Coronavirus Speeds Up Robotic Revolution
With our society brought to its knees by the Coronavirus epidemic, will this be a watershed moment in the robotic revolution?
Multiple states have a shelter in place order while the US has a national quarantine and social distancing order effectively freezing the economy. Restaurants, bars, sporting events and many of the activities we enjoy in our everyday life have disappeared in the last few weeks.
Every human is a potential carrier of the virus so limiting human to human contact is the best way to contain the spread.
But robots are still coming to work.
The robotic security firm Knightscope has been posting all over social media to show videos of their robots patrolling hospitals, malls and other public areas. The robots will tell you to "Please disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer and avoid touching your face." - Knightscope K5 Outdoor ASR
These robots are able to record activity and report a crime. Knightscope brags about a double digit decrease in crime when one of their robots is stationed in a public area.
"Remote monitoring will be the new norm – and keep in mind that robots are immune to disease and danger and are working today 24/7/365 across the country helping keep the places you work, study and visit safe – even during a pandemic," said William Santana Li, Chairman and CEO, Knightscope, Inc. (www.knightscope.com)
According to the US Department of Labor and Statistics there are over 1.1 million private security guards in the country. All of whom are potential carriers of the Coronavirus. Will many firms to look to robotic security guards after this epidemic?
Surely self-driving cars should see major momentum from this epidemic. Via and Uber cancelled shared rides on their platforms and even the CEO of Uber was caught making a public relations flub by admitting that he would not send his son in an Uber for fear of catching something from a driver. There are 200,000+ taxi drivers, over 4 million Uber and over 1 million Lyft drivers throughout the United States. That’s a lot of potential Coronavirus hosts that could be eliminated with robots taking over the driving.
Restaurants employ nearly 3 million wait staff throughout the US. Robotic waiters are just around the corner and with the ability for a restaurant to ease customers concerns on health and virus transmission, a robotic waiter could be very appealing and save significant costs for the restaurants.
If we get in a war during a virus lockdown, who will fly our fighter planes? Elon Musk just said the age of the fighter pilot is behind us. Will the military want to rely on humans who could potentially get sick and not be able to fight if the US is threatened?
During these times safety is everyone's paramount concern. From replacing the 500,000 US bus drivers with robots to placing robotic nurses in hospitals, robots will give our society the ability to function even during our most deadly pandemics.