Collaboration with Robots

Interviewing people about collaboration in today’s world has been fascinating. At the same time I have been wondering what the future of collaboration might look like as robots start to integrate more with humans. What does collaboration with robots look like? What are the possibilities? What are the implications for leaders?

There is quite a bit of work on collaborative robotics being undertaken. The key idea is to create robots that can work alongside humans. So, for example, if a robot is working and a human steps in its path it is able to avoid a collision. It’s pretty basic, but it is a start. What I am wondering is how interaction will begin to happen on a deeper level.

I love this video of robots engaging in therapy as they seek to dominate the world. Good old Watson comes in to save the day for humans!

2017 will see a continued growth of robotics and artificial intelligence. As this happens there will be greater interaction between human and machine. Robots will become assistants and co-workers and that means adding a new repertoire of skills to our current interactions. It won’t necessarily mean we all need to become coders, although it is still currently a sought after skill. Increasingly we will be able to programme through demonstrating once and the robot repeating the task, learning as it goes. Baxter and Sawyer, from Rethink Robotics, are two examples of robots that work like humans do to provide a collaborative human-robot working environment. Check out this fun video of ‘co-bots’ continuing to work even although the humans seem to have frozen!

Increasingly, collaboration will include robots as co-workers. Just as with a human co-worker you will need to interpret the expressions on the robot’s face, watch their eyes to anticipate which direction they are going to move in and consider how you might support them to be most productive.

As the rise of robots continues there is likely to be an increase in productivity but the concern is that there will be less work for humans, especially for those in repetitive, rote jobs. This might allow people to spend more time engaged in complex interactions and relationships, which is why the increased emphasis on collaboration, creativity an critical thinking is increasingly important in education and business. To be human has never been more important.

Other sites to check out:
Companion Robots

Helper Bots

Photo credit: Janus Sandsgaard  20131028_184650 robot

About Cheryl Doig

Cheryl Doig is a leadership futurist who works internationally and virtually with organisations, leadership teams and business leaders. She has the unique ability to weave the latest leadership trends with practical strategies and tools, based on her experience in learning, leadership and governance. Her company, Think Beyond Ltd, focuses on challenging and supporting leaders to create outstanding futures. www.thinkbeyond.co.nz

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