Robots in Smart cities
Robots could be thought of as the “hands” or “effectors” of the smart city, influencing the surroundings to provide services. In cities across the US, Europe, Scandinavia, and China, robots are already frequently used to carry goods like food and medications by land and air. Robots could have direct interactions with people, such helping robots in homes or as part of corporate activities in metropolitan settings. Building new structures, examining and maintaining existing infrastructure, and modifying resource availability and usage patterns are all ways that robots could help shape the city. There may be a small number of urban activities that are unaffected by the presence of robots.
Using the communications network in the Smart City, robots may exchange data and perform tasks they couldn’t otherwise. Robots, for instance, can use knowledge about the larger environment to supplement the local sensor data they get to make better decisions and allocate resources. Robots might be used to collect data from sensors that lack connectivity by driving around the city and doing so, possibly while completing other activities. Robots can also acquire data to support other operations, either overtly, as in the case of police helicopter replacements by drones that are less obtrusive and resource-hungry, or implicitly as a byproduct of their operation as they carry out their assigned jobs.
However, robots won’t simply passively fit into our current urban planning strategies. With the aid of current technologies, the spaces in our cities are created and developed to support the activities of citizens and other stakeholders. Mews were replaced with tram yards, bus
depots, and then multi-story parking garages. Without a question, robots will alter the way we plan our cities. Concern over the possibility of robots using sidewalks meant for human walkers has already been expressed in the UK. According to simulations of the effects of ride-sharing in driverless vehicles, the need for parking in urban areas will drop by up to 90%. Other uses for this area are possible. Introducing robots into smart cities will alter how we use our urban areas and interact with one another. In order to keep these places livable, planners and architects will surely be required to broaden the viewpoints of robotic developers and designers (Studley & Little, 2021).
Nowadays, there are many examples of robots in smart cities.
The O-R3 in Singapore
In Singapore, the government has deployed a robot named “O-R3” to help monitor public areas and enforce social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. O-R3 is a self-driving robot developed by a local tech company called Otsaw Digital, and it uses sensors and cameras to detect and identify objects and people.
The robot is equipped with a loudspeaker and a screen that displays messages to remind people to keep a safe distance from each other. It can also take temperatures and scan people’s faces to check if they are wearing masks, and it can alert human operators if it detects any suspicious behavior.
O-R3 operates autonomously and can cover up to 15 km per day, allowing it to patrol public areas such as parks, shopping malls, and tourist attractions. The robot is part of a broader effort by the Singapore government to use technology to combat the spread of COVID-19 and ensure public safety. Overall, O-R3 is an example of how robots can be used in a smart city to improve public safety and enforce social distancing measures during a pandemic.
Japan’s first robot that follows pedestrian crossing signals
The new headquarters of SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) are located in the Takeshiba district of Tokyo, an area designated as a National Strategic Special Zone by the Japanese government for the testing and development of cutting-edge technologies. In Takeshiba, various robotics initiatives are underway to realize the region’s smart city concept.
An example is the tests conducted by SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) and the large Japanese transport company Sagawa Express Co.,Ltd. for delivery robots that follow traffic lights when carrying packages on public sidewalks.
SoftBank and Sagawa Express held a demonstration in May 2021 of their self-driving robot. The robot’s route was about 125 meters long on a public road that surrounds the perimeter of SoftBank’s headquarters. At the beginning of the test, the robot left the building with a package and proceeded on a video crosswalk to reach its destination.
Passing between pedestrians and vehicles, the robot kept a distance of about 1.5 meters from the edge of the pavement, avoiding planted trees and Braille signs for visually impaired pedestrians. The robot—equipped with several Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors and cameras used in self-driving applications to detect pedestrians and obstacles—repeatedly slowed and stopped and moved in sync with traffic light signals at crosswalks.
The robot developed by SoftBank moved along the pavement at a maximum speed of 3.6 km/h. The color signals of the traffic lights were transmitted to a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) circuit board on the street and to an IoT router, and this information was transmitted via LTE wireless connections to the robot via the cloud.
After safely crossing the street, the robot arrived at its destination with its package intact.
Kiwibot delivery service
Kiwibot is a delivery robot company based in California that offers autonomous delivery services to businesses, universities, and other organizations. Here is a detailed description of the services that Kiwibot provides:
- Food and Retail Delivery: Kiwibot partners with local restaurants and retailers to offer autonomous delivery services to their customers. Customers can place orders through the Kiwibot app or the restaurant’s own ordering platform, and the robot will deliver the food or retail items directly to their location. Kiwibot can carry up to 30 pounds of cargo, which is enough for several orders at once.
- Campus Delivery: Kiwibot works with universities and other large campuses to offer delivery services for students, faculty, and staff. The robots can be used to deliver food, beverages, books, and other items directly to dorms, offices, or other locations on campus. Kiwibot can navigate complex environments such as campus walkways, parking lots, and pedestrian areas.
- Contactless Delivery: Kiwibot’s autonomous delivery service is contactless, meaning there is no need for human-to-human interaction. This makes it a safe and convenient option for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for those who prefer to avoid contact with delivery drivers for other reasons.
- Smart City Integration: Kiwibot is designed to integrate with smart city infrastructure, such as traffic signals, crosswalks, and other sensors. This allows the robot to navigate busy urban environments and avoid obstacles such as pedestrians and vehicles. Kiwibot also uses real-time data and analytics to optimize its delivery routes and improve efficiency.
- Environmental Sustainability: Kiwibot’s delivery service is environmentally sustainable, as the robots are powered by electric batteries and emit no greenhouse gases. The robots are also designed to be highly durable and reusable, which reduces waste and promotes a circular economy.
Overall, Kiwibot’s autonomous delivery services offer a safe, convenient, and environmentally sustainable option for businesses, universities, and other organizations. By using advanced robotics technology, Kiwibot is helping to shape the future of delivery services in smart cities around the world.
USA are using robots for recycling
Recycling companies in the US are turning to robots to help solve the country’s recycling crisis. Recycling companies are struggling with contaminated waste streams and low-value recyclables, which is making it harder to make a profit from recycling.
One company, AMP Robotics, has developed a robotic system that can sort through waste and separate out recyclables based on their material type. The system uses machine learning algorithms to learn how to identify different types of materials and can operate 24/7 without breaks, increasing the efficiency of the recycling process. The robots can also improve safety conditions for workers by taking on the dangerous task of sorting through sharp or hazardous materials. Another company, Bulk Handling Systems, has developed a robot called Max-AI that uses artificial intelligence to recognize and sort materials. Max-AI can also learn from its mistakes and adapt to new materials, making it a versatile solution for recycling companies.
The use of robots in the recycling industry has several benefits. It can improve the quality of recyclables by reducing contamination, increase the efficiency of the recycling process, and improve the safety of workers. Additionally, the use of robots can help to reduce the environmental impact of the recycling process by decreasing the amount of waste sent to landfills. However, there are also some challenges to using robots in recycling. The initial cost of implementing the technology can be high, and it can be difficult to integrate new systems with existing infrastructure. Additionally, there is concern that the use of robots in recycling could lead to job losses for workers who previously sorted materials by hand (Bogue, 2019).
Studley, M. E., & Little, H. (2021). Robots in smart cities. In How Smart Is Your City? (pp. 75-88). Springer, Cham.
Bogue, R. (2019). Robots in recycling and disassembly. Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application.