Robotics and its various advantages are helping to enhance the world and were on a meteoric rise even before the pandemic. According to a report made by the Federation of Robotics, the global sales of professional-service robots had already jumped 32% to a staggering $11.2 billion from 2018 to 2019. Now, the robotics trend has been accelerated by COVID-19 and social distancing.
Sophia the humanoid robot has been the topic for a lot of discussions after it went viral in 2016. In a world where human contact is actively avoided, Sophia offers some hope. “Social robots like me can take care of the sick and elderly. I can communicate and provide social stimulation, even in difficult situations.”
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.” Based in Hong Kong, Hanson Robotics have plans underway to start rolling out four models, including Sophia, to factories in the first half of 2021.
People living in care homes have also been introduced to the benefits of robotics. Separated from their families, living in isolation can often have a negative impact on the mental health of the elderly. While the comfort of human contact is scarce for many during this difficult time, some care homes are making use of robotics to provide some outside connection and a little distraction to their residents.
Care Homes in Belgium have deployed 60 ZoraBots to entertain elderly people who have little contact with the outside world in isolation. These ZoraBots offer video calling services, streaming movies, and playing music through voice commands to keep the tenants of the care home entertained. “The first time I saw her I was startled, but she is so warm and cozy. A real nice person. I mean a robot!” said a tenant of a care home in Belgium while speaking to the BBC.
Meanwhile, Singapore has become one of the world’s first nations to implement a robotic dog to help enforce the social distancing laws. The robotic dog, made by US based Boston Dynamics, helps to manage public gatherings in parks, reminding the local citizens to keep a safe distance via a loudspeaker.
Article co-authored by Kate Thomson and Abhishek Majumdar