Social Robots: Assistants of Today and Tomorrow

Modern human life is making extensive use of technology. We have become a tangled mess of smartphones, social media posts, latest laptops and smart homes. All these technological developments are now an important part of our lives. Advancements in science and technology have forever altered our perception of life. Among these advancements, breakthrough in the adoption of automated machines known as robots, have played a significant role by sharing work and solving most of our day-to-day problems.

Being liberated from domestic chores such as cleaning, ironing, cooking or mowing the lawn from time-to-time has been a blessing. Robots that provide services on a day-to-day basis are employed by humans for their precision and endless energy, to perform tasks productively, that, when performed by humans, have a tendency to develop imperfections. The 21st century still offers plenty of technological advances in the machine world that can make our lives easier.
Such advancements in technology have affected our working lives, e.g., washing machines have made cleaning clothes less strenuous so that today, we do not need to spend hours at the washboard and the wringer. But experts believe that the coming age of Artificial Intelligence (AI ) will go on to mark a new chapter in the history of work.
There is no doubt that technology has numerous benefits, but it is imperative that moderation and focus are kept in balance so that technology does not dictate our lives. Let us shed some light on technological advancement in the field of robotics to see how robots can perform different tasks to make life easy for us.

Therapy Robots
Therapy robots have already been introduced in classrooms to help children who suffer from autism. They help such individuals to learn social skills, but they are also used to help children who are not on the spectrum to assist them in learning art and other subjects. I came across Nao robots being used for research, education and entertainment, at Headstart School, Kuri Campus. Another project carried out by the Academic Behavioral Support (ABIS) team at Headstart School regarding was adopted in collaboration with Department of Innovative Technologies in Education at NUST, in June 2016. Picture Autism and NUST collaborated to develop different apps for children with autism.
Therapy robots have been used by behavioral therapists and instructors known as the Academic Behavioral Intervention Support Team that work closely with students in the Primary Years Programme (PYP). They offer services that cater to children with learning and behavioral challenges and are adjusted to their needs. The program introduced Nao robots to interact with children in a friendly environment to make a difference in learning. The robot is individually programmed to interact with these children to perform activities which will not only help them in socializing but also providing them with physical and mental strength.
The main objective of an interactive play intervention between a robot and an autistic child is to draw social collaborative behaviors between them. In addition to these activities, it will also highlight improvements in the overall response of the child’s joint attention, eye contact and the way he or she communicates.

Telepresence Robots
Any woman, be it a working mother or a house wife have to juggle multiple tasks. There are times when they have to stay for long hours away from home. Telepresence robots may help place ‘them’ at a remote location instantly, providing them a virtual presence and can be used to provide them a pair of mobile ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’, enabling them to have a remote presence at any location with an internet connection.

Farming Robots
If you run your kitchen garden and are fond for organic food, then Farming robots are perfect for you to plant seeds, water them on a schedule, monitor their growth and destroy weeds. You need to have the application and arrange your plants in the desired configuration, and the robot does the rest. There are smart sprinkler systems which can monitor weather and soil conditions to figure out just how much water each plant requires at any given time, and distribute it accordingly. One cloud-connected sprinkler system claims to lower garden water consumption by 90%.

Domestic Robots
Domestic robots have changed the future of how we run our homes. Smart home hubs have allowed us to set specific schedules such as turning the lights on/off. Apart from this, they can be connected to various household products like the thermostat, smoke alarms, sound systems and security systems. Introduction to recent technology, like voice activated 
hubs, has further enabled us to connect with advanced smart devices via Bluetooth and other connections, allowing a lot of control over a vast array of functions and access a variety of information.

Carrying Our Groceries
Grocery shopping has been a part of our life and it has always been a hassle to carry all that load. In 2017, a popular personal vehicle manufacturer came out with a robot butler like a hover board, it had the ability of facial and speech recognition to navigate autonomously and more. The best part is that it can carry things for us, taking grocery bags from the car to the kitchen.

Robots That Socialize
Interaction and socializing is very important for predicting the physical health and well-being of everyone. Loneliness has been a social issue and a public health concern for many years. Social isolation has been as risky as any other health issue, including smoking or obesity. However, building a community is never easy. For people who are unable to get out of the house easily, there are robots that act like pet animals, including interactive dogs, cats, and seals, that make real animal sounds and respond to any action by humans. Other robots are specifically designed for aged people who live alone to remind them of appointments and help them to connect to video-chat programs and social media.

Pill-Dispensing Robot
Great advancements have been made in health robots that can help us feel better, even if we are not good at remembering our medications. One pill-dispensing robot was introduced in 2017 that can hook up to our activity trackers.
Robots can perform multiple tasks on a much faster pace than humans with more precision. Robots are designed to work under harsh environments but even robots have limitations as they can never produce results outside of their predefined programming. We need to learn the importance determining a balance in order to use robots to help us. HH

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