Robot Plans

We know about the robot dreams people have…dreams of robot butlers, robot buddies, and general purpose humanoid robot buddies that will eliminate physical labor for humans.

We know about the robot nightmares, too. Those include robotic overlords taking over our jobs and highly biased AI controlling the world.

But a new study shows that people’s actual robot plans have changed.

Robot plans

Peerless Research Group found that 40% of companies surveyed are already using robots at work. Another third plan to bring them in within three years. Only 8% do not intend to use robots in the near future.

That’s a complete reversal from two years ago, when 40% said they had no plans to install robots.

What kind of robots?

The survey was conducted with logistics companies, so nobody was thinking about robotic surgery or sewing. 40% were thinking about loading and unloading robots like Stretch, the mobile industrial robotic arm in Boston Dynamics’ stable.

Picking and packing robots of various kinds were the next most popular, followed by cleaning robots. Quite a few respondents also mentioned robots for carrying and lifting heavy objects.

As usual, the plan is to automate the dirty, dull, and dangerous jobs.

Picking and autonomous data collection are the top current uses of robots.


It appears that most companies have recognized the value of robots. What still stands in the way?

Industrial robots can be expensive, with upfront costs including the robot itself, programming, installation, and maintenance. This can be a significant barrier for smaller companies or those hesitant about the return on investment (ROI).

And indeed, the survey found that one quarter of companies did not have funding or any plans for how to come up with the funds. About a third already hand funds in place and another 44% were working on it, but cost is still a real concern.

There are also still questions about the utility of robots. In a warehouse situation, loading and unloading, picking, and packing are all certainly things that robots can do. In a manufacturing or office setting, things can be less clear.

Robots excel at repetitive, predictable tasks in controlled environments. However, many tasks in various industries are more complex, dynamic, or require human judgment and adaptability. Robots might not be well-suited for these situations.

The widespread use of robots raises questions about ethics and societal impact. Issues like job displacement, potential for bias in algorithms, and responsible development need to be addressed. With robots ubiquitous in many industries and becoming ever more so, it’s time we humans made some decisions.

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