In the British drama Humans, there is a classic line: the question is not whether robots can love, but whether humans love them. To a certain extent, it reflects that human cognition of robots is still in a primary state, and robots have not yet been applied to the real society on a large scale. But at the same time, “Black Mirror” and “Ex Machina”, which are also written in the vein of artificial intelligence, are also being broadcast in the media.
Since 2012, when SoftBank acquired the French robotics company Aldebaran Robotics, at the end of 2013, Google has invested in eight robotics and AI companies, and in 2014, the “robotics revolution” is expected to become the “third industrial revolution”, and now all kinds of favorable policies, we can see that artificial intelligence has become a popular topic in film and television works and real life, and the attention and consumer acceptance of robots are increasing day by day.
In terms of the overall market, service robots have entered a golden period of accelerated industrialization in the past two years, with robots empowering industries such as finance, transportation, government, education, health, and retail. For various industries, the integration of robots not only liberates some of the manpower, reduces enterprise management costs and improves operational efficiency, but also reshapes the offline scene.
The online dividend has passed, and offline is now looking for change
Another set of data shows that service robots are expected to reach a sales volume of 13.22 million units in 2020, with the entire scale or more than 20 billion. This also means that service robots are in a fast-rising stage and will be used in all kinds of scenarios.
Hu Jiawen, vice president of Ubiquity, recalls that since 2015, offline practitioners have more or less shown a need for change. The most obvious problem is that the demand for manpower will aggravate the number and cost of personnel in terminal stores, while a large number of low-threshold repetitive jobs need to be replaced by new ways of working.
Among the various industries, retail is one of the most representative industries. The essence of new retail is to drive the development of the industry through big data. In the process of retail industry operation, the three elements of people, goods and fields are essential. However, the cost of acquiring online traffic is increasing day by day, and there are many problems in the operation of offline stores, such as “lack of customer flow with stores, no conversion with customer flow, and difficult interaction with members”.
Hu Jiawen judged that when retail experienced the explosive growth of online, it will start to seek offline changes. However, the industry still faces two major difficulties: the escalating cost of investing in manpower and the non-standardization of manpower services. In order to solve these pain points, improve the ping efficiency of stores and optimize the user experience, each company chooses to enter from different technological perspectives. Undoubtedly, the addition of robots can take on a lot of repetitive work.
In Hu Jiawen’s vision, the most ideal state should be to standardize the tedious content and let robots take up 30%-40% of the daily repetitive work, creating synergy with manual services. Based on this thinking, Ubiquity came up with the idea of building Cruzr, a commercial service robot with an intelligent cloud platform.
Aiming at commercial use, Ubiquity launched Cruzr, a Cruzr robot
At present, Ubiquity has launched products including Alpha series of consumer-grade humanoid robots, Jimu, a smart programming robot for STEM education, Cruzr, a commercial service robot for the intelligent cloud platform, and the First Legion Puncher robot in cooperation with Disney. Among them, Cruzr Cruzr has been launched in preparation since 2015.
The complexity of a robot is far beyond the imagination of the outside world, and Cruzr began to invest in research and development around the needs of the industry. At the same time, Hu Jiawen and his team needed to think about how to minimize terminal labor costs in the era of weak artificial intelligence and how to accomplish good interaction with users in complex scenarios. Based on the initial original form and the above problems, Cruzr also made several product changes.
In January 2017, Cruzr was unveiled at CES; in August 2017, Cruzr was officially released; in October 2017, the Cruzr robot off-line ceremony of Ubiquity Technology (Kunming) Co., Ltd. was held in Kunming Town on Cloud, and the Cruzr robot project was officially put into mass production. The final presentation of Cruzr is based on cloud computing robot operating system, which can personalize software functions, design multi-angle advertising information, real-time video monitoring and control multiple devices with one key set. It is mainly spread across shopping malls, airports, hotels, banks, 4S stores and other kinds of scenes.
Compared with the original form, today’s Cruzr has made improvements in a number of details.
1) Voice interaction. The robot will first encounter wake-up problems in the process of use. Cruzr optimizes this and improves multimodal interaction technology, allowing users to use it with a threshold close to zero.
2) Improve recognition accuracy for specific environments. Since many black or transparent reflective mirrors in the store can affect robot navigation, Cruzr uses a multi-sensor system to improve the accuracy of robot recognition.
3) Form factor and safety. Cruzr uses a highly anthropomorphic design to enhance its affinity for appearance. At the same time, Cruzr adds multi-sensors to its arms, so that once the user touches Cruzr, it will immediately stop, ensuring that users can use it safely in public places.
In June 2018, the retail solution + Cruzr retail version will also be released. Taking the retail solution as an example, Cruzr provides support including hardware, software, cloud platform, PC terminal and mobile terminal. In addition, the optimization of the retail version of the solution covers customer attraction, near-field welcome and far-field welcome; the ability to incorporate voice interaction enhancements, hardware design enhancements such as fluency and flexibility; as well as improvements in diversity and entertainment. In addition, the retail version of the solution is also being tailored to the individual needs of the to B industry, the customer’s own knowledge base content continues to improve.
The addition of robots reshapes the business scene
The significance of robots does not stop at helping manual customer service to improve the efficiency of problem solving, but after mastering the massive amount of customer data, businesses can set up tags for customers and realize customized recommendations through data analysis, thus extending to personalized reach across the domain. On a broader level, robots enable the data thinking in online operations to empower offline, further promoting accurate marketing. It also reverses the traditional idea that offline shoppers need to guide customers to promote consumption, changing the function of shoppers from selling goods to operating users.