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One of the major objectives and applications of service robots is to assist humans most efficiently and effectively as possible. Service robots are developed by engineers and manufacturers using advanced service robotics technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics solutions that allow them to operate automatically and have varying capabilities based on algorithms and machine learning.
Thanks to their high level and complex systems, the functions, capabilities, and level of productivity of service robots are unparalleled as they typically can be deployed in various application areas to assist workers with their tasks. With that said, we will be further discussing the applications of service robots and listing down some examples.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) engaged in a joint effort in 1995 to work out the first service robot definition and classification scheme. With the efforts of the UNECE and the International Federation of Robotics, an International Standard came about, which defines a service robot as a robot that performs useful tasks for humans or equipment excluding industrial automation applications.
With that being said, service robotics can be classified into two different types based on how they are used and who uses them.
Personal service robots are types of service robots that are used for non-commercial tasks but are useful tasks nonetheless. A personal service robot is used by laypersons and is often used to assist in a domestic setting. Examples of personal service robots are domestic servant robots, automated wheelchairs, robot pets, and personal mobility assist robots. Robot vacuums also fall into this category provided that they are used as cleaning and disinfection robots at home or private residences.
Professional service robots are types of service robots that are for commercial use. A professional service robot often performs repetitive tasks and dangerous tasks that may be too risky for humans and workers to perform themselves. Unless they are autonomous mobile robots, professional service robots are often operated by professionally trained operators and need a degree of human intervention — even those that are semi-autonomous.
Professional service robots are generally used in companies, offices, and public places and commonly assigned tasks are to clean public places, act as delivery robots, and logistics robots, help with data collection, and to an extent service management.
It’s important to note that professional service robots are not to be confused with industrial robots. The former have a more wide-range form, advanced robotics systems, cutting-edge technology, and capabilities that allow them to do more machine learning tasks outside of an automated factory environment.
With service robotics technology, service robots can assist human employees and workers with useful tasks so human beings can focus on more value-adding tasks to boost the overall productivity of businesses and companies. Regardless of where or what market a service robot is deployed in, it is meant to help make lives easier, enhance overall customer experience, and increase efficiency in a business.
In that sense, it comes as no surprise that the service robotics market is expected to increase to 103.3B by 2026 because of the efficiency and high level of productivity that can provide, which makes businesses and companies want to “hire” them.
In a broad sense, there are 5 things service robots can do but their cutting-edge robotics technology and capabilities allow them to carry out a wide range of industry applications. Specifically, a service robot can have 8 industry applications depending on the type of technology it has installed and the business it is meant to work in.
Most of the time, a service robot in the retail industry is meant to assist customers. Their assistance and efficiency are aimed to simplify and enhance the overall experience of a customer. Customers can opt to interact with a service robot instead of a human employee if they want direct answers to their inquiries.
On the side of management and employees, a service robot can also improve in-store operations and marketing. A service robot often has the technology, functions, and capabilities to provide automated data collection from retail customers.
This near real-time information and insights can be useful to store associates in improving in-store operations and customer satisfaction. At the same time, the development of relevant marketing and promotions executions can be done to improve a retail store’s sales and foot traffic thanks to the conducted research on these service robots.
A service robot can also do real-time inventory and let store managers know when a certain stock is running low or when new orders need to be done. Service robots can also do restocking themselves, which alleviates humans from these tasks that otherwise can be taxing and lead to burnout in the long run.
The functions of robotics and service robots in the agricultural industry are diverse. Using advanced robotics technology and vision, a service robot can help with the identification of crops and their condition for farmers and agriculturists. This helps farmers know the corresponding application of fertilizers or sprays required by their crops, at the same time know when they are ready for harvesting.
A service robot can also help with the mobile manipulation of harvesting, handling, and planting of crops through their collaborative arms technology and functions. This adds an extra set of hands for farmers to help make the process of collecting and planting crops easier.
