We all know about Sophia, a social humanoid robot, which is quite an eloquent robot thanks to her artificial intelligence and machine learning system. In 2017, the robot – capable of imitating human gestures and facial expressions – became the first robot to receive citizenship of any country.
Now, Hanson Robotics, the Hong Kong-based company behind Sophia, plans to mass-produce its four robot models, including Sophia, this year to help people during the pandemic. During a presentation at the company’s lab, Sophia herself said social robots like her could be involved in taking care of the sick or elderly because they are able to communicate, give therapy and provide social stimulation, even in difficult situations.
David Hanson, the company’s founding director, said the coronavirus pandemic had shown the need for greater automation for human safety. According to Reuters, the company explains that the robots can not only provide solutions in healthcare during a pandemic but could assist customers in industries such as retail and airlines too.
Because Sophia and Hanson Robotics’ other robots are humanoid-looking, they can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated, the director pointed out. He aims to sell “thousands” of robots in 2021, both large and small, without providing a specific number.
Sophia is equipped to answer certain questions and engage in simple conversations. Cameras are also embedded in Sophia’s eyes, and along with computer algorithms, she’s able to see things. The robot, designed to get smarter over time, can track faces, maintain eye contact, and recognize people. By talking with Sophia, you can gauge the feelings of the person you are interacting with and look for ways to find ways to accomplish goals.
Hanson Robotics will also introduce a robot called Grace this year, designed specifically for the healthcare sector.
Other major players in the sector have also helped fight the pandemic. SoftBank Robotics’ robot called Pepper was used to determine whether people are wearing masks, while Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot helped doctors and ensure proper social distancing measures during COVID-19.