While many of us have been busy thinking about VPNs, collaboration tools, and the right lighting for all our Zoom and GoToMeeting events, others have been thinking about … robots.
The New York Times recently wrote about a salesman selling robotic vacuums (the Whiz.) He currently is doing great, thank you very much, because his robot can free up hotel and airport housekeeping staff for more complex cleaning needs.
The robot vacuum also generates reports on what it cleaned – useful if you need to document your coronavirus cleaning procedures.
Meanwhile, over at Dell Technologies, Chief Technology Officer John Roese told ZDNet that his company sees its manufacturing evolving to more robots controlled by a remote worker, or remote workers participating via Virtual Reality (VR.)
And the Miami Herald, in an opinion piece, predicted more “automated cashiers” at supermarkets (to avoid COVID-19 risks) and more robot-driven assembly lines.
Large corporations have been investing in what’s called Robotic Process Automation, or RPA. This is software – not a machine – that is programmed to handle repetitive routines such as processing testing kits or SBA loan applications.
Deloitte did a study in 2018 that found investment growing in RPA by companies seeking to jump ahead of their competitors.
Now the rival consulting firm of Bain notes infection fears from the coronavirus pandemic have spurred companies to reassess their plans for automation – whether it’s by software or machine.
This could give you indigestion if your job involves a repetitive process. Pro-automation fans say automation will free up workers for other tasks, but anti-automation critics fear a surge in joblessness.
Whatever happens, the pandemic clearly is accelerating discussions about growth and development in robotics and automation.
We don’t know if the future includes R2D2 – or The Terminator. But we can recommend an appropriate place to discuss this: at the Bionic Bar on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
It’s staffed entirely by drink-serving robots.