Parks, museums, shopping malls. These are just a few of the places you may soon begin to spot human-like robots.
“Expect to see robots in supermarkets, expect to see them in airports, expect to see them in football stadiums, expect to see them in places where the robot could interact with many people,” said Will Jackson, founder of the UK-based robotic company Engineered Arts.
As robots advance and gain more humanistic traits, they will first be adopted in places where they can create the most value.
Because robots are still very expensive to make, it makes the most economic sense to use them in scenarios where the cost can be distributed over many people, Jackson said.
Similar to how the high cost of manufacturing robots is offset by the robot’s ability to do a lot of work on high-value products such as cars and TVs, a humanoid robot — a robot that interacts with people — must also have that same one to many ratio.
Jackson’s company, which makes humanoid robots for entertainment, has already had its robots end up in these sort of public scenarios. Some of the company’s biggest markets include museums and other visitor attractions including science centres and theme parks, he said.
One of Jackson’s robots called the Robothespian — which is capable of speaking 30 languages, singing, and telling jokes — has even been used in corporate settings for company presentations.
But as these robots advance, companies will also begin to use the machines in more interesting ways. They won’t just be repeating programmed scripts, they will use data to do things like make personal recommendations or to sell you things.
For example, Google, which has invested heavily in robotic companies recently, may even begin to bring the data it has collected about users to the physical world, Jackson said.
“Google pretty much knows everything you do online. So imagine if the sales rep in a shop knew your complete shopping history, knew everything you had ever bought, knew every TV program you have ever watched… If Google already knows all of those things about you and it puts that intelligence in a robot and then it walks up to you, it’s going to be the best salesman of all time,” Jackson said.
“Those are the kind of applications you are going to see.”