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We are all surrounded by robots. Don’t believe that? Well, look around and observe. The vacuum cleaner that you use for cleaning the house is a robot, the elevator car you used to climb floors is also a robot and don’t forget the dryer that helped you dry your clothes was a robot too. 

Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash

To better understand what a robot is, have a look at this definition of robot proposed by IEEE. According to it, a robot is a device that:

  1. Receives an objective
  2. Senses its environment
  3. Takes an action
  4. Achieves its objective

Now take the example of a car elevator. When a person calls the elevator, it receives the objective of reaching that floor safely, and in order to reach that floor, the elevator senses things like cable length and the drum rotation. In the next step, the elevator takes action and starts moving to the called floor by varying the electric current, and consequently, it reaches its destination. Hence, the car elevator is a perfect example of a robot. Similarly, the welding robots receive an objective, sense environment and take action to achieve the results. These are only two examples explained here. However, if analyzed, we can see that most of the electronic and mechanical systems work on this same principle. 

Having read this definition, you can see that unlike what the movies show, robots are more like devices that we already know: Glass cleaning devices, smart vacuums, Virtual assistants on mobile phones, etc.

So, today, we want to take a short tour of the robots that already surround us and that perhaps we do not perceive as we get used to their use and existence.

On the phone:

Virtual assistants on our phones, such as Siri or Google Now, are the great benchmark for how artificial intelligence will continue to enter our lives. These assistants have been incorporated into our daily life in a very natural way, but if someone had told us a few years ago that our phone was going to be able to speak to us, we would believe that it would only be a fantasy… and today it happens.

These systems can talk to users, search Internet pages for them, tell jokes, search for gas stations or restaurants, solve some problems and even learn routines such as leaving and commuting between home and office. They can even warn us of a traffic jam so that we can take another path and thus productivity also increases.

The recognition of the voice of the user is something relatively new and is the most important thing in this technology. Although it is not always right, it has achieved a high level of success in the orders given by the user, and every day this level rises even more.

In our houses:

In the house, we use so many robots such as lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners, and smart glass cleaners that detect dirt and decide how many times it should be cleaned or with which area to start. 

Another example of a robot being used at home is smart television or Smart TV, which incorporates programming software from which it can learn the user’s tastes and suggest programs or GPS’S that program routes according to frequent routes of the user. These capabilities provided by programming algorithms are called artificial intelligence.

Also, the use of robots and artificial intelligence in the house equipment goes further. For example, we can already find alert systems through text messages that indicate when an alarm has been activated or deactivated. Additionally, there are refrigerators that can warn through WhatsApp that there is no milk, washing machines that indicate when these must be connected or disconnected to save water, heating, or cooling systems that can be programmed from the cell phone or kitchen technology that also saves energy.

The key to the success of these appliances is their ability to follow voice instructions. This means that we can talk to them through virtual assistants, for example, order a stove to heat up or stop heating at a certain time.

Now that we are already surrounded by robots, what should we expect next? Certainly improvements in their functions. For instance, we can have better sensors such as lidar that provide robots the ability to comprehend instructions more accurately. However, even after all these advancements, robots remain human manufactured machines that are built to facilitate humans.