Artificial Intelligence on Cruise Ships of the Future

Emerging technology on cruise ships

When it comes to future technology in the travel industry, cruise lines have long been ahead of the game.  Even before the global pandemic began in March 2020, cruise lines were looking at introducing emerging technology.  However, the Covid-19 pandemic has acted as a catalyst to cause the industry to speed up the process and improve the passenger experience, especially in relation to health protocols.

At the Passenger Ship BoardingTerminal

One of the first aspects of the use of future technology in improving the health of cruise passengers will be the use of touchless system technology. This will apply to such things as signing bills and scanning passports. The aim will be to avoid any direct human interaction.

Both Google and Apple are already developing “track-and-trace” apps that can alert crew to whether someone has been near an infected person.  Other systems will include purification and pathogen removal for the whole of the facility.

Onboard Changes on Cruise Ships

Passenger Ship embarkation will involve biometric identification and we are likely to see disinfection tunnels leading to the boarding terminal.  Already most major cruise lines offer online check-in which means that you can get your boarding pass over the phone. Almost certainly, thermal imaging cameras will be placed at entry points.

Some Cruise Lines already have on-board artificial intelligence systems similar to Amazon Alexa.  

MSC has an on-board voice-activated assistant named Zoe.  In future, on-board health protocols will be set up to include the use of touchless technology.  Phone apps will be downloaded to do such things as unlock the door as you approach, so guests won’t need to touch their cabin door handle.  

Every cabin will be fitted with AI-powered voice-activated information speakers. 

Passengers will use apps on their mobile phones to do many things. They will act as key-cards to open your cabin, to order and to pay for drinks, make bookings at restaurants, shows and the spa, and to book shore excursions. You will even be able to check your account, track your loved ones and control the lights and temperature in your cabin. This will avoid the use of shared touchscreens that cruise ships frequently use to sell tours and book activities.

Most cruise passengers are familiar with the daily newsletters and invitations that are slid under the door of the cabin. Such things, along with meal menus will become a thing of the past, to be replaced by digital emerging technology replacing all paper-based information and avoiding touching surfaces.  

Physical queueing will be limited by the use of virtual queueing apps to limit how many people will stand together in a certain area at a given time. This will avoid overcrowding at lunch buffets, in the fitness centre or at the pool.  Passengers will be able to order food and drinks and have them delivered to specified locations on board.

Robots on board Cruise Ships

Germ-zapping robots are already being used in hotels, restaurants and food processing facilities. These robots use broad-spectrum UV light to quickly decontaminate rooms and public spaces.  Similar robots will be able to autonomously enter cabins and sanitise the room after housekeeping staff have left. 

But what about the Personal Touch on Cruise Ships?

What cruise line operators are very conscious of is that one of the main reasons people take cruises is to enjoy the socialisation that is a major part of the experience and such innovations as physical distancing need to be carefully managed to preserve this important aspect of cruising.  

One key feature of the cruise ships of the future will be the social distancing protocol, as personal interaction with shipboard staff is very important in creating memorable experiences on cruise ships.

What Cruise Lines Are Doing With Next-Generation Cruise Technology

Read more about Artificial Intelligence into the future

The Benefits of Robotic Lawn Mowers

robotic lawn mowers

So how do Robotic Lawn Mowers work?

robotic lawn mowers

Robotic lawn mowers work completely unattended.  There is no need for manual effort… no pushing, guiding, refilling or stowing the machine… the mower remains in its charging station until it is activated.  Forget the stress and frustration of pulling on a starter cord to a motor that won’t start. All you have to do is use your smart phone to tell it when and where to mow.

Installation

Initially you will need to have some guiding cables fitted under your lawn and you may need some assistance with the installation.  The main cable is the boundary wire.  The boundary wire defines the working area.   It helps the mower to reach all areas and to manage passages. Inside the boundary wire there is also one or more guide wires. The guide wire helps the mower to find the shortest way back to the charging station and prevents track marks from appearing on your lawn.

Battery charging

The robotic mower runs on battery power.  When your mower is running out of battery energy, it will automatically return to the battery charging station to recharge.  Since the robotic mower is battery powered, there are no direct omissions or any fuel to worry about.

The main features of robotic lawn mowers

  • Robotic mowers are self-propelled and can safely be left to work at any hour of the day. They work in rain and sunshine, all according to your settings.
  • The technology is continually being updated and automatic mowers can now handle slopes up to 70%.
  • A GPS system records the area mowed and adjusts the mowing pattern accordingly.
  • Full coverage is insured by the guide wires.
  • Built-in sensors detect objects and lower the speed to avoid collisions.
  • Razor sharp blades are designed for continuous and efficient mowing.  Blades fold away when they touch other objects that are not grass.
  • You don’t have to do any raking or collecting.  The clippings are so small that they are never spread where you don’t want them.
  • No need to dispose of lawn clippings.  The clippings feed the lawn and make it healthier and greener.
  • An auto-mower adjusts to grass growth and weather conditions.
  • There is a robotic automatic mower for every lawn.

