Some of the top minds in the field have some advice for the next presidential administration on how to proceed with robotics. Last week, a group of 150 experts from Google, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, UPenn, Yale, Georgia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon (to name a few) published the latest edition of the Roadmap for Robotics, a report that outlines the industry’s future. The 100-page paper is meant to serve as a guide to what sorts of developments the technology industry should strive for and what types of technologies Congress should invest in.
The experts offer specific suggestions as to how the U.S. should allocate funds toward advancing robotics and lays out suggestions for regulation. For one, it suggests robotics companies be required to offer more transparency regarding the tasks that their machines can and cannot perform. The report specifically singles out robots meant for hospitals and other medical settings.
“There have been several instances,” the paper says, without naming names, “of companies grossly exaggerating a robot’s capabilities, understating the required amount of training time clinicians need to become proficient at using a robot, and substantially overcharging rural hospitals for technology that does not actually benefit health care workers or patients.”
The paper cites delivery bots as an important area of development. Currently, Silicon Valley startup Savioke’s Relay acts as a bellhop, making deliveries throughout hotels. London-based Starship Technologies manufactures bots that cruise down sidewalks and deliver food and parcels. The road map encourages the development of limbed robots that can deliver goods by climbing stairs, avoiding broken walkways, and negotiating crowded areas–much in the ways that humans do. “With such a solution,” the authors say, “logistics will become fast, 24/7, on-demand, inexpensive, predictable, and well-tracked.”
Another key suggestion: Invest in robotics for use in the manufacturing industry that are highly intuitive and require little training. The authors warn that China, South Korea, Japan, and India are all spending more on technology education than the U.S.–allowing their manufacturing industries to grow at a faster rate as tech is easily integrated into their factories.