Robots are already helping to cook food, do construction, clean houses and more. They will take on more tasks in the future – but which ones? At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a wealth of robots with different purposes could be seen. Some of them were silly, some awesome, some a little bit scary. Not all of these will end up being widely used, but there are certainly a variety of tasks that robots could do for us in the not-too-distant future. Here are a few, more or less in descending order of “most likely to be useful or have a positive impact” to “least necessary/just for fun”.
Harvest our food
Simply called “L”, the robot from the Japanese agritech startup Agrist can identify and pick ripe peppers with millimeter precision and through densely stacked leaves. A robot like this could not only be handy, but necessary if the current farm labor shortage continues. L uses cameras and an AI algorithm to identify a pepper’s position, size, ripeness and where it is cut. It moves along suspension wires that need to be pre-installed, and can then approach a plant, find a target pepper, cut it, and then fold it to drop it into a collection box. L can also predict harvest volume and collect data about harvests, such as B. the number of days remaining until maturity. According to Agrist, L costs less than $10,000 compared to an average of $73,000 for traditional automatic harvesting robots. The robot could likely be trained to harvest a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Plant our food
In keeping with the theme of agriculture, John Deere brought a highly functional agricultural machine to the trade fair. The company says its ExactShot planting robot can reduce the amount of starter fertilizer farmers use by more than 60 percent. It uses sensors to apply starter fertilizer directly to individual seeds as they are planted, rather than blindly spraying fertilizer across the entire row of seeds. In the US corn harvest alone, ExactShot could save over 93 million gallons of starter fertilizer annually, which would also prevent excess fertilizer from growing weeds or entering local waterways.
take care of us
Aeo is a service robot from the Japanese company Aoelus Robotics. The company says its bot can be used for security, delivery, health and hospitality purposes. Aeo has two arms, one equipped with grippers to pick up objects, open doors or press buttons, and the other equipped with an L-shaped UV attachment to disinfect surfaces. Its 360° night vision camera can monitor a home, office or other space and stream live video to your phone or laptop. Its care function can detect when patients are in distress or danger (details on how the robot does this are easy). At 3.8 feet tall and 1.8 feet wide, it’s relatively compact, and its arm can lift up to 8.8 pounds. So it doesn’t help any patient if they fall, but he can bring them food, drink or other supplies. Aeo is already being used in airports, hotels and hospitals in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.
Deliver things to us
Ottonomy wants to reduce the cost of deliveries by 50 percent with its delivery robot Ottobot. The tricked box on wheels is about 4.5 feet high, 4 feet long and 2.5 feet wide and weighs 200 pounds. It won’t win races with a top speed of four miles per hour — that’s the speed the average adult walks at — but depending on where it’s coming from, its speed might not matter that much. The bot can perform autonomous deliveries – where a door opens and a box is placed on the floor – or attended deliveries, the customer receives an SMS letting them know the robot is there and a QR code to open the subject. There’s a smaller compartment for things like wine bottles or other liquids, and a larger one for groceries or meal deliveries; The robot is customizable and modular, allowing customers to customize its structure and compartments to meet their specific needs. It is powered by a replaceable battery and navigates autonomously through its surroundings.
Charge our electric cars
Evar’s Parky robot was developed to help electric vehicle owners recharge their car’s batteries faster and with less effort. As EV acceptance increases, tools like Parky could become helpful when drivers are trying to navigate what is still a lean charging infrastructure. Instead of having to park at a charging station, drivers can park anywhere in a lot and have Parky come to them. The bot offers 15kW of DC charging per hour and gives vehicles a range of around 50 miles. The catch is that drivers still need to find and plug in a spot next to an ‘EV robot port’, so Parky might not make much of a difference in convenience and speed depending on the supply/demand ratio; The robot makes the most sense for buildings that want to make their parking lots more EV-friendly without having to do construction, remodeling, or add electrical capacity.
Make us bubble tea
Richtech Robotics’ Adam robot has two arms with handles that can be individually adjusted to make different drinks. During CES, the bot churned out Bubble Tea; Customers could select a flavor on a touchscreen, and the robot would mix the required ingredients, add ice and boba, seal the cup, and then place it on the counter for the waiting customer. Adam can also work as a bartender or barista. One thing Adam might want to work on is speed; I waited in line for about five minutes to get a robotic bubble tea, and after not moving an inch, I exited the line before I had even selected a flavor. I’m all for automating bubble tea and other beverages if it makes them better, faster, or cheaper, but between the long wait and not trying the end product, I can’t quite vouch for Adam just yet.
Banner Image Credit: Vanessa Bates Ramirez