Running costs

Because of the energy-efficient system, the operating cost is very low.

History of Robotic Lawn Mowing

The robotic lawn mower revolution was started 25 years ago by Husqvarna.  The Husqvarna Auto-mower today has the lowest noise levels of all robotic lawn mowers on the market.

From walk-behind mowers to ride-on machines to robotic mowers, Husqvarna now offers different lawn mowing and cutting solutions with accessories to cover your mowing needs all year round. 

Read about Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

The Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES 2020)

drones

CES® Is the Global Stage for Innovation

CES is the world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years — the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.

Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, it attracts the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers.

Artificial Intelligence & Robotics

Artificial intelligence and robotics are changing the way we do business.

At CES 2020 you can see the latest developments in artificial intelligence and the next generation of intelligent, autonomous machines.

Will Robots Replace Human Jobs?

Jobs at risk

A new problem in the brave new world of robots.

Business owners are in a race to replace their workers as quickly as possible in order to avoid being overtaken by their competitors. However, the flip side of this is that workers are not impressed and not really excited about the prospect of their jobs being taken over by robots.  One expert predicts that 40% of all current jobs will be replaced within 15 years by robots controlled by artificial intelligence.

Robot Resistance

It seems now that in some countries, robots are becoming unpopular, to the extent that some humans are resorting to violence against the robots themselves, rather than against their creators or the employers who introduced them to the work place.  Recently a robotic security guard was wrapped in a tarpaulin and covered with barbecue sauce . In Russia a teaching robot was bashed with a baseball bat.  It seems to be a world-wide phenomenon on our robot planet.
So why this strange new phenomenon?  It could be that we are coming to regard robots as creatures very similar to ourselves… after all, our human hearts can be seen simply as sophisticated pumps.  And our DNA can be described in a form similar to computer code.  Even our nervous system is like to the electrical wiring inside machines.  The similarities are many.

Robots v HumansWorking Robot

Does this mean that, in the future, a battle between humans and robots is inevitable?  Perhaps not.  One robot manufacturer has discovered that if robots are given a name, fellow workers are much less likely to attack them.  You can imagine a work place where a robot named “George” is introduced to the workers.  Mary, John and Alan will be happier to work with “him” and not resent the fact that one of their team has been replaced by a machine.  I imagine that lunch breaks and morning tea breaks would be interesting for employee conversation and bonding!!

Will robots reduce human employment?

So which professions can be challenged by the potential introduction of robots in the work place? Practically every profession practised by humans is now under threat by robots.  And this includes the most unlikely.  Robot chefs in restaurants are now a reality.
It seems that even journalism is under threat.  The Guardian has recently engaged a robot writer that has just written its first article!!  (I don’t know the name of this new robotic writer).
Even the medical and legal professions are under threat by artificial intelligence.
Here is a list of the 10 Jobs most likely to be taken over by robots..Construction workers
  1. INSURANCE UNDERWRITERS AND CLAIMS REPRESENTATIVES
  2. BANK TELLERS AND REPRESENTATIVES
  3. FINANCIAL ANALYSTS
  4. CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
  5. INVENTORY MANAGERS AND STOCKISTS
  6. FARMERS
  7. TAXI DRIVERS
  8. MANUFACTURING WORKERS
  9. JOURNALISTS
  10. MOVIE STARS

Could a robot do your job?

How likely is it that a robot will take your job?

 

 

 

Self-Driving Cars

automatic guided vehicle

How soon will we see self-driving cars on the roads?

You may think that robotic self-driving cars are thing of science fiction. Not since 3D printing has a technology been so hyped up to imminently change our everyday lives.  But there is a lot of misunderstanding about artificial intelligence as it is employed in autonomous vehicles. In this article we look at how self-driving cars work and how they’re going to change the future of transportation.

Riley Wynn from Digital Trends says that despite all the developments in the technology, people are still scared of them.  Fear stems from a lack of understanding, so here is how self-driving cars work and how they will change the future of transportation.

One common misunderstanding is about what is a self-driving car.

Many of us at presently already own what can be classed as a low-level autonomous vehicle.  We take for granted such features as cruise control and ABS braking but these systems are autonomous in their own right.

In fact, autonomous vehicles have been classified into five categories, on a scale of increasing complexity.

