Robots won’t take away our jobs. They will make work safer and more efficient (opinion)

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, industries that did not previously pose a health and safety risk to workers — such as package and food delivery, travel, hospitality and even energy, transportation and construction — now do. Many of these jobs can’t be accomplished through Zoom, requiring a physical presence. So employers are looking to technology to help protect their workers from infection. They are relying on technologies like mobile agile robots to do the myriad of jobs that require a physical presence so human workers don’t run the risk of getting sick.



a person holding a bag of luggage: A worker loads groceries for delivery into a Starship Technologies Inc. robot in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Monday, May 18, 2020. Starship is a six-wheeled ground robot that can navigate streets and sidewalks autonomously, offering on-demand package delivery for consumers and businesses. Photographer: Nina Riggio/Bloomberg via Getty Images


© Nina Riggio/Bloomberg/Getty Images
A worker loads groceries for delivery into a Starship Technologies Inc. robot in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Monday, May 18, 2020. Starship is a six-wheeled ground robot that can navigate streets and sidewalks autonomously, offering on-demand package delivery for consumers and businesses. Photographer: Nina Riggio/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This pandemic-inspired partnership of people and machines is one that I believe will long outlast the pandemic itself and redefine the future of work.

Loading...

Load Error

Pairing robots that can do the physical work with humans that provide true intelligence, perception and the ability to make decisions can enable work to continue in environments that would otherwise be unsafe or simply unpleasant for humans.

The result of this pairing is only as effective as the robot itself. An organizing principle of our work at Boston Dynamics has been to create machines that have some of the physical intelligence that we humans tend to take for granted. Negotiating a cluttered room without tripping, climbing stairs, opening a door or stacking boxes becomes automatic to us humans once we grow beyond the toddler stage. But these basic physical skills have been beyond the capability of most mobile robots until recently. In understanding both the capabilities and limitations of robots, we can better visualize a role for them within the workplace that augments, rather than replaces, human labor.

There are already a number of applications in which robots and humans work in tandem, with robots assuming the risky, tedious or physically demanding parts of the job while a human co-worker, possibly located remotely, provides critical judgment and guidance. Ford, for example, is pairing a robot with engineers to map its facility and create digital blueprints. Aker BP, an oil exploration and development company, is exploring how robots can assume risky tasks on offshore operations.

Health care is an obvious, but impactful use of robotic technology as well. Robots can’t get sick so using them in certain circumstances could help protect both health care workers and patients. First responders, for example, can now use robots to interact with Covid-stricken households and collect vital signs.

Retail and delivery companies have explored using robots and drones to sort or deliver packages for years. With Covid risks, the need for this technology became immediate. Using robots to handle the last-mile delivery of packages and limit human interaction, for example, not only helps protect drivers, but it also reassures customers. Last year, DoorDash announced the use of a food delivery robot and FedEx announced a rollout of an autonomous delivery robot. Health concerns will only accelerate such adoption of robotic technology.

Essential services, like electricity generation and construction, are also now using robots for repetitive and tedious inspection tasks while reserving critical judgment for a human operator located safely in a remote control center. They are incorporating robotics with unprecedented speed and integrating the technology into the regular responsibilities of site managers and project leads. The impact has been profound: What often amounted to weeks or months of work can now be streamlined into days.

Rather than seeing robots as threats to manual labor and entry-level positions, the pandemic is requiring us to think about how technology can augment and even improve our current jobs. When a solution — like agile mobile robots — proves to be useful for today’s health and safety challenges, but is also versatile enough to be easily adapted for tomorrow’s need for a scaled workforce, it is well positioned for widespread and sustained adoption. The pandemic may have sped up the partnership between robots and humans, but businesses will ultimately see the long-term payoff of keeping this technology in place long after the pandemic is over.

Continue Reading

Source Article

Next Post

Searches for sports jobs grow 11%, postings dip by 25%: Report

© Provided by CNBCTV18 Searches for sports jobs grow 11%, postings dip by 25%: Report Job searches for sports-related opportunities like personal trainer, sports centre manager and nutritionist have risen steadily in the country but postings for such positions have been gradually declining over the years, according to a report. […]