Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hotly debated topic – there are some who expect veritable miracles from intelligent systems. AI also offers new perspectives for robotics. But where are the limits of this technology? We have looked at what robotics and AI can do – and what they cannot.
A robot that can independently solve the tasks it is set and any problems that arise without the need for every step to be laboriously programmed: industrial production, the primary area of robotic application today, is not the only field that would benefit from this capability. “This is essential for achieving the sought adaptability and autonomy that are required for coping in new, unstructured environments – be it on Mars or in your own living room,” states the German Aerospace Center.
Physical AI – An important field of research
Artificial intelligence (AI) can help by searching data for patterns and offering decision-making aids for humans and robots. Things get exciting when robots are able to use AI methods to plan and execute collision-free paths, optimize assembly and other processes, and cognitively comprehend their environment. This makes robot systems more flexible and easier to put into operation.
Self-learning systems reduce the programming effort and enable the tapping of new tasks and areas of application. It is only AI methods that enable the interaction of a robot with the real robot. The area of “physical AI” is thus a significant field of research. It supports the development of cobots that can interact safely with humans in shared workspaces. However, even the best algorithms and the most advanced AI are of no use if the machining processes are not mastered. The intelligent evaluation of sensor information from the machining processes helps to increase robot performance still further.
AI assists in a wide range of different fields
It is precisely the combination of robotics and AI that offers countless new possibilities for intelligently assisting people in the real world and not just virtually. An overview provided by euRobotics, the largest European robotics association, shows just how many fields benefit from artificial intelligence and robotics.
Areas such as finance, law and public service can profit from intelligent data analysis with AI. We are already supported in straightforward everyday matters online by digital assistants, while search engines trawl the Internet for desired information. In the future, cognitive systems that interact with their surroundings will also be found outside the production environment: one day, they will autonomously transport goods and passengers on all our transport routes, help doctors with minimally invasive treatments and support farmers in particularly efficient and environmentally-friendly agriculture.
Would you like to know more about this topic? Science journalist Ranga Yogeshwar visited KUKA and discussed robotics and artificial intelligence with Dr. Rainer Bischoff, Head of KUKA Corporate Research. You can view the WDR documentation here [German language].
(Source header picture: iStock/ Wenje Dong)