China continues to accelerate its bid to grab the initiative in 21st-century robotics and artificial intelligence development as the next emerging global powerhouse. Small wonder that the world’s leading manufacturing giant has already raced past the rest of the world as a major user of robots.
According to the China Robot Industry Alliance, the country is already a flourishing hub for consumer robotics and is poised for a radical transition from its human-based workforce to an automated Artificial Intelligence or AI-based alternative. Its recent unveiling of the incredibly adept and efficient personal robot BIG-i is a pertinent example. Dubbed “butler,” this humanoid is primarily a service robot with the programmed ability to aid homeowners in the performance of a wide variety of household errands. It can easily track the location of various household appliances and transport items from one point to the next by employing its claw-like mechanical hands.
BIG-i was designed by Dr. Tin Lun Lam, a research fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who had previously designed the “Treebot,” the first biologically inspired tree-climbing robot equipped with a highly advanced maneuvering mechanism.
Recently, China unveiled its first ever robot security guard at a Tech Fair in Chongqing. The nearly 1.50-meter tall machine dubbed “AnBot” has been described as a highly intelligent patrolling machine with advanced emergency-alert-based navigation and environment monitoring capabilities. The AnBot, according to its developers, can be highly useful for detecting biochemical and explosive-related threats.
The robot is jointly developed by the National University of Defense Technology and a robotics company in China’s Hunan Province. According to National University of Defense Technology director Xiao Xiangjiang, significant strides in security related technology have enabled engineers to lead the way forward in robotics.
“Breakthroughs in low-cost autonomous navigation and positioning as well as intelligent video surveillance have contributed to the development of the robot which apart from other functions is also capable of responding during emergencies.”
Robotics is the branch of engineering and computer science that deals with the design, construction and operation of robots, as well as the technology needed for their control, sensory response, and information processing. As robotics and artificial intelligence continue to dominate major 21st-century technology trends, countries are looking to accelerate their efforts to raise the bar on research, innovation, and consumer-driven technology.
According to a report, some Japanese companies are looking to introduce an indoor lettuce farm that will be managed autonomously by robots fitted with computers. According to experts, the fully automated farm could be introduced as early as next year and could make lettuce-farming more economical and equally environment-friendly.
Recently, another remarkable human-like robot was introduced in Hefei east China. Created by University of Science and Technology of China experts, this fascinating humanoid “Jia Jia,” famously dubbed “robot goddess,” is a highly interactive cyborg that communicates with its natural eye movement and speech which is intelligently synchronized with its lip movement.
According to the Frankfurt-based International Federation of Robotics -IFR, China will soon emerge as the leading robot manufacturer in the world with significant advances in robotics development in both its automobile as well as electronic sectors. IFR General Secretary Gudrun Litzenberger believes advancement in robotics is a need of the hour.
“Companies are forced to invest ever more in robots to be more productive and raise quality. In the current phase it’s the auto industry, but in the next two or three years it will be driven by the electronics industry.”
According to last year’s statistics, China has just 30 robots per 10,000 workers employed in manufacturing industries, compared with over 400 in South Korea and just over 300 in Japan. These figures also compare favorably with Germany’s nearly 300 robots and just above 150 in the United States. An Oxford University research study published a few years ago had projected that nearly 50 percent of the labor market in the United States alone remains at risk of being mechanized out of existence. It projected that nearly 700 different human-performed jobs could be completely automated in a matter of a few years.
China is looking to spearhead a massive robot revolution by facilitating highly automated manufacturing intended to replace millions of low-paid workers and therefore render human labor virtually redundant. China’s extraordinary advances in robotic technology will allow it to establish and even extend its domination in the field of robot-making in merely a matter of decades.
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