AI Robots and Robotics: difference, current examples of artificially intelligent robots, and role of software robots

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics are two of the fastest growing technologies in the world right now. Their rise is so intertwined with each other that they often get confused for being the same. However, AI robots and robotics are not only distinct but demonstrate the need to better understand the difference between the two fields.

Robots may replace about 800 million jobs globally in the future and are tipped to make about 30 per cent of all occupations irrelevant. With only 7 per cent of businesses not using AI currently, it is important to not only follow these two fields but also understand them better. Here is a deep dive on AI robots and robotics.

What are AI robots and Robotics?

AI robots are all the artificial agents acting in the real-world environment. These real-world AI agents are designed to manipulate objects by perceiving, picking, moving, or destroying them. In simplest terms, an AI robot is a bridge between robotics and AI, and is controlled using a range of AI programs.

Robotics, on the other hand, refers to the field of study designed to learn, understand, and develop new knowledge about different kinds of robots. This includes mechanical and electrical engineering as well as the software engineering of physical robots.

A lot of people often wonder if robotics is a subset of artificial intelligence and vice versa. In reality, they both serve very different purposes and can be made to work together to achieve a product vision or complete a task. Google, for instance, is experimenting with a mobile robot which has an AI brain.

If you draw a Venn diagram of the two fields – artificial intelligence and robotics – then the area where the two fields overlap will be described as artificially intelligent robots. This overlap has now come to confuse the two concepts bringing about a major change in technology.

What are the current examples of AI Robots?

There are a number of AI robot designs being deployed in the real world for a variety of purposes and applications. Some of the most common examples of these robots are listed below. While these robots can be described as AI agents, they are dependent on current approximation of AI.

  • Digit: Digit is a humanoid bipedal robot capable of traversing complicated terrain and delivering packages. Designed by Agility Robotics, Digit is claimed to carry up to 40 lbs and can climb stairs, catch itself during a fall, and plan footsteps. It has an onboard control system, uses API to enable wireless control, and has a modular design to allow increased CPU capacity.
  • Atlas and Spot: The two most popular AI robots in the world are Atlas and Spot designed by Boston Dynamics, the current leader in AI robotics. Atlas weighs over 170 lbs and can jog, jump, run, somersault, and even backflip. Spot is a commercial quadrupedal robot that automates inspection, sensing, and data collection in a variety of settings. Both these robots are by far the most life-like AI robots in the market.
  • HRP-5P: Developed by Japan’s Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), HRP-5P is a robot designed to build things. It is capable of using power tools, carrying heavy weights, and can even perform heavy labour autonomously in hazardous environments. HRP-5 was mainly developed to help Japan’s ageing population with construction tasks and supports features such as object recognition.
  • Aquanaut: Aquanaut is an unmanned underwater transforming submersible with abilities to perform long-distance manipulation tasks. It can travel over 200km while in submersible mode and has a maximum operating depth of 300 metres.
  • Sophia: Sophia actually flips the script on the idea of AI robots with a robot being built to resemble the human as much as possible. Sophia is widely considered as the world’s first robot citizen and the first robot ambassador. Sophia uses a unique combination of neural networks, machine perception, conversational natural language processing, adaptive motor control, and cognitive architecture. She even has a human face to express her own emotions.
  • Others: Apart from Spot and Atlas from Boston Dynamics, Tesla has now announced its own AI robot called Optimus. With Optimus, Tesla aims to deliver a true humanoid robot with cognitive capabilities. Amazon has its own robots for its assortment facility while Miso Robotics introduced Flippy as the world’s first AI kitchen assistant.

Why are software robots not called robots?

Software robots are a type of computer program which autonomously operates to complete virtual tasks. The examples of software robots include search engine robots such as web crawlers, robotic process automation (RPA), and chatbots that offer pre-defined responses to a text query.

These software robots are not physical robots and they only exist in a digital device like a computer or a smartphone. As a result, they are not real robots and are not part of robotics. Some of the advanced software robots may even include AI algorithms.

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2048 1080 Editorial Staff
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