6 Service Robot Questions to Be Answered at CES 2019

Toyota's Human Service Robot. Source: Toyota

December 13, 2018      

For the past few years, Robotics Business Review and RoboBusiness have hosted conferences as part of the International Consumer Electronics Show. We’ve presented panels around social robots, mobile platforms and drones, and autonomous vehicles. Last year’s track on artificial intelligence was standing room only, and this coming January, we invite you to our sessions on “Service Robotics Arrive in Daily Life!” Consumer buyers, businesses, and investors should bring their service robot questions for our experts to answer.

RBR’s service robot track will be from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Room N262 of the North Hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Veterans know to give plenty of time to get where they’re going, because more than 180,000 people attended last year’s show, and CES 2019 promises to be big.

The service robot category encompasses autonomous devices that cook food, clean homes, and cater to shoppers. They are not just toys; such robots are already starting to change healthcare, and public expectations are high for general-purpose robots. Here are some questions that our sessions will address:

1. What’s the current state of the service robot?

Despite the slow growth of robotics in the consumer market (in comparison with industrial automation) and troubles for Jibo and Mayfield this past year, the International Federation of Robotics predicted global sales of “service robots for personal and domestic use” will grow from $2.2 billion in 2015 to $22 billion by 2019.

In our opening session, Robotics Business Review editors Eugene Demaitre and Keith Shaw will describe the state of the market, debunk common misconceptions, and examine technologies and use cases.

The editors will be joined by a leader at a major multinational investor and innovator in service robotics. Attendees can learn from perspective on the work being done to bring robots into our daily lives.

Service robots include the iRobot Roomba and Braava

iRobot’s Roomba vacuum and Braava mopping robot are household examples of service robots.

2. When can I get a robot to do more household chores?

iRobot’s Roomba is the best-known domestic robot, with more than 20 million units worldwide. As its robotic vacuums have faced increasing competition, iRobot has added features to stay ahead. If you don’t want to mow your lawn, shovel snow, or clean your bathroom, odds are that there will soon be a machine to help you.

Personal robots such as Misty and Vector are growing in intelligence — as is the Roomba. Caitlyn Clabaugh, a professor at the University of Southern California, will moderate this session featuring technology leaders from Anki, Misty Robotics, Quartz, and iRobot.

3. Why would I want a service robot to prepare my meals?

Robots are already helping to process food efficiently from farm to kitchen, and automation is starting to emerge in coffee shops, burger joints, and restaurants. Adding a service robot to the line isn’t just about mitigating worker shortages or maintaining sanitation. It’s also about enhancing the dining experience and improving options.

Shaw will moderate this CES panel, which will include executives from Café X, Miso Robotics, Nourish Technology, and The Wilkinson Group. Your next cup of coffee or loaf of fresh bread could be healthier and have a lighter environmental impact thanks to a service robot.

Simbe Robotics Schnucks Markets shelf-scanning robot

The Tally robot takes inventory. Source: Simbe Robotics

4. How are robots transforming retail?

Speaking of the customer experience, service robots could help brick-and-mortar shops compete with the convenience of online shopping. They can relieve workers of the tedium of taking inventory, improve backroom functions, direct consumers to products, and share observations of shopper behavior with retailers.

Erin Rapacki of Machine InBound will lead this service robot discussion among experts from Rubikloud, Soft Robotics, and SoftBank Robotics.

5. Who can benefit from robot helpers and caregivers?

With aging populations around the world, shortages of healthcare workers, and improving understanding of special needs, the demand for therapeutic and assistive technology is growing. As human-machine interaction becomes more sophisticated, a service robot is more than a virtual assistant or a companion; it’s a way to help people help themselves.

Shaw will speak with executives and healthcare experts from Diligent Robotics, OhmniLabs, RoboKind, and the Social Communication Connection.

SoftBank's Pepper service robot

SoftBank’s Pepper is a leading example of a humanoid service robot.

6. Do general-purpose robots need to be humanoid?

From Maria in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Rosie in The Jetsons and C-3PO in Star Wars, popular culture has taught us to expect androids that can do nearly everything a human can. However, most robots today, including those in the emerging service robot category, are neither humanoid nor general-purpose. What are the best reasons to design or use a humanoid robot?

In this closing session, Demaitre will look into the future with service robot industry leaders from the Toyota Research Institute, SoftBank Robotics, and Konpanion.

Register now to attend RoboBusiness’ track on “Service Robots Arrive in Daily Life” on Jan. 10 at CES 2019, and get your own questions answered in Las Vegas! Robotics Business Review will also cover other developments at the show.