insects. Researchers from UC Berkeley have recently developed a small robot that moves like a cockroach. This robot can perform fast horizontal and vertical maneuvers thanks to its unique design.
The Asus Zenbo looks like something out of a science-fiction movie. This robot is designed to be a companion for your family.
This robotic innovation allows you to make calls, take pictures, browse the Internet, shop online, and answer your questions just like a smart speaker would.
It also features a wide range of educational programs and games for children. It can tell your child a story, play with them, and play music.
The Asus Zenbo will learn your preferences and your habits. The robot can also express some emotions. It can move and follow you and alert emergency contacts if needed.
This is an interesting robot since it is designed to be a companion and to trigger an emotional response in humans. While a project like Sophia aims to create a human-like robot to achieve these purposes, the Asus Zenbo looks like a cartoon character.
The IRB 1200 is an industrial robot from ABB Ltd. Industrial robots have been around for a while and are now used to perform a wide range of tasks in factories.
This ABB Ltd. robot is an interesting innovation because it is designed to work alongside humans. This robot is smaller than a typical industrial robot, and its movements and tasks are limited so that operators can work next to the ABB Ltd. Robot.
The SafeMove2 technology is what restricts the robot’s movements and tasks when a human is present. It can handle materials and be used to prepare food.
Saul is an example of robots being used in healthcare. This robot can kill viruses by diffusing photon light. It kills viruses in a matter of minutes while other techniques would take hours.
Xenex, the company behind Saul, originally designed the robot to eliminate C.diff infections in hospitals. The robot has been used to eliminate Ebola viruses as well.
So far, a few Air Force and army hospitals have purchased the robot and use it.
Pepper is another companion robot. This small humanoid robot is becoming popular in Japan thanks to different businesses using it to greet and inform customers. People will soon be able to purchase Pepper and use it at home.
Pepper stands out thanks to its ability to identify human emotions. The robot can express different emotions thanks to its eyes and built-in tablet and will adjust its behavior and reactions in function of the emotions it detected when interacting with you.
SoftBank Mobile stores are currently using this robot to welcome customers. People can ask Pepper questions about products, and interact with the robot while they wait for a salesperson to assist them.
Ubtech is a Chinese company that is currently developing a biped robot. This is an interesting innovation since most companies opt for a different design.
Biped robots are likely to fall or encounter difficulties when navigating complex environments. Walker will officially in 2019, but early demos have shown the biped robot navigating stairs.
This robot is also designed to avoid obstacles if it were to fall. It is interesting to note that the purpose of Ubtech is to create a robot that would be affordable enough for people to use it as a butler.
Walker could become a significant innovation in the field of robotics if Ubtech manages to improve how it navigates a complex environment and fulfill its promise of offering an affordable butler robot. This could be a major step towards people having a robot to help them perform tasks around the home.
In 2015, Google filed a patent for a technology that would let the company create a personality for a robot. The robot’s personality could be downloaded from the cloud and customized as needed.
It is unclear if Google is currently working on developing robots with personalities, but this patent could be significant as manufacturers work on creating companion robots.
The patent explains that a robot could be designed to have the same personality as a loved one, or as a celebrity. These robots would also act differently in function of the person they are interacting with. A family robot could have a slightly different personality in function of the family member it is interacting with.
This patent could be the key to creating companion robot that truly becomes a member of the family.
These are a few of the significant robotic innovations we have seen in the past few years. It is interesting to see these robots becoming more performing as their AI learn new things and to see companies develop new concepts and designs to create robots that are more humanlike.