AI Robots Rolling Out in Industry: Which Sectors Benefit Most?

Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are similar but distinct technologies. While robots automate physical processes, AI can automate digital and more dynamic ones. However, these two technologies are starting to come together, and AI robots could dramatically impact several industries.


How Artificial Intelligence Changes Robotics

AI robotics brings the flexibility, intelligence and learning capabilities of AI to physical machines. As a result, robots can reach new levels of autonomy, being able to adjust to new conditions without human input. Similarly, AI robotics opens the door for more versatile automation, enabling a single robot to accomplish a wide range of tasks without reprogramming.


With conventional robots, companies often sacrifice flexibility for productivity, sometimes to the extent that automation doesn’t yield a net improvement. Combining artificial intelligence and robots provides a solution to that barrier. Businesses can experience all the efficiency gains of robotics while AI ensures they can learn new processes and adapt to new information.


AI can also make standard robotic processes more reliable. Machine vision — a subset of AI — can give robots sight, helping them accomplish navigational or organizational tasks more accurately. While these shifts may be less dramatic than a robot that can adapt like a human employee, they still produce important benefits.


Industries Likely to Benefit Most from AI Robots

Many sectors will benefit from the advent of AI robots, but some have more to gain than others. Here are six of the industries most likely to see the most significant benefits from AI robots.


1. Warehousing and Logistics

Manufacturing has been the leading use case for conventional robotics for decades, but it’s not necessarily the biggest application for AI robots. Industrial sectors like warehousing and logistics with less predictable workflows can benefit more.


Warehouse workflows like picking, sorting and material moving are repetitive, physically strenuous and time-consuming, so they’re not ideal for manual work. However, since demand and inventory levels and locations shift regularly, conventional automation isn’t always a viable solution. Adaptable, AI-powered robots can overcome that barrier.


Early AI robotics projects have helped some warehouses save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually through reduced labor and floor space costs. As supply chain demands rise and warehouse labor becomes increasingly difficult to secure, this technology will become all the more valuable.


2. Health Care

The medical field is another industry where robotic implementation has previously been limited or impractical. Robots in health care have mostly taken the form of remote-controlled surgery machines, which, while helpful, offer suboptimal productivity savings because they rely on human input.


AI robots could let hospitals employ fully autonomous machines. These robots won’t likely handle surgery in place of human surgeons, but they can check in on patients and perform early diagnoses. Automating these tasks would help medical professionals spend more time with patients, reducing hospital wait times.


AI may also spot some conditions years before doctors could detect them, as it can pick up on signals too small for humans to notice. Consequently, bridging artificial intelligence and robots in health care could lead to earlier responses, improving patient outcomes.


3. Waste Management

The recycling industry also requires a high level of accuracy, one that humans struggle to meet. Sorting recyclable items from those destined for a landfill can be challenging, especially when considering multiple tiers of recyclability. It’s also not the sort of work people typically enjoy, making it a prime candidate for automation.


Robots must identify recyclable waste and sort it accordingly in a short time frame with a high degree of accuracy to be viable in this sector. Machine vision systems enable those improvements.


AI object recognition lets robotic sorting equipment see and move recyclables from waste streams faster and more accurately than humans. As environmental initiatives ramp up, these optimized waste management processes will become increasingly important.


4. Construction

Waste management needs automation’s speed, but conventional robots’ lack of object recognition abilities has limited improvements. In the same way, construction can benefit from automation’s safety potential, but traditional robots aren’t flexible enough to be practical.


The construction industry experiences the most workplace fatalities of any sector, so safety improvements are essential. However, worksites can be unpredictable and vary widely from project to project. AI robots can succeed where conventional alternatives fail, using past knowledge and new data to adapt to these varying scenarios.


Once robots are more adaptable, construction crews can use them to handle the most dangerous tasks to separate humans from their biggest hazards. This automation would also help overcome persistent labor shortages as demand rises.


5. Restaurants

Similarly, the restaurant industry can benefit heavily from automation but has remained largely manual over the years. As artificial intelligence makes robots more flexible and easier for humans to work alongside, that’s starting to change.


Restaurants face significant staffing shortages, so robots are an important part of meeting demand. However, these machines must be able to adapt to menu changes and inconsistencies in ingredients and work safely alongside human employees in tight spaces. AI’s flexibility and functions like machine vision let them do just that.


Robots may be unable to replace the human connection patrons feel when talking to servers, hosts and other employees, but they’re a good fit for behind-the-scenes work. Bots can clean and even cook while human workers oversee duties or interact with customers so restaurants reach their full productive potential.


6. Security and Defense

Security teams often face staffing issues as it’s hard for a small crew to effectively cover a wide area. AI robots can fill the gaps where human security forces are stretched thin, improving public safety.


Computer vision lets these robots navigate safely, while machine learning helps them distinguish between actual emergencies and false alarms. Natural language processing (NLP) could even let them communicate with people to get a better understanding of a situation.


When these robots detect an issue, they can alert human responders of the problem and its exact location, informing faster responses. They can also handle some situations entirely on their own, like directing people or offering some basic first aid equipment.


AI Robots Will Change Many Industries

These six industries are just a sampling of those AI robots will change, but they’ll see more disruption than most others. As artificial intelligence pushes robotics even further, new possibilities and use cases will emerge. Sectors that capitalize on that potential will dramatically change for the better.


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