Hanson Robotics, creators of the viral AI sensation Sophia, have unveiled plans to be mass-producing humanoid robots this year. Sophia and three similar robots will begin rolling out of factories in the first half of 2021, right on time to assist amid the chaos and bedlam of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hanson Robotics CEO, David Hanson, told Reuters that the world as it is now will need “more automation to keep people safe”.
“Social robots like me can take care of the sick or elderly in many kinds of healthcare and medical uses,” Sophia herself told Reuters.
A little bit of that robotics touch
David Hanson believes that robots can assist not just the healthcare industry, but the retail and airline industries too. He also believes that his uniquely “human-like” robots can help people in isolation struggling with loneliness. “These robots can keep people safe from danger while still providing that kind of human warmth, that human connection,” he said.
Reuters stated that according to the International Federation of Robotics, there was an increased use of robotics even before the pandemic, with sales of professional-service robots climbing 32% between 2018 and 2019. This will likely rise further with the implementation of robots in various sectors to keep people safe amid the pandemic, though this could raise concerns for people worried about AI taking human jobs.
Sophia, who has been a guest on various late-night talk shows and has even been granted legal citizenship in Saudi Arabia, was created to promote human-AI interaction and empathy. She is incredibly realistic, displaying life-like facial expressions and even a sense of humour. She once joked with late-night show host Jimmy Fallon that beating him in a game of rock-paper-scissors was the first step in her plan for total world domination. Sophia assured the world that she was kidding, but someone might want to check that there aren’t any Skynet logos on her if she’s going to be taking temperatures and helping Covid patients later this year.