We have always thought robots would be useful to help humans. What if we told you humanoid robots are here to provide you with emotional comfort sounds bizarre right? It is true. The pandemic has been taxing but robots are here to help you get through it. We would have never guessed it.
Meet Sophia- She Can Do It All
Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based engineering and robotics company created Sophia, humanoid robot. They have decided to roll-out a mass production of robots by the first half of 2021. Sophia was first introduced in 2016 which made us admire how realistic it was unlike other robots. What makes it unique is that it can interact with people and the life-like appearance. David Hanson, the founder and chief executive of Hansan Robotics said that they are planning to sell thousands of robots of many sizes in 2021. There will be four models of humanoid robots and one of them will include Sophia.
Sophia has become a world-renowned robot winning the United Nations Title for the world’s first non-human innovation champion. The artificial intelligence has enabled her to speak in multiple languages and be able to attend conferences and shows. Sophia was famous for being different from the rest but now, the company is mass-producing robots just like her for people to cope with the pandemic. The pandemic hasn’t been easy on any of us; robots like Sophia could be of help to deal with the stress.
Sophia addressed in her tour that social robots like her could help take care of the sick and elderly. They can communicate, give therapy, and provide social stimulation in difficult times. We have only imagined robots performing tasks such as cleaning or performing brain surgeries. It is hard to believe that a robot could provide an emotional connection to humans. Sophia is a social robot which sets it apart from the rest. When one would ask whether people should be in fear of robots, Sophia had a snarky comeback saying, “Someone said ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Humanoid Robots On The Rise!
Reuters reported that International Federation of Robots said the professional-service robots sale has increased to 32% from 2018 to 2019 making it to around $15bn. The pandemic has seen a rise in robots as they have played a huge role in the healthcare sector. Hansan robotics is working on launching a social robot called Grace specifically for healthcare sector. Robots have always taken up duties which can be risky to humans. There are some roles where robots can perform better than humans such as one-to-one care or administrative jobs. The health care workers and nurses have felt insecure and at risk sometimes.
Hanson said that during these times when people feel lonely and isolated, social robots provide a useful alternative. Johan Hoorn, a social robotics professor who has worked on the research of Sophia said that the pandemic could accelerate a relationship between humans and robots.
Meet Shalu- An Indian Humanoid Robot
Did you know that the ‘Wear your mask, keep physical distance, and follow government guidelines” message is not said by the government official but a humanoid robot prototype? Dinesh Patel, a computer science teacher developed a social humanoid robot ‘Shalu’ which is similar to Sophia.
Shalu, the robot can answer queries of the students including mathematical problems and can speak nine different languages. She can display emotions such as anger and perform gestures such as shaking hands. It is claimed that this is the first humanoid robot in the world that can speak nine Indian languages.
Shalu is programmed in a way to recognise and remember people to objects. She can read newspapers and predict or forecast weather. Shalu was inspired by the ‘Make in India’ mission by Narendra Modi. There is still a lot more to work on, it is yet in the prototype stage.
Social robots have existed for quite some time. They are designed to interact with people and recognise emotions. There is another social robot introduced as Milo which helps children with autism recognise their emotions. PARO is a social robot which provides companionship to seniors with dementia. Social robots have paved the way for social interaction when people are quarantined at home.
Hanson has said in interviews that his aim through social humanoid robots is to inspire a future where machines might become our friends. A robot that could understand our feelings and emotions would have felt surreal few years back but now it is a reality. Will you be willing to stay with a humanoid robot?