The Covid-19 pandemic has again shown the possibility of using robots in many situations where human health was at risk of infection. We will leave images of a drone delivering food or taking a dog for a walk with us.
In a more serious context, in South Korea, the robots measured temperatures and distributed disinfectants.
It is worth asking ourselves what applications of robots will become more important in the long term:
1.augmentation of physical work in the logistics sector
The development of the pandemic will increase e-commerce in relation to stationary shops. It is already visible how much demand for warehouse workers has increased. They could be massively supported by the robots. The British online supermarket Ocado is keen to boast of the massive use of robots in its warehouses. Based on energy consumption and torque analysis, Ocado engineers are able to teach the algorithm when a robot requires servicing, thus saving time and money significantly. Both in the warehouse sector and in factory production, a new type of robot, the AMR (autonomous mobile robot), is increasingly used. These are self-moving robots, making autonomous decisions in the warehouse or factory - like autonomous cars.
Fetch Robotics, founded in 2014, is an interesting company that is a leader in autonomous robotics. Fetch robots are able to move with the load from point A to B autonomously navigating to avoid collisions with people, accidentally falling objects etc. They are also able to take off and lift packages and send them on tape. However, picking up and putting down objects is still a weak point in robotics. The strongest point of warehouse robotisation is that the robot is able to cover much longer daily distances in warehouses - about 30 km.
2. disinfection of rooms
The work in the pandemic proved to be an excellent support in disinfecting, for example, hospitals with UV radiation. The Danish UVD is leading the way here, whose autonomous robots have been used in hospitals in China and Romania.
3.automation of laboratory tests
Robots are replacing laboratory technicians. A new type of robot "laboratory technician" controlled by remote application can carry out tests e.g. with hazardous biological material.
4. food preparation
Concerns over food safety have increased interest in food preparation robots in restaurant chains. McDonalds, for example, has already tested automatic deep fat fryers. The fast food chains have already tested cookers and order-picking robots.
Autonomous robots, like autonomous vehicles, also pose a threat to humans - in order for people and robots to work together safely and efficiently, e.g. in storage spaces, microlocation technology is very important - adapting robots to move precisely at very short distances like centimetres. A good example of this is the company Humatics.
During the pandemic, the robots measured the temperature of patients, provided meals to patients in hospitals, and enabled remote communication between doctors and patients.
Paradoxically, robot-nurses are more widely used in countries with less developed health services. While in OECD countries there are 3.5 doctors per 1 000 people in China, only 2 doctors. The use of robots in Chinese hospitals is therefore much greater than in Western countries. Hospital robots have helped a lot to control the epidemic in a poor country like Rwanda.