When it comes to “service robot“, what is the first picture in your mind? Is it a sweeping robot fighting with pets in short videos, or a logistics robot shuttling through hotels to achieve contactless distribution during the epidemic? In fact, the value of robots is not limited to this.
In 2017, Virginia provided robots with the same right of way as pedestrians. According to the judgment of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the market scale of service robots will reach US $13 billion in 2021. We believe that service robots are the new blue ocean of smart cities. As a new urban unit with complete connection computing ability and breaking through the limitation of time and space, it has triggered a new exploration of urban development model and human lifestyle.
The International Federation of robots (IFR) divides robots into industrial robots and service robots. This paper focuses on the service robots in the key scenarios of smart city, covering government affairs, transportation, security, entertainment and services.
Connecting virtual reality: intelligent actuator in the era of Quanzhen
With the advent of comprehensive digitization, the world will enter the Quanzhen Internet era in which physics and digital space are closely combined. There are four key technical points in the real world: reality virtualization, virtual reality, holographic Internet and intelligent actuator.
Robot is one of the intelligent actuators connecting physical space and digital space. Robots have the four characteristics of “perception, interconnection, computing and interaction”, so that they can establish the interconnection mechanism of human, environment and robot, and promote the improvement of urban governance, service and living digital level.
（1） Four characteristics
Robot is the terminal of comprehensive perception of information, which breaks through the limitation of time and space to a certain extent. Through the collection of environmental information, it uses data to establish the digital model of physical space and social space. The robot can capture all forms of material, light, sound and heat information in the physical environment through multi-modal sensing methods, such as setting up sensors, radars and cameras. In addition, the robot is also a mobile sensing terminal, which can move in the three areas of sea, land and air, and enter the space inaccessible to humans and other devices.
With the development of robot 3D vision, it can obtain the complete geometric information of real 3D scene, and use the image with depth information to realize the accurate digitization of the scene, so as to realize the functions of high-precision recognition, positioning, reconstruction, scene understanding and so on.
After collecting the data of the environment and its own operation, the robot can upload the data to the cloud in real time to provide the dynamic law of urban operation from all dimensions.
The robot obtains the ability of calculation and decision-making through artificial intelligence algorithm, constantly learns new data, improves the algorithm, improves the accuracy, and completes the iterative upgrading of functions by installing new algorithms and new models.
In addition to sensing the surrounding environment, the robot also captures and recognizes the needs of human gestures, voice and expression, carries out intelligent interaction, and realizes the cooperation mode such as man-machine driving.
（2） Three functions
1,Entrance to urban services
Offline services have many limitations in working time and geographical location. As one of the entrances to connect people with digital space, robots respond to various needs in real time. Robots can also spontaneously identify needs through data and perception, so as to improve the intelligent level of urban services.
2,Carrier of remote operation
Robots can break the constraints of physical space and interact with objects without human as a medium, so as to complete complex, cumbersome and dangerous tasks instead of human beings. With the support of remote presentation, VR, AR and other technologies, robots project the virtual image of people or objects in one space to another space, create a sense of remote monitoring presence, and improve the efficiency of remote work and man-machine cooperation.
3,Swarm intelligence unit
Robots can share data through the Internet and LAN, or exchange data through sensors in close distance to achieve mutual cooperation. When the sensor is affected by environmental noise or too large activity range, the robot uses distributed reinforcement learning and neural network to realize spatial autonomous division, or learns the planning algorithm to respond to different emergencies to realize self-organizing swarm intelligence.
Comprehensive empowerment: service robots help urban digital upgrading
