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How are Service Robots Different From Social Robots?


With a common purpose of assisting humans, exactly how are service robots different from social robots? We seek to answer this question in this article where we will differentiate the two types of robots.

What Do Service Robots Do?

How are Service Robots Different From Social Robots?

A service robot is defined as a “robot in personal use or professional use that performs useful tasks for humans or equipment” by the International Organization for Standardization. From that definition alone, service robots are specifically designed to assist humans in completing service-related tasks so people can focus on more valuable work.

Service robots have the ability to complete tasks with partial to no human intervention needed due to their cutting-edge technologies and artificial intelligence. For this reason, service robots are used in varying industries such as retail, healthcare, hospitality, logistics, and domestic. Depending on their function and category, service robots can be categorized for personal or professional use.

Generally, there are 6 types of service robots: delivery and logistics robots, cleaning and disinfection robots, agricultural robots, restaurant and kitchen robots, underwater robots, and social robots. The latter is most often confused with service robots due to their similarities. However, the key difference lies in the ‘social aspect’ — not all service robots are designed for human-robot interaction while all social robots are expected so.

What Do Social Robots Do?

A social robot has an artificial intelligence system that will allow it to interact with humans and other robots. With such design and function, social robots can take over basic customer service tasks such as answering inquiries, giving directions, and greeting humans. For personal and home use, social robots are designed to have unique personalities and fun quirks to keep humans entertained and engaged.

Social robots are able to provide companionship, especially to those who may be socially isolated or lonely. They can also encourage mental stimulation, which is helpful for those who have cognitive impairments or are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases.

Social robots may also have autonomous systems that will allow them to make decisions and interact with humans based on their cognitive computing models but there are also models that are remotely controlled. In any case, social robots must have the ability to engage in human-robot interaction and exhibit social skills.

Final Note

How are Service Robots Different From Social Robots?

Although both service robots and social robots are designed to assist humans, the main difference lies in their cognitive abilities. Even if a social robot is a type of service robot, its main purpose and design is to engage in human-robot interaction while a service robot can be limited to simply accomplishing service-related tasks.

Sota Takahashi

Sota Takahashi is a Japanese-born electrical engineer. At the age of 18, he moved to Seattle and completed his Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Washington, Seattle. Being a fan of all things tech, he channels his geeky side through this website, and with his wife Linda, shares knowledge about robot pets and how they can be lifelong and advantageous companions for both children and the elderly.

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