Before The Matrix’s terrifying human-enslaving robots and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator, many folks likely envisioned our techno-future as filled with loyal, helpful robots, like the Jetson family’s Rosey the Robot — a robotic housemaid, and Luke Skywalker’s R2D2.
This more promising technological future was on full display from September 10-13 at the World Robot Expo Beijing, where more than 650 companies showcased devices for the industrial, professional and commercial, healthcare, and logistics industries.
More than 280,000 people attended the expo, and while some may have been eager to catch a glance of our future mechanical overlords, most probably left fearing for their profession. Don’t believe us? We’ve selected five of the most impressive robots from the recent event — robots that could very well steal your job in the not-so-distant future.
Humanoid robots are all the rage, but why haven’t we seen any robotic sharks? Beijing-based company Robosea, specializing in autonomous underwater vehicles, has designed a high-speed, low-noise, aquatic bionic product called Robo-Shark. Its three-joint fin allows it to creep through the underwater environment, while its large body can resist moderate currents.
Robo-Shark, which is almost 2 meters long and weighs more than 60 kilograms, is also equipped with a multi-directional obstacle avoidance system — so it can presumably dodge real sharks. Look out, military reconnaissance divers, this machine might soon be coming for your paycheck.
If your job requires you to disinfect healthcare facilities, then this ultraviolet disinfection robot is not your friend. The robot combines ultraviolet light with photoplasma technology, which has proven effective at purifying the air and limiting the spread of airborne viruses. It also automatically turns off its ultraviolet light when it senses humans nearby.
In addition, the robot will report the temperature of people who walk by and alert those with an unusual body temperature — a handy feature during a pandemic.
If you bring home the ‘Benjamins’ guiding people to their table in a restaurant or as a museum attendant, then you should be worried about Peanut, the robotic guide. Peanut integrates multiple sensors and localization technology to navigate complicated environments and can automatically avoid obstacles.
A high-resolution screen acts as the robot’s display menu, and when Peanut’s camera detects a person in its way, the robot’s voice system will ask them to move (politely, we hope). Peanut has already been rolled out as a waiter at restaurants like Haidilao hot pot and a guide at museums.
JD.com is one of China’s biggest online retailers, delivering billions of packages every year. With so many parcels needing to be delivered, the company is now using robots to save time. These robots are particularly useful in complicated delivery scenarios — say, for example, in a pandemic. During China’s major outbreak of Covid-19, the firm collaborated with a Shanghai healthcare center to deliver protective equipment and medical supplies.
Its multi-sensor navigation system allows it to accept assignments online, plan its routes, and auto-lock itself upon arrival. It can even handle cross-floor delivery dispatches in high-rise buildings and complete deliveries in facilities with complex layouts, such as hotels. According to TechWeb, this intelligent delivery robot slashed labor costs by 50% in some hospitals during the pandemic.
The neighborhood handyman doesn’t stand a chance. Shenzhen-based company Han’s Laser has created an intelligent robotic assistant called MaiRa, which is equipped with a 3D visual sensor that allows it to identify objects. Its seven axes — imagine the joints of the human body — function smoothly to help you with tedious tasks, such as assembling IKEA furniture (you’ve been warned, furniture assembly workers).
MaiRa is allegedly easier to interact with than your significant other, and you can ask it to do what you want through a programmed control panel or voice command.
With assistance from Yiwen Lu
Cover image via IMDb
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