Various robotic applications have been around for years, mostly in industrial settings. But as technology rapidly advances and needs evolve, so does the use of them in the commercial world. This trend is also being accelerated by a lack of labour supply in certain areas and the impact of COVID-19.
As is often quoted, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and tech companies are realizing there are needs in the commercial world to be fulfilled. This has boosted developments in self-navigation, AI, IoT and battery life, leading to a booming use of robotics in the commercial sector. This means that we are seeing more and more robotics moving outside of their traditional manufacturing roles into retail, customer service, hospitality, transportation, logistics and distribution, and healthcare, to name but a few.
According to a Forrester Report, automation may replace 6% of all jobs in the US by 2021. Mckinsey’s assessment sees an ever bigger shift with one third of American jobs being automated by 2030. This trend is being propagated by COVID-19 as many tasks either can no longer be performed safely by humans or there simply isn’t the workforce available.
This is leading to a number of innovative robotic solutions now making their way into our everyday lives, such as delivery robots being used at Alexandra Hospital in Singapore to deliver meals and medication to patients of COVID-19, protecting healthcare staff and stemming the spread of the disease. In China, delivery robots are being used to deliver packages to students and can even take the elevator to access different floors of the building. Hotels and office buildings are also taking advantage of these smart robots to protect staff and improve efficiency.
For instance, Guardforce Hong Kong has developed a delivery robot named the Porter Guard which reduces labour costs and the need for humans to perform tedious and repetitive delivery tasks within a complex building, especially at a time where close human contact is often restricted. It is fully autonomous and equipped with a smart container which requires a password to open.
Currently, this solution is popular in the hospitality field where it delivers items, room service and gifts to in-room guests. The platform can be expanded on to include a guiding service for hotel guests, building disinfection, security patrolling, cleansing and more for other commercial uses.
In the area of hygiene, the cleaning industry has faced a shortage of manpower for years but now COVID-19 has emerged, the need to regularly sanitize public areas is even greater. Robotics have again come in useful to solve this issue. Cleaning robots, such as the Whiz automated commercial carpet cleaner by SoftBank Robotics (seen in action below), is ideal for keeping the floors of large commercial spaces such as hotels, offices, schools and airports regularly cleaned using cutting-edge AI and following a pre-programmed route. The robot is small in size but powerful, covering an area up to 1,500 sqm on a single charge!
Guardforce Hong Kong has also launched a range of anti-epidemic robotic solutions to help control the virus, protect staff and plug labour shortage gaps, including the Smart VirusGuard which sprays and disinfects premises round-the-clock operating with auto-pilot technology. See it at work here:
Guardforce’s multi-functional customer service robot, named the Smart ConcieGuard, combines visitor management, concierge, access control and surveillance features and now has expanded functionality allowing it to measure visitors’ body temperatures non-intrusively through thermal imaging CCTV and facial recognition. Requiring no manpower to operate, it serves as an effective and efficient solution at entrances to premises with a high footfall.
As the market for commercial robotics grows, innovators such as Guardforce Hong Kong are continually developing new solutions and expanding the functionality of their existing devices to meet the ever-changing needs of the commercial sector. Find out more about the latest solutions here.