Uber Self-driving vehicle

Category Levels of Autonomous Vehicles…

Level 0  All major systems are controlled by humans.  (The car you learnt to drive in)

Level 1  Certain systems such as cruise control and ABS are controlled by the car.  (Most modern vehicles on the road)

Level 2  At least two simultaneous automated functions like acceleration and steering but still has human override capability.

Level 3  The car commands all safety-critical functions under certain conditions but the driver is expected to take over when alerted.

Level 4  The car is fully autonomous in some scenarios but not all.

Level 5  The car is capable of self-driving in every situation.

Currently there are no technology companies that can offer a Level 5 fully autonomous car that will cope with any conditions on any road with no human overseer.

What robotic technologies are used to drive autonomous cars?

The main technologies employed in self driving cars are…

Radar sensors

Cameras

Internal GPS

Laser range finders

Sophisticated software

Lidar sensors
Lidar is a method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target. [Wikipedia]

How do self-driving vehicles work?

The lidar and the radar sensors feed information about the surrounds of the car to the central ai computer, which also gets information from the vehicle’s GPS (Global Positioning System) to precisely locate the vehicle in relation to other vehicles and objects.

The on-board cameras then step in to create a visual picture of what is around, to match the data points provided by the other technology.  This provides the ai central computer with information about anything that may be in the road, such as pedestrians or cyclists.

Self-driving vehicles are designed to make intelligent decisions on the best way to navigate around obstacles.  The ai computer aggregates all the received data from the sensors and then sends the information to the actuators in the car that control the braking, the throttle and the steering.  This is where the vehicle becomes robotically controlled. All these processes are repeated many times per second, in real time, to maintain control of the vehicle.  The robotic system replicates all the processes that a driver performs when behind the wheel and the eventual goal is that they will do it better than we humans can.

Who is building self-driving vehicles?

Waymo self-driving car
Several big-name companies are in the race to get autonomous vehicles on the road.  Companies like Apple, Google (Waymo) and Tesla and Uber.  Uber expects to have autonomous Volvos on the road by 2020 but has stated that there will always be a human on board to rescue the AI in case of an emergency.  Companies like Apple are focussing on shuttles and ride-sharing vehicles.

Delivery giants like Amazon, Fedex and UPS are looking at how they could take the driver out of truck driver.  Self-driving deliveries of packages could be the forerunner to self-driving vehicles for human passengers.

Level 5 autonomous vehicles on the roads are still a long way off but robotic vehicles for deliveries and shuttles could be just around the corner (literally).

Fear of autonomous vehicles

Nevertheless, many people are still worried about the safety issues with self-driving cars.

Let us know in the comments below if you would ride in or own a self-driving car.

Read more about AI

Australia’s first ever retail store staffed by robots

humanoid robot

An ice-cream parlour at Melbourne’s federation square is staffed by three robots.

The robots are named Pepper, Eka and Tony.  Tony has two arms and a screen that appears as a “face”.  A team of ABB engineers worked to bring into reality a new retail experience for customers.

Robot serverThe process is simple.  It all starts with a touch screen.  The customer selects the number of scoops, chooses the flavours and toppings and the robots do the rest.

It’s just another example of robots serving up convenience.  Automation in the retail sector is nothing new.  E-commerce giant Amazon has been using robots to help with workflow for quite some time.  A “smart home” in Zurich was built mostly using 3D printers and robots.

So, should we be worried about robots eventually stealing our jobs?

A 2019 survey by recruitment agency Hays, found that 18% of Aussie workers have already had their job impacted significantly by robots, with their duties changing or their role becoming redundant.  Another 32% said their role had been impacted partially, with some tasks automated.

Adam Gregory from Linked-In says that automation and the ability to work with robots actually presents a huge opportunitiy for employers and employees… “Robots can take on the most mundane tasks, freeing up the workforce to do more creative and more complex work.  In fact, in industries like manufacturing, robots can take on the more high-risk tasks, thus providing a safer work environment.”

But in the future, it will be the robot’s biggest weakness that will be our biggest selling point… “soft skills” like communication, influence and problem solving.  Adam says that “In fact, 91%of HR professionals indicate that these “soft skills” will be the most in demand skills in the future”.

The company, Niska, is looking to extend robotic servers into other areas of retail.

Delivery Robots are on the Move

Delivery Robot

Entrepreneur Ahti Heinla had been working with robots and also building them in his spare time when he responded to a request from NASA to help develop an autonomous rough-terrain robot to find and retrieve rock samples on Mars.  The proposal that he submitted to NASA was not successful but he and colleague Janus Friis then came up with the idea of using robots to make deliveries in suburban areas.

