Over the last recent years, we are hearing a lot about Artificial Intelligent and Robotics in many forms of media. Huge headlines about the advancement of AI & Robots and their applications are covering the news. We can not ignore the threats expressed by many researchers and experts about the possibilities for massive unemployment that AI & Robots can create in the future. But there are some good news reports appear from time to time about the huge opportunities for new jobs and investments that are been generated by the rise of such technology.
Looking at those news reports and articles, the two terms, AI and Robots; are mentioned together most of the time as they are linked to each other. It has created confusion for many people who are not experts in the field, resulting in making a wide belief that that AI and robots are the same things. Some people think that robots will have to include an AI system or smart algorithm in order to be operational
However, Artificial Intelligence or AI can stand alone by itself. We can see many articles and reports in the media about AI and its applications without the mentioning of Robots. Since AI is widely used in many daily used technologies, such as Smartphones Apps and internet websites; AI is well known and easily understandable for many people. But on the other hand, Robotic is not clear for many and even considered as a part of AI like smartphone apps.
So why AI is dominating over the Robotics field?
Definition of each term
To make things clear, first, we need to define the Robot and Artificial Intelligence. The Robot is simply described as a machine or a device that is capable of performing a specified task. Where Artificial Intelligence is a program or a computer system that can perform a task with a high ability similar to a human's abilities. So simply we can define a Robot as a mechanical device with a Software program and Artificial Intelligence as a Software program only.
Robotics is an intersection of three major fields of technology:
Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Any robotic specialist must have the basic knowledge and skills of those three majors. Generally, a robotic specialist has a deeper knowledge and skills in one of these majors such as mechanical design, sensor developments, and software programming. Therefore, we can find that most of the robotic specialists will have a background in one of these majors. Sometimes, there are cases of people in the robotic field with a background in a different major such as physics, social science or even civil engineering.
The Development of the Robot Technology
The robot development consists of improving the performance of the robots system and implementing robots into new applications. The development could be conducted by designing new mechanisms, developing new electronic circuits or sensors, and developing a new program algorithm. We can find different professionals and companies that are contributing to robot development through one or more of the above majors.
Looking at the people who are working in the mechanical domain, we find that some of the companies are focusing on the design and development of new robot hardware such as Kawasaki and Fanuc that product industrial robots and SoftBank that product Humanoid robots. On top of that, electronic components are added and integrated into some robots' platforms based on the system and application requirements. So one robot platform can be used for many robot systems based on the integrated components to the system. Therefore, we can find that the number of specialists working in electrical and electronics is much larger than specialists working in mechanical.
Robot programming and algorithm development are very common for robot system development. This is due to the simplicity and low cost of software development. If we compare the effort and cost to focus on robot programming with hardware development, we can easily find that the amount of development made by software development is quite large. Therefore, there is a huge number of people with Computer science skills who are working on robot development activities. A fewer number are working on electronics and much fewer in the mechanical domain.
The rise of Artificial Intelligence and its application
In the last decade, we start seeing the rise of Artificial Intelligence in many applications. Robotic is one of those applications where AI finds its way. There is an increasing number of companies that are developing AI algorithms for the robot system. Generally, those companies are using some robot platform such as Pepper (from Softbank Robotics) or an integrated system that include a robot manipulator. There is a huge demand for robots to perform tasks that require human interaction or operating in a dynamic changing environment. This has given many opportunities for startups to develop new robot systems with the help of AI technology to satisfy the required demands.
The rise of the robot startups has covered many media headlines about the rise of smart robots and their applications. Such a huge number of headlines had made a shadow of AI development over robot technology development. And since most of the media channels are targeting the general public who are not familiar with robot technology, it might cause a misunderstanding for many people about the relationship between robot & AI and their differences. And this might be the main reason for the dilemma that many people are facing in their understanding of the relation between Robots and AI.
We can take note that Robotics and Artificial Intelligence are two separate fields of technology but with some intersecting applications. With the rise of robots usages in the humans' environment, robots will have to be more intelligent to deal with a variety of tasks and scenarios. Therefore, a lot of AI systems will be implemented into robot systems. However, we should not forget the importance of hardware development which is the core of having a real existing robot.