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With the rapid advancement and new learnings in the world of service robotics, the rise of service robots in various industries and applications is quickly becoming a norm. We see service robots almost everywhere: retail industry, hospitality industry, security industry, medical field, and more.
As service robots prove to be more than capable of completing various tasks that we human beings need help with, it pays to fully understand what these intelligent robots are, what intellectual tasks they can execute, and how humans can benefit from them.
The International Organization for Standardization defines ‘service robots’ as “robots in personal use or professional use that performs useful tasks for humans or equipment”. According to ISO 8373, service robots also require a “degree of autonomy”, to help them perform intended tasks based on current state and sensing, without human intervention as much as possible.
Simply put, service robots are specifically designed to assist human workers (or us humans in general), in completing service-related tasks so we can focus on more valuable work that requires our active participation.
The ISO mentioned that a service robot is designed either for personal or professional use. With that, we can categorize these robots into such groups.
A personal service robot is designed to accomplish non-commercial tasks for the common layperson. For this reason, this type of robot is often “employed” for the personal and private use of the owner as the service robot would usually do household chores or provide assistance and companionship for those who live independently, especially the elderly. Given how and where they are commonly used, personal and private use service robots are often referred to as domestic service robots or domestic robots.
A professional service robot is designed to accomplish repetitive tasks within a professional setting to help work efficiency amongst humans so they may perform cognitive work that requires active awareness participation from their end instead.
Since professional service robots are used in office or public settings, these robots often have either partial autonomy or fully autonomous systems that are backed with various systems and technologies, motion control and motors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and other capabilities that will help them operate with little to no active human robot intervention as possible. However, a partially autonomous service robot will require some form of human intervention now and then.
Personal service robots take shape in many forms. There are service robots that are designed to be an “aging companion” for the elderly as they help keep older adults active, independent, and engaged. While they also fall under the field of medical robots, a lot of them are used for private home care.
Generally, service robots used personally aim to help and boost household productivity. From performing chores like lawn mowing, maintaining weed control, cleaning swimming pools, and even fetching items, these types of robots will help users tick tasks off of their busy lists.
With the ability to effectively perform varied tasks and take on many roles, service robots provide numerous benefits — the three most being: labor savings, efficiency, and accuracy in analytics and data collection.
When it comes to the issue of staff shortages and turnovers, business owners can benefit from service robots as a permanent solution to keep operations going. With the ability to show up to work 24/7 without taking any sick or vacation leaves, service robots can provide savings for companies and business owners. In addition to this, robots need not be paid for overtime work. In that regard, they have also used security robots and cleaning robots that have full autonomy to work at night.
Since service robots can also take on plenty of roles, they can multi-task and perform numerous tasks for the price of “one employee”. This entails huge labor savings for a business owner as the need to hire multiple workers may be reduced for the price of one or two robots.
Having advanced service robotics technology, service robots can easily program or “learn” processes that would have taken people weeks to do so. This entails efficiency at a fast rate so that business or way of life at home may continue to prosper.
Such is the case that service robots who have systems based on full autonomy capabilities can take on roles and tasks to free up workers. Jobs like stocking shelves, answering business customers, serving and preparing food, and even full teleoperation services can be done by these service robots.
Most importantly, since these robots can handle menial tasks, workers can focus on more cognitive deliverables that will require their active attention and participation.
With AI tech and advanced systems, service robots can accurately and easily collect analytics and data that businesses, institutions, and organizations can use to further improve their services and for studies.
For example, service robots can accurately and quickly do tallies. This is often done by event service robots who are placed at the front of the house to keep count of the number of event attendees or retail service robots who keep track of people who enter shopping malls. Such information can help find out the foot traffic of an event or place so proper marketing and promotions can be done to generate more awareness.
They also can scan shelf labels and alert managers when a certain item is running low or which items are hot commodities.
From the five leaders in service robots alone, they can produce numerous service robots designed for many roles and tasks.
When it comes to industrial cleaning, one popular service robot is the LightStrike robot from Xenex. Such robot is used to sanitize and clean hospital rooms. Agricultural service robots are now high in demand to help the agriculture and farming sector. The electric robots of ExactShot can apply herbicides and efficiently plant seeds.
The ROBEAR is an example of a nursing service robot that can be used both in private and public settings. Using its robotic arm or robotic arms, the ROBEAR can gently lift an older patient.
As the technology and demand for service robots continue to increase, we can expect more of these intelligent bots to help out in many fields and sectors. Hopefully, more people and industries embrace these robots as part of our society so that human-robot interaction in the personal and professional sense can be practiced in a way we all benefit from.
Since professional service robots are often seen as ‘office service robots’, it’s easy to confuse them with industrial robots. The latter is designed to perform time-consuming but often dangerous tasks and manufacturing processes in the industrial environment to keep workers safe from potential harm and accidents. The construction industry and automotive industry are often where you can see industrial robots being used.
To prevent any malfunctions or accidents from happening, the internal control system of these robots can be manually overridden.