Expert Speak

Robotics in Business: How Business-Oriented Robots Look Like

Written by Pavel Tatarintsev, the Technical Director at NNTC

Robots, looking as we usually imagine them or see in movies – androids or other humanlike robots – still are on their way to wide use in our business and private life. For now, they are mostly engaged in promotion and entertainment at public events and conferences. Needless to say, they get the wow effect, but still, are of little use to a business.

Nevertheless, developers managed to delegate some tasks to machines, such as security, control, and medical services. In practice, robots essentially automate jobs that people do and conduct many functions which would typically be performed by people. These are free-standing terminals or devices powered by certain software and imitating people’s actions.

One of the most remarkable achievements here is health check terminals automating pre-shift, pre-trip, and other medical examinations. These devices test blood pressure, stress level, alcohol or other intoxication, as well as blood oxygen level, which makes them desirable at large and advanced manufacturing enterprises where many people pass through entry checkpoints, with only one medical officer being there to check their health before hard and dangerous work.

Each medical examination takes a few seconds at best, and to err is human, so slips happen all the time. Facts are stubborn things: according to statistics of The Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), Public Health Division, Health Statistics Analysis, occupational accident followed by death make up 3.9% (129 cases) of all death cases in Abu Dhabi. Death rates are particularly high in the fields of construction, manufacturing, transportation, and communications.

For comparison, the number of deaths recorded by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development of Bahrain as a result of work accidents amounted to 27 within the first half of 2018. According to another source, the most serious accidents were caused by falling from the top of the scaffolding. A good case to make the point is an access control system examining employees at checkpoints. The robot’s task is simple – quick and adequate health check.

In case of deviations, the gate won’t open, and the employee will be instructed to visit a medical officer who in turn, examines ten people instead of a hundred. This allows more time for a quality check – work smarter, not harder. Pictures, videos, check-in time, and express testing results are stored after every examination.

Such a robot can comprise a comprehensive health check set including a blood pressure meter, a pulse oximeter, a pupillometer, and a breathalyzer. For example, a pupillometer says, whether an employee is all there or not, so to speak. This device recognizes exhaustion, slow CNS response to a visual stimulus, and any substance affecting reaction and both physical and mental state in general, like drugs or drinks.

Another robotics case study is drones, which are extensively used to assist in security matters at large-scale sites, in malfunction diagnostics at power lines, oil and gas trunk pipelines. Drones are multifunctional devices. Currently, field specialists are largely enthusiastic about their use for video monitoring, search and rescue operations, and incidents investigation. Flying cameras (drone with a camera) are needed in cities and special services centers for situation analysis.

So far, a drone operator – a person out in the field – has transmitted data to colleagues from the headquarters typically using voice or text messages. Today, the market offers drone control systems. This allows drone operators in the field to create a flight assignment and receive telemetry data and video right on the fly.

Meanwhile, a command center operator can see the location of either one drone or a whole pack of them on a 3D map, stream the video from a particular drone and even remotely manipulate the camera with a joystick. Two levels are connected by communication channels (for example, LTE).
Specific technology has been developed and used to integrate commercially available drones with existing situation centers.

A combination of aerial video shooting, remote camera control, and video analytics systems helps emergency operations and dispatch control centers obtain comprehensive information, assess the emergency scale and coordinate team activities. Of course, the look of these robot assistants is far from humanlike, but such robot-based solutions greatly facilitate a smooth run of a business, where the human error has always been the number one cause of unanticipated expenses. No matter how good robots are, they only act as the eyes and hands of humans who still are responsible for decision-making in every particular situation.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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