Robots Are Set to Overhaul Service Industries

Comments Off on Robots Are Set to Overhaul Service Industries
Robots Are Set to Overhaul Service Industries

In more than 100 hospitals across the nation, robots are beginning to carry out low-level tasks, such as delivering meals and clean linen. 

Aethon is a company in Pittsburgh that makes the Tug, which can be loaded and then programmed with a destination.  Once started, the vehicle will navigate crowded hospital corridors, avoiding people and obstacles, until it reaches its destination.  According to The Christian Science Monitor,1 Aethon is aiming its development efforts at industries that experience staff shortages.  The robot relieves overworked nurses and technicians, who are then free to do the work they're trained to do.

We explained in the January 2008 edition of Trends, that, as immigration controls tighten, other companies are aiming their efforts at agricultural labor, attempting to come up with robots that can pick and pack fruit and vegetables.

And overseas, at a mall in Osaka, Japan, shoppers who want directions can get them from a MapQuest robot known as Robovie.

Are robots taking over the world?  The answer is:  Yes, but in a good way.

According to a report from the Associated Press,2 Japan is launching a crash effort to create robots that can supplement its dwindling workforce as the

population ages.  One of the problems involved in bringing robots into the mainstream of daily life is that they must be able to interact with humans — an astonishingly complex task that people handle naturally.  But significantly, people aren't born with this ability fully developed.  They are born with a few rudiments and must learn all the complex social interactions that we take for granted. 

To this end, researchers and engineers at Meiji University in Japan are designing a robot that can detect human emotions by way of facial expressions and respond to them. 

But even before the subtleties of human recognition are worked out, many other types of robots are already working in Japan, where they make sushi and plant rice fields and tend the paddies.  Robots are so much a way of life in Japanese factories that they are welcomed on their first day of work with Shinto religious ceremonies.

In addition, they are acting as receptionists, cleaning offices, serving tea, and tending to the elderly.  Pet robots, such as the furry Paro, offer comfort and companionship to the lonely. 

With more than a fifth of the population already over 65, developing

robots has become a national obsession.  As a result, the government has devoted $42 million to developing the humanoid robot known as Kansei at Meiji University and will put another $10 million a year into it between now and 2010, when the industry is expected to produce revenues of $26 billion...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund