Robots are speeding up and moving out of controlled environments into homes, hospitals, and other public places. Researchers are also developing advanced artificial intelligence systems that will allow robots to make decisions on their own. The question now is whether India is prepared for such a transition.
In India, robotic technologies are widely used in astronomy, atomic energy, metallurgy, textiles, automotive, and manufacturing industries. It has proven to be a rapidly expanding field, opening up new opportunities in recent years. Many experts believe that robotics is best suited for automation industries such as manufacturing, packaging, and curating. According to research, robotics and automation have the same potential as computer systems to affect significant change in India’s industrial aspects.
In the automation sector, robotics has proven to increase productivity, ensure safety, and improve end product quality while allowing human employees to take on more value-added responsibilities. Furthermore, India’s health sector has begun to extensively use robotic technology in operating rooms and even rehabilitation centres to improve quality of life.
Through their extraordinary abilities in augmenting healthcare, general-purpose robots are establishing their presence in the COVID-19 pandemic. Mitra, a lovable Indian robot, assists COVID-19 patients in making video calls to their families by using its camera and a video screen on its torso. Mitra can move from one patient’s bedside to another automatically.
Another robot from Milagrow, a Gurgaon-based company, is assisting in hospital cleaning and disinfection. These robots are assisting our frontline healthcare workers and reducing their exposure to the deadly virus. Patients and healthcare workers appear to have developed a bond with these robots. Some patients refuse to leave the hospital without taking a selfie with them.
Instead of focusing on robots that are more likely to replace humans at work, Indian policymakers should consider incentivizing robots that help us make our jobs more productive. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has emphasised the possibility of robots replacing humans.
According to a 2016 report, while robots threaten nearly two-thirds of jobs in developing countries, they will also create new job opportunities. Robots will soon be able to help reduce labour costs in manufacturing to the point where industries will be able to re-locate from their current low-labor-cost offshore locations.