Robots have been experimented and have been commercialized decades back however, seized to be the centre of attraction. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the innovation in this industry has been significant to an extent of creating human mimicking robots. “Sophia” is one such humanoid robot that was unveiled in 2016. Social robots are robots that can communicate and interact with humans and are programmed to follow set of social behaviors. With boost in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence social robots were developed during early 1990s. However, the importance of social robots is much felt during the pandemic.
Social robots have multiple capabilities for instance it serves as a best assistant while a technician handles a particular device. It has the ability to identify emergency situation and can call for help. It can monitor and handle various tasks such as providing remainders, predictive warning, interaction with family members, take a note of vital signs and so on. It can serve as a caregiver or a professional and also interact effectively with children. The scope of social robots is therefore not limited to a particular task. Not all social robots are humanoids.
The makers of Sophia – Hanson Robotics (Hong Kong) have declared that they are rolling out four such models in the coming six months. The company has keen focus on Social Robots. Sophia as a Social robot is capable of taking care of the sick and elderly and enable communication. Sophia can also provide therapy. This innovation becomes more meaningful amid the pandemic. The robotics market is expected to evidence significant opportunities, never like before. Mr. David Hanson, founder and chief executive of Hanson Robotics said “The world of Covid-19 is going to need more and more automation to keep people safe.”
While the pandemic has forced people to be in isolation, there is clearly a need for a social companion. The company has clearly identified opportunity especially at this moment where human like robots are need of the hour. Grace is one such social robot that is being developed by Hanson Robotics especially for the healthcare sector. However, the company is not just limiting its innovation to healthcare but also eyeing at retail and airline industries as well. Therefore, the company is planning to sell thousands of robots in this year.
The social robots concept is still at a very nascent stage however, this pandemic is expected to quicken the process and time of adoption. Some of the robots that were commercialized during the Pandemic are Pepper Robot from SoftBank Robotics. This robot detects people who weren’t wearing their mask. CloudMinds, a China based robotics company enabled a robot-run field hospital in Wuhan during the pandemic. One another example is ASIMO by Honda and Kaspar, designed by University of Hertfordshire enable autistic children to learn through interactive mode of communication.