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高齡社會來臨 服務機器人走紅 (2019-07-31 IEK產業情報網 )

With the advancement in sensor technology and algorithms, robots can now overcome many limitations and work alongside humans. In general, robots can be categorized as industrial robots or service robots. Industrial robots aim to enhance product yields by instantaneously improving manufacturing flows. Service robots can be defined as semi-automated or fully-automated, mobile or fixed programmable mechanical devices embedded with sensing, actuation, and computing components. This gives them sensory, responsive, and cognitive capabilities that allow them to independently perform customized services or accomplish tasks by working together with humans.
Thanks to the development of artificial intelligence and electronics technologies, such as sensors, voice recognition, machine vision, and a new generation of communication protocol technologies, a plethora of service robots has emerged over recent years. Japanese corporates and academic institutions have showcased extensive results in robot research. Currently, over 70% of the world’s service robots are from Japan, but the U.S. is catching up rapidly. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and IBM are all competing for dominance by demonstrating the value of artificial intelligence through their robots.
In 2019, technologies regarding service robots will continue to develop with human-machine collaboration, machine learning, humanoid agility, and smart sensors at their cores. In the current market, mainstream applications include robots for minimally invasive surgery in hospitals and vacuum cleaning robots in living environments. Other applications include assistive devices for nursery, medical diagnostics, basic infrastructure inspections, and voice assistance. These service robots benefit humans by reducing occupational hazards, conducting precise and safe surgeries, enabling communication with voice recognition, and ensuring the mobility of physically impaired patients.
If the current development trend for service robots in Japan maintains its pace, the ability for these robots to take care of and accompany the elderly could foster service robots into becoming a mainstream technology with the increasing demand of elderly users.
According to the Industrial Technology Research Institute, service robots have three appeals, i.e. humanoid agility, voice recognition, and emotional cognition. The trends in service robot technology will develop so that: (1) Robots will be able to make judgments, with deep learning to empower their artificial intelligence; (2) Robots will have dexterous limbs. Multiple smart sensors will enable humanoid movability; (3) The next generation of communication protocols will enable more stable communication with robots.
The Industrial Technology Research Institute has also observed early signs of technological developments: the use of Digital Twins enriches the experience of robots, deployment of ROS (robot operating system) enhances the dexterity of robots; and the establishment of artificial intelligence boosts the intelligence of robots. The combination of digital twins and artificial intelligence leads to self-evolution, resulting in a system that enhances its own intelligence. Perception, instantaneous motion control, image processing, positioning, and navigation can all be enabled and integrated through the ROS platform.
Given the increasing commercialization of service robots, deep learning functions and systems become crucial. At this stage, the focus should be on the design and manufacturing of chipsets that are capable of deep-learning, environmental sensing, and constructing high-speed neural network processors. In sum, the integration of heterogeneous chips will be the trend going forward.
Sensing, high-speed computation, and artificial intelligence are the key technologies to meet the requirements for special products and mechanisms in terms of control, electronics, dynamics, and materials. These are the R&D focuses across different domains. It is imperative to develop profitable business models and construct a functional economic ecosystem. The application of service robots involves many social aspects. It is important that the government, corporates, and the public collaborate in the development of an appropriate, sustainable environment for service robots.
The manufacturers in Taiwan have accumulated significant R&D momentum and have been expanding their development into the service industry. The continued aging of society presents an opportunity to develop service robots. It is advised to leverage international resources in the construction of a platform that allows demonstration and applications. Taiwan should also work with leading international players to co-develop standard protocols and testing technologies.
本文原刊載於IEK產業情報網,著作權為工研院產科國際所所有。
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