Future of robotics in the world of business

By Kanwal Qaiser

A robot is a machine that is programmed by a computer to carry out different tasks which can be complex or simple in nature. Over the years there has been a positive trend in robotics technology due to its benefits, either for surgeries or automated assembling of cars. This outward trend has therefore encouraged various big corporations to consider and implement this technology in their operations.

In order to understand and predict the future of robotics, we must first review, albeit briefly, the status quo. A reductionist approach to simplify the intricacies involved in robotics must be used; whereby robotics may be composed of the mechanical and programming components. The mechanical revolution in robotics has already occurred to a great degree.

The next challenge in the field is developing suitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities in robots to improve and support human existence. While numerous trends have shown potential, the scope of this paper will highlight the promise of robotics in the sphere of business and industry. 

The lure of higher productivity and growth has led to more and more companies investing in robotics and automation related ventures. The International Federation of Robotics estimates that companies will employ roughly 2.5 million industrial robots by the end of the decade. While certain experts view this with a great deal of skepticism by predicting nearly 800 million jobs lost to automation by 2030, the reality is a little more complex. In most cases, robots will replace tedious manual labor, as it has done so in the past.

Robots are simply more efficient at monotonous and demanding tasks than humans as they can perform repetitive operations day after day with increased precision. A study by McKinsey Institute found that instead of replacing people, it is far more likely for robots to be working in conjunction with humans to increase productivity and efficiency. A finishing company in California saw its productivity increased by a factor of four after employing their first robot painter, without reducing their human workforce.

Similar studies by the Centre of Economic Performance have shown that robotics and automation has brought back 250,000 jobs back to the United States. These studies have found that in the foreseeable future, robots are going to create new avenues and jobs for people managing and operating them.

This is akin to the industrial revolution where craftsmanship was not finished by machines but instead created growth, prosperity and improved standards of living. It is probable that most industries, especially those carrying out delicate tasks, or dealing with social interaction, are not going to be accepting of robotics in the first place.

Global giants like Google and Amazon have started investing vigorously in areas pertaining to AI and robotics. But most developments are designed to work in a collaborative way with humans. These changes are extremely slow and will give enough time for societies to adapt to the employment trends caused by automation. 

Controlled Automated Vehicles or self-driving cars are close to becoming a reality. Major car manufacturers like Tesla, Toyota and Audi have already achieved initial grades in automation and continue to invest heavily to reach a higher level of automation in cars.

German automobile industry is said to invest over 60 billion dollars in electric and driverless vehicles over the next three years. One of the reasons behind the importance of these is extreme congestion and environmental degradation in urban centers.

CAVs are on route to become the future of public and private transport as countries look to reduce carbon emissions and make their transport network more efficient. These cars will be able to connect and respond to each other as well as the road network, leading to a smoother flow of traffic.

A major concern for manufacturers is to create trust between the automated vehicles and the consumers as people are pessimistic about the safety of these cars. Singapore and Hong Kong will have introduced a bus network that is electric and automated as they hope to reduce the number of cars on their tightly packed roads. 

The applications of machine learning and AI are endless as robots become more self-aware and perceptive. These robots have made their way into our homes in the form of cloud kitchens, which cook and clean independently. Pharmabiotics show similar promise in hospitals and surgeries, allowing the human staff to lessen their own burden. The future of robotics will alter our reality in almost every sphere.

The opinions in this article are of the writer and do not represent the views of The Weekly Pakistan.

The writer a freelance contributor and can be reached at ansa.kanwal05@gmail.com

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