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What Role Will Intelligent Robots Play in the Future of Home Automation

May 25, 2017

When someone asks you about robots, you may immediately imagine a humanoid mechanical contraption that has a rusty look or is indistinguishable from actual human beings. Robots are mechanical machines, but they do not usually have humanoid form in most cases.

For example, your Roomba vacuum cleaner is a robot, and the fighting Robots in the popular game show Robot Wars are Robots. As artificial intelligence continues to advance, robots like these will be a common feature in your home, and they will be much more intelligent.

Watson

One of the most significant accomplishments in AI in the last decade is with IBM’s Watson. Watson is a supercomputer that runs on sophisticated artificial intelligence and analytical software that allows it to answer questions. People often know it as the Jeopardy winning “Question Answering Machine” but what they don’t realize is that it is the core technology for Alexa, Siri, and Cortana.

Watson can sift through the complex contextual and semantic variations of English to deliver an answer that is most likely to be correct. It is this ability to recognize questions and provide answers that might help robot developers create machines that can easily communicate intelligently with you using natural language.

But robot developers will also have to consider the number of tasks a single robot can do. Robots that currently exist can hardly understand natural language and have to be pre-programmed to carry out simple tasks. For instance, Roomba is limited in functionality because it has only been programmed to do a single task. It also lacks the ability to navigate a home based on location and cannot build an awareness of an exact location.

Experts believe that tools like ultra wide-band radio will make it easy for robots to map out their location in a home. They will then be able to know where they are supposed to clean, where they not supposed to go to, where to expect items like a doorway or an item it needs to fetch and so on.

The ability to “learn” their location will also make it easier for them to carry out complicated tasks. For instance, patrol the house to make sure it is secure; fill the cat’s dish if it detects it’s empty or detecting whether you are in the living room before deciding to vacuum it. Remember that these robots will include both humanoid robots and the ones that are just functional in shape or form. You will also be able to monitor the robot using your smartphone, which will also help you give it instructions on what to do next. Imagine a robot being part of your “sleep tight” scene on the IFTTT app.

Challenge Accepted

Several companies are working on helping robots surpass these challenges that prevent them from communicating intelligently or move seamlessly. One secretive AI non-profit, OpenAI, funded by Elon Musk and his fellow billionaires is working on exactly that. They are reprogramming robots designed to help out in warehouses (like those in Amazon Warehouses) to learn to do household chores. They are adding software to the robots that will help them train themselves through trial and error. The robots they are using are the ones by Fetch Robotics.

They range from robots that can follow you around taking instructions to ones that can carry items dropped in a basket. They all have a humanoid appearance because they have what could be described as a head and a torso. These robots are very common in factories and warehouses and have been around for some time, but they are yet to become helpers in your home.

Experts and futurists are predicting that in the next few decades robots will be in every household. They believe that these robots will be integrated with other smart devices within a home. They will help in managing the home while at the same time doing manual tasks.

There are also some experts who believe that we will not necessarily have robots in the house, but the house itself will be the robot. A future home will have a “brain” and will control and manage every system within it easily. It will learn your habits, your preferences, your dislikes and then respond accordingly. It is a future that is scary and exciting at the same time. For more information about home automation, please visit our website.

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