Robotics & AI will be the driving force in India. New age Robots will be an inevitable part of Industry 4.0. In this interview with Mr. Jayakrishnan T, Senior IEEE Member and CEO, ASIMOV Robotics Pvt. Ltd. discussed how these cutting-edge technologies are crucial for businesses, associations and societies to establish a strong foundation in these rapidly changing environments.
What are the current trends in robotics that will transform the industry across sectors?
Apart from automating mundane and repetitive tasks, robots will emerge as a helping hand for humans. With the help of robots -in the form of assistive or collaborative workforce, it will be able to provide highly personalized services for increasing efficiencies. The key sectors that will experience the advancement in the first place include – manufacturing, logistics, retail, hospitality, security, medical and education.
Taking medical for e.g., surgical robots powered by artificial intelligence are bringing new innovations and accuracy to the operating room. A recent IEEE Generation AI 2020 survey revealed that 39% parents in India are extremely likely and 25% are very likely to allow robotic surgery on their child. Another e.g., is the hospitality sector where self-driving robots have been deployed during the pandemic for various tasks, from contactless delivery, disinfecting areas using ultraviolet lights and scrubbing floors, helping to maintain safe environments for essential workers and the public. The same survey revealed that 58% Indians have complete trust in robots for cleaning and sanitization purposes in a public space.
Undoubtedly, adoption of robotics will be revolutionary. Moreover, it will also continue to see advancement in military and space applications. In coming future, collaborative service robotics will gain importance – more floors will be swept; more lawns mowed by robots; more patients will be served that will lead to the release of a consumer-level robot.
Why do you think robots will be an inevitable component of the Industry 4.0?
The evolution of robotic capabilities has been exponential, which would play a pivotal role in defining the Industry 4.0. It will transform the world by introducing digital work force, combining the major game changers like computer simulation, AR/VR, rapid prototyping, collaborative robots, big data analysis, IoT, high speed internet, cloud computing etc. As far as industry 4.0 is concerned, collaborative robots are one of the inevitable components in enabling flexible manufacturing environment.
Today, robots have become more efficient, customizable, assistive, cooperative, multi-purpose and safer, and have contributed immense value to the service sectors. Interestingly this transformation is not only useful to manufacturing industry but also capable of taking robots from factories to alongside human beings; from repetitive tasks to intelligent jobs!
How has robotics transformed Healthcare sector?
Healthcare industry is facing major challenges such as 1) huge requirements of physicians, surgeons and skilled professionals in proportion with the increase in population 2) immediate availability of medical attention in case of emergencies 3) High probability of human errors in diagnostic and therapeutic processes. The pandemic has not only expedited the development of health tech but has also influenced technology solutions in other sectors.
With the advancement of robotics and supplementary technologies, it is possible to address issues such as direct consultation, care giving and nursing- in the form of tele-medicine, medical logistics, predictive diagnostics, robotic surgery, etc., hence taking the healthcare industry to newer heights.
Telehealth, AI and remote monitoring tools are helping nursing expand care beyond in-person bedside monitoring, creating a practically virtual nurse. This trend was clearly visible in a recent IEEE survey – it highlighted that 69% of parents in India are extremely or very comfortable leaving their child with an AI virtual nurse.
What is the future of robotics and automation, and the new normal in the post-COVID-19 world?
As the pandemic has influenced the direction of latest trends in technology applications, it has become imperative to maintain the new world order. However, as far as digitalisation and automation is concerned, three important areas where robotics and AI can support in maintaining the new normal are 1) Social Behaviour 2) Environmental Hygiene and Contactless Treatment 3) Nursing Social Behaviour.
Robots or Intelligent Systems can be installed in workplace and public places to ensure that people are following the guidelines of authorities during pandemic, such as visitor screening, usage of mask, social distancing, environmental hygiene, cleaning and sanitisation, air quality management, contactless nursing and treatment, amongst others. Robots are already being used in various hospitals across the country to support the health workers from getting infected inside the quarantine zone. They are very practical and capable of autonomously navigating inside the isolation ward to transport and dispense food and medical supplies for patients under care. These robots can engage the patients as well as initiate video conferencing between patients and the physician/ caregiver from a remote location. It can also have the added feature of being able to disinfect the used items and the premises using ultra-violet radiation and disinfectants like Sodium Hypochlorite or electrostatic spray.
While the usability, robustness, clinical integration and scaling up remain a challenge at large, it will take a concerted effort of scientists, engineers, and medical professionals to make this a reality. It’s high time for everyone to invest in new digital infrastructure and vital projects in order to innovate for a sustainable future. The pandemic has taught the world a number of lessons and one of the key things is to leverage technology in its full potential to build a robust healthcare system.