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  • Chelsea Tang

BEYOND Expo 2024: Human-Robot Collaboration Gradually Becoming Reality, Though Autonomous Robots Might Still Be a Ways Off

The boom of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is opening up new possibilities in robotics, reshaping our ideas of how to live and work. Today, human-robot collaboration is no longer a mere concept; it’s already becoming reality.

Beyond Expo 2024

At BEYOND Expo 2024, held from 22 to 25 May in the Venetian Macao, a panel of distinguished executives in the field of robotics discussed how the revolutionary technology could impact our lives in the future as well as its other potential applications.

These executives include Mr Wang Bin, Co-Founder of Dato Robot, a company designing humanoid nannies; Mr Han Bicheng, Founder of BrainCo, a company that designs brain-computer interfaces; and Mr Zhao Yuekai, Co-Founder of Silin Robot, a company that develops robot operating systems.

Beyond Expo 2024

One of the specific breakthroughs in robotics discussed during the event was brain-computer interfaces, specifically how it might be able to enhance lives. Mr Han said that his company is working on a non-invasive way to implement the new technology, not requiring a chip to be implanted. The current challenge with this approach, however, is that the signals collected are relatively weak. To overcome this, he said there needs to be a significant advancement in sensors, which is also the focus of his company.

“Initially, we aim to address the needs of disabled individuals, as well as those with sleep disorders and various brain diseases,” explained Mr Han in Chinese Mandarin. “We strive for technological breakthroughs in these areas.”

Beyond Expo 2024

Mr Zhao, meanwhile, noted that there will be more automation happening across different industries as human-robot collaboration technology improves.

“In terms of human-robot collaboration in industrial settings, I believe complete automation may gradually become a reality in the future, but it will take time to reach a point where it doesn't require significant collaboration,” he said.

He also said that human-robot collaboration will continue in the medical field.

“Due to regulations, regulatory issues, and ethical concerns, doctors will always need to work together with robots. The final execution will involve both robotic doctors and human operators.”

“However, since all surgeries undergo extensive verification processes, including medical certifications, I believe there is vast potential for the application of robots in various surgeries, such as orthopedic surgery, ultrasound-guided procedures, and laparoscopic surgeries like Da Vinci,” he added.

Beyond Expo 2024

What’s more, he predicted that within the next ten years, there should be significant breakthroughs in the quantity of robots used to help humans perform certain tasks and procedures.

For Mr. Wang, whose company designs humanoid robots that can serve as nannies, the primary concern is safety. “When a true robotic nanny enters households, the first and foremost issue to address is safety. Without solving the safety concerns, it is impossible to have robots in households.”

“Speaking of safety, ethical considerations related to service robots need to be addressed perfectly. That is the first thing to do,” he explained.

Beyond Expo 2024

“The second concern is the interaction between humans and robotic nannies. From the current situation, the key problem lies in the need for comprehensive solutions in software, hardware, operating systems, vision, and other aspects.”

Once these concerns are addressed, realistically, he said his company can introduce service robots in households as early as 20230.

But Mr Zhao stressed that we shouldn’t get our hopes up yet.

“In the short term, I don't think we need to worry too much about the autonomy of robots and the control by humans because the current level of intelligence in robots is still at a very basic stage,” he said.

“The concept of autonomy or control implies that the robot must have self-awareness and the ability to execute actions based on that awareness. In terms of current technology, it is challenging to achieve this, both in software and physical hardware.”

Beyond Expo 2024

Ultimately, for all these robotics-related technologies to succeed and bear fruit, resources must be allotted into research and innovation. There must also be collaboration between academia, industry, and government institutions to foster the development of advanced robotics, intelligent algorithms, and effective human-robot interaction techniques. A collaborative approach also enables stakeholders to harness the full potential of the technologies they are working with and advance the robotics field to new frontiers.

  • A panel of distinguished executives in the field of robotics discussed how the revolutionary technology could impact our lives in the future at BEYOND Expo 2024.

  • More automation is expected to happen as human-robot collaboration technology improves.

  • However, we might not see autonomous robots yet in the short-term.

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