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With the Advent of AI, Robotics are Getting Legitimately Impressive

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Artificial intelligence and robotics continue to meld in new and exciting ways. AI is revolutionizing how humans and machines interact, which has had a resounding effect on the robotics industry. From robots that can speak to self-tracking rescue patrols, the future of these technologies seems to be intertwined.

AI Opens the Door for Intelligent Robots

Tune into any sci-fi show from the last half century, and you will likely see a smart-talking robot quipping at its owner. The idea of smart machines making life easier or harder for mankind was on creatives' minds long before the advent of computers. However, these concepts seemed like daydreams until recently.

Breakthroughs in AI have made robotic interactions more intuitive. For example, ChatGPT enables people to enter test prompts to describe papers, stories, images, and even videos. The AI system takes these prompts and creates a variety of options in seconds. The technology isn’t perfect, but it's improving everyday, by itself.

Source - Robotguide - ANYmal

Source – Robotguide – ANYmal

Large Language Model (LLM) AI systems continue to open the door for mainstream adoption. This tech has made it possible to communicate with your devices in a variety of ways, including speech and text. These systems, which make devices like your Amazon Alexus responsive, are the precursors to the systems that will make future robots great at taking orders, providing directions, and communicating complex concepts.

Text and speech aren't the only ways robots learn. There's growing research in the field of teaching robots just like humans using visual cues. The main advantage of this learning style is that anyone can program complex physical tasks with minimal effort.

Simulated Learning

Perhaps the most exciting advancement in robotics and AI is the ability to teach in simulated environments. Simulated environments can be set up to meet any scenario and at a minimum cost. Additionally, they can be run millions of times to optimize a robot's ability to make decisions in similar scenarios. This style of machine learning creates exciting possibilities for a future where humans and robots can collaborate seamlessly to improve the world.

AI Robotics is On the Rise

According to a recent survey taken by Next Move Strategy, the AI robotics sector is expected to grow 10x to 184B by 2030. The study revealed that AI robots are currently found in nearly all industries. These stats correlate with other studies that show 3.4 million industrial robots in use today. From healthcare to weapons of war, AI robots are big business. As such, one sector that could see a massive boost in the coming months is home robotics.

Robots in Your Home

In 2021, iRobot introduced the world to the robotic vacuum Roomba. This robotic vacuum was an instant hit, with +44M sold.

finviz dynamic chart for  IRBT

At the time of writing, the majority of analysts view IRBT as a ‘Hold'.

These early devices used IR and shock sensors to clumsily navigate your room. Today, these devices incorporate Lidar, IR, radar, and AI to create realistic 3d maps and real-time decisions when keeping your space tidy.

Source - iRobot

Source – iRobot

These units can be seen as pioneers in the AI home robotics sector, but they aren't the only robots vying for your attention. Robot caretakers, home security drones, and even robot pets are all technologies set to see growing adoption.

Robotic Dogs That Can Think

The idea of mechanical pets has been on toy makers' and tinkerers' minds for centuries. Some of the world's greatest authors and minds have envisioned mechanical dogs providing lasting companionship, security, and comfort. Reversly, some saw the potential for abuse of the technology early on.

For example, in the dystopian bestseller Fahrenheit 451, mechanical hounds scour the countryside in search of anyone who opposes the government's mandates. In this classic novel, man's robotic best friend is equipped with a four-inch hollow steel needle that injects morphine or procaine and an advanced sniffing sensor that can hunt down men from miles away. Not exactly a sunny view of the future.

Notably, it's unlikely that the creative minds in the past could have ever envisioned robots as capable as today's devices. These advanced quadrupedal (4-legged) robots integrate 360-degree vision, IR depth perception, and self-teaching AI technologies that provide advanced situational awareness and the ability to make decisions on the fly.

A New Era in Smart Robotics

In 2016, Swiss robotics firm ANYbotics set out to make the most capable quadrupedal (4-legged) robot to date, ANYmal.  Quadrupedal robots are of particular interest to engineers due to their ability to climb over obstacles that wheels or tracks find difficult. These specifications make them ideal for inspection, monitoring, rescue missions, and many more applications.