Delivery RobotToday, their company, Starship Technologies, has offices around the world and its delivery robots have travelled over 200,000 miles delivering over 50,000 orders in many neighbourhoods and on university campuses.  At George Mason University, its fleet of 25 robots makes it the largest robot food delivery service on a university campus.

Cost Saving Deliveries

The idea for the robot delivery service developed from the insight that 95% of the things that people order online are small enough to be delivered by a small robot at lower cost than that which delivery companies typically incur in the last few miles of a journey.
Delivery robots use similar technology to that found in autonomous cars, such as cameras, ultrasonics and GPS guidance.  But they are not totally autonomous.  The robots are able to put in a call to a human operator for assistance if a problem arises.  The human operator may be overseeing over 100 robots at any time.  The operator may not even be in the same country but can watch every delivery.

So how have pedestrians reacted to small robots trundling along sidewalks in amongst the human walkers?

When Starship rolled out their first robots to test them in action, at first people would stop and take photos but after seeing a few of them, most would lose interest and accepted them as part of the urban environment.  Pedestrians do not seem to find them intrusive or a hindrance to them going about their normal business.
It appears that sidewalk robots, far from being robot toys, could be here to stay.

And what about self-driving vehicles for deliveries?

A Brief History of Robotic Vacuums

Best Robot Vacuum

The man credited with inventing the robot vacuum is James Dizon, who sold the rights to Electrolux.  In 1996, Electrolux introduced the first robotic vacuum cleaner to the market. However, it failed to capture the market.

It wasn’t until 2002 that iRobot launched Roomba. Roomba was capable of changing directions and could detect dirty spots on the floor. It could also negotiate stairways.

In 2001, Dyson demonstrated the DC06 but it was too expensive for the market. Then in 2004, three years later, iRobot achieved one million units in sales.

Ten years later, in 2014, Dyson introduced the Dyson 360 Eye with a 360 degree camera and double suction.

2015 saw the introduction of “Sooba’, a robot machine that was capable of scrubbing floors.. then in 2016, iRobot released the “Dirt Dog” that was able to clean up doggie debris.

Following on from the Dirt Dog, the iRobot Braava 380T was introduced and was capable of sweeping and mopping at the same time. This unit had extended battery life and a “North Star” GPS style navigation.

What is the advantage of a robotic vacuum cleaner?

In comparison to traditional vacuum cleaners, robot vacuums are relatively quiet and take much less space to store.

But the main advantage is convenience.

We recently became proud owners of a Mi Robot Vacuum manufactured in China by Roborock Technology.

robot vacuum reviews
“Dusty”

The Mi Robot Vacuum is an intelligent cleaner fitted with a high precision laser distance sensor that can create a map of your home and calculate a precise cleaning route as it goes. It works its way methodically around the selected area and automatically navigates back to the charging dock when it is finished.  All you have to do is empty it.

We named the unit “Dusty”. Dusty can be left to clean the floors of our house while we attend to other more important matters. A mobile phone app allows Dusty to be controlled and monitored from anywhere that there is internet access.

My wife Chris says…

“We love our new pet Dusty!  It is very quiet, maps out each room first, then goes about vacuuming the floor, carpet, tiles and wood.  It does the lot with quiet ease. One chore I always hated doing was vacuuming. Now it’s so easy, I just press the start and it’s off.

​We no longer have to crouch down and awkwardly manoeuvre the vacuum pipe, cords and hose around and under the beds and and under chairs. The Mi Robot vacuum does it all for you while you are out shopping or getting on with other more enjoyable things”.

 

​The Mi handbook claims that from now on we will be freed from boring household chores and can start enjoying life.

Robots at the CES

robots in retail

Walker the Robotic Assistant
Walker

Robots starred at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

The CES is a gadget-lovers’ paradise and offers consumers a glimpse of the future.  CES is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).  The show attracts the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers.

Robots were winning over visitors to the show.

CES 2019 was held from January 8 to 11 and with more than 4,400 exhibitors and over 1,000 start-ups, there was something new lurking around every corner… including Personal Robot Assistants.   Yes, the time has come to have your own personal robot assistant! 

What can Robots do?

Many new robots now have advanced capabilities.  There was even a robot at the show that can fold your laundry for you!

A Robot named “Walker” can become part of your family with its own personality, thanks to the sophistication of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Walker will even bribe you with snacks!

Robotic Assistant
Robotic Assistant

Robots in Space

Robot rover on Mars

Robots of the future

Robots have been working in space now for many years but advancements in artificial intelligence mean that much more complex tasks can be performed in exploring other planets and their moons.  Robots of the future will be able to help establish a base on the moon and even assist with manned missions to Mars.

Chart of Earth, Moon and Mars missions in NASA's Lunar Exploration Campaign
Credits: NASA

Robot rover on MarsMoon Base