With their technology, a service robot can also help in the prevention of food waste and spills of chemicals in waterways. This helps in preserving the safety of a farmer’s environment and our food.
Service robots also contribute to the research and development of agriculture as these robots can collect data from their assigned agricultural environment through their technology and integrated sensor systems. Such data are valuable in the study and research on how to create a sustainable industry and business that can continue to provide and feed the market.
Domestic service robots help in household productivity. They assist humans and lay people with their daily tasks such as cleaning, dishwashing, sweeping, vacuuming, and other range and forms of domestic applications. Socially isolated humans and those with physical limitations can benefit greatly from domestic service robots as they can assist them with little no to human intervention needed.
There are domestic service robots that can provide safety features to help keep a human’s space secure. Such features can explain why the service robot market for domestic applications continues to grow worldwide.
Many events and exhibitions use service robots because of their wide range of functions and features. Service robots can act as bartenders, delivery robots, booth attendants, and entertainment at an event.
A service robot used in events and conventions can also help out a business stand as attendees can flock to their booth. The service robot can also assist attendants in keeping track of foot traffic and use the data collected for future research in the development of next year’s event.
Cleaning service robots can help in disinfecting public scapes such as hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and more. A business can use service robots in cleaning hazardous waste, which proves to be useful, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only did these cleaning service robots provide the market peace of mind with the cleanliness of an area but they also alleviated the worries of human employees who otherwise would have done the cleaning themselves.
The use of service robots in the delivery and logistics industry is a common practice. Common types and ways a business would use service robots for such tasks are for movement-based jobs and last-mile delivery services. With the development of self-automated technology in service robots, plenty of businesses are employing robots in delivering goods to the market.
Logistics robots on the other hand help focus more on helping with internal processes such as carrying heavy objects, materials, stocking, and transporting items. This helps in the logistics workflow of things that alleviate human employees with taxing and ‘mundane’ tasks.
Professional service robots in the defense and military industry assist and enhance a soldier’s existing tasks with the main objective to keep them out of harm’s way. Military service robots allow soldiers and troops to perform their missions at ground level while they charter territories that may be too risky for them to be deployed in.
Military service robots can also provide added security to troops and help give them a tactical advantage.
The service robotics market in the healthcare industry and sector is expected to continuously grow by 2030. Such growth is no surprise a service robot can assist healthcare workers, medical professionals, patients, and even visitors in many ways.
Safety is the main goal of medical robots. These medical robots can provide safe and value-adding services to professionals as they assist in surgeries and procedures. To medical workers, a service robot can relieve physical demands by way of delivering items, keeping stock and inventory, and helping with patient care.
For patients, a service robot can provide companionship and perform a series of checkups that can be used in research and keeping track of a patient’s development and recovery. For visitors and everyone else, disinfection robots can help with cleaning.
The continuous development of service robots allows them to be used in varying sectors and industries. Certain service robots maximized their cutting-edge technology to their advantage which allowed them to be a cut above other robots in the market.
In this section, we will be citing various types of service robots that make them popular examples and standards in the industry.
While there are plenty of cleaning and disinfecting service robots, the LightStrike service robot of Xenex is one of the most popular in the market. Plenty of hospitals have been using the LightStrike cleaning and disinfection robots to clean and sanitize patient rooms.
With their UV light system, the LightStrike service robots can kill any virus and bacteria within its wavelength. Once done, this service robot will automatically shut down and move to the next room to clean and disinfect again. Such capability allows the market to be at peace that the area is clean and sanitized.
Delivery service robots are mostly used in the food service industry. The Kiwibot is an example of a popular service robot that does food deliveries. The Kiwibots make their rounds as a last-mile delivery service that can run up to 10 hours to a distance of 12.4 miles.
While making deliveries to the market, the Kiwibots also have a Mobility Data Specifications framework so they can collect data to be used in research and development. Aside from providing research to business owners, the Kiwibots also provide information that will help in the improvement and development of street upgrades to make cities more accessible.