ANYbotics incorporated a host of hi-tech sensors, including LiDAR and 360-degree vision, to provide the unit with the ability to traverse rough terrain. From day one, the team realized they needed to leverage AI to give ANYmal the ability to navigate and learn without human guidance.

Machine Learning Combined with Model-Based Controls

ANYmal took the concept a step further after a team of ETH Zurich researchers used machine learning to teach the bot new tricks, such as parkour and other acrobatic movements. Notably, two distinct methods enabled the bot to recognize obstacles and figure out how to traverse them without any human input.

To accomplish this task, ANYmal's camera transmits the data to the ANN, enabling it to cross-reference the scenario with previous situations. Impressively, the AI can learn using trial and error to determine the best options. Additionally, model-based controls were used to improve performance.

Unlike trial-and-based machine learning, where millions of simulations are run to get the best results, model-based robot control uses precise movements and data to enable a robot to recognize preset situations, such as stairs or small gaps. Combined with machine learning, you get a robust unit that can make decisions based on the terrain and tasks.

NVIDIA AI

Another firm pioneering AI robotics is NVIDIA. Most people know NVIDIA for its graphic cards, which power everything from gaming PCs to crypto mining operations. However, many people aren't aware that it is also a leader in AI robots.

finviz dynamic chart for  NVDA

At the time of writing, the majority of analysts view NVDA as a ‘Strong Buy'.

NVIDIA has a suite of AI tools that can help robotics engineers create better machines. For example,  NVIDIA Jetson enables robots to autonomously navigate complex environments using real-time AI decision-making. The system can recognize obstacles, optimize paths, and even work with other robots to complete its goals.

NVIDIA robots are already in use to help assemble, ship, and inspect quality products. The system leverages simulated environments to test and reinforce learning algorithms before real-world deployment. This approach reduces programming costs and enables you to conduct extreme scenario testing without damaging the device.

Competition in the Sector

The robotics sector continues to see growing competition from key players including Boston Dynamics, Softbank Group, ABB, Microsoft, Alphabet, iRobot, and Amazon. Each of these companies has put forth impressive robots that can do everything from monitoring your home to rescuing wounded soldiers.

They're not alone in their efforts, with startups driving innovation in all sectors as well. For example, Gecko Robotics introduced a selection of wall-climbing robots, industry-leading sensors, and AI systems that help to protect and inspect vital infrastructure. These devices use ultrasonic scanning and other advanced systems to provide real-time insight into critical assets. Already, the firm has robots in use for government, research, and commercial purposes, such as conducting non-destructive testing on boilers, pressure vessels, tanks, piping, and much more.

Geographic Insights

When you examine the robots sector, it's easy to see that there's massive growth potential across all sectors, with the majority of key market players residing in North America. Notably, these firms didn’t end up here by chance. The government put forth much effort to entice more AI robotic operations. Specifically, it allotted $1B towards advancing AI robotic integration into production facilities in 2020 via the Industry 4.0 initiative.

In comparison, Asia is seen by many as a region with massive growth potential. Unlike the US, where the key focuses of the robotics market have been military, home, and comfort sectors, Asian robotic firms have focused on security, delivery, and healthcare.

Robot Ethics

As reliance on AI-powered robots increases, there will be more discussion surrounding the ethical use of these devices. AI is already a part of modern warfare, and killing machines have roamed the sky for over a decade. However, the recent drop in costs and a rise in the availability of AI systems have created a new set of risks to consider. Consequently, robot ethics is now a major concern.

Robotics Will Change Your Life

The continued integration of robotics and AI will lead to more helpful and seamless interactions with your mechanical friends. For now, many exciting ventures are underway that have the potential to upend the market. Soon, AI robots could make your day a lot easier. As such, there's massive earning potential for those who can spot the gems.

David Hamilton is a full-time journalist and a long-time bitcoinist. He specializes in writing articles on the blockchain. His articles have been published in multiple bitcoin publications including Bitcoinlightning.com