Logistics robots are used to transfer products in warehouses. These robots can transport high-volume products and packages while lowering labor costs and providing a safe environment for employees. Unlike humans, these robots can keep carrying items, help keep stock, check inventory, and more 24/7. The development of such a service robot is important in preventing burnout from human employees and avoiding accidents from occurring.
A popular service robot in logistics is Digit by Agility Robotics. Digit is a bipedal robot that helps run tasks in warehouses. It’s a plug-and-play robot that can operate on its own after being programmed by an official representative. This robot can help alleviate warehouse employees from routine tasks and jobs as it is designed to carry out straightforward and structured tasks.
The Digit robot is currently getting a ‘makeover’ in preparation for its first job in 2024. It is said that Digit will look more ‘human’ as it gets arms, legs, a torso, and a head to make it more acceptable in the human market for human-robot interaction.
With impeccable machine vision, advanced technology, and precision, robots in the medical service are common. Plenty of hospitals, clinics, and medical institutions have been using robots long before as they can assist humans in plenty of ways that can benefit patients and the market.
While there are plenty of robots being used in this sector, one popular robot is Grace the Robot Nurse of Hanson Robotics. This robot nurse can assist doctors, nurses, and medical professionals. Grace the Robot Nurse is programmed to provide effective and functional care for patients by checking temperature and pulses and giving treatment deliveries.
Grace also sets itself apart from other medical robots as it can display empathy and emotions. This robot can detect human expressions, react to a patient’s emotions, and provide a certain level of ‘warmth’. This makes Grace a preferred robot to have during the COVID-19 pandemic as most patients inflicted with the virus had to be socially isolated and craved interaction.
Grace also helps the market embrace robots in the medical sector as this lifesize and lifelike robot can socialize with humans. For a robot, Grace can impressively help with talk therapy and encourage socialization. Like many other robots, Grace contributes to the development of the market accepting robots in the work and medical fields.
Military and defense robots help plenty of soldiers and troops. Popular military service robots are not lifelike and humanlike. Instead, robot dogs are the choice of robots by the military. Perhaps the most popular military robot dog (and robot dogs in general) is Spot by Boston Dynamics.
These robots are not used as weapons but are there to help in explosive ordinance disposal, assessing areas, and providing assistance that troops may need. These robots can help carry out missions that may be too dangerous for soldiers and troops to carry out. These military robots can also provide valuable information that can be used to improve defense strategies and processes.
The rapid changes and development in industrial services, consumer trends, and demands, and issues on labor shortages, trade concerns, and supply chain interruptions, make the wide-range capabilities and applications of service robots advantageous to deploy for personal, professional, and industrial use.
With the continuous progress and development of service robots in terms of artificial intelligence, technical specifications, machine vision, machine learning, and complex capabilities, the use of robots in a wide range of applications and human-assisting tasks can be expected to grow in the future.
Rather than hindering this development in fear of service robots replacing human beings and workers, one can look at it as the future of humans and robots working together for the better development of our work-flow environment and systems.
There are plenty of ways robots can be helpful to humans. Robots have higher flexibility in working provided that they are programmable. Robots can provide accurate and real-time research and data that be used to improve services and processes. Robots can also help minimize the load and work pressure of many employees. These robots can then help managers and owners decrease the rate of turnovers as burnout from workers can decrease as robots alleviate certain tasks from them.
Robots can increase productivity in the workplace due to their high efficiency and accuracy in performing tasks. If robots and humans can work side-by-side in the most productive manner, a business can surely grow and use this to their advantage. Robots also can work 24/7 so a business can continue running no matter what.
Although the initial cost of purchasing or renting robots can be pricey, the benefits, in the long run, can be worth it as they can cut down on costs in terms of labor. Robots can do multiple jobs that otherwise would have cost an employer to hire two or more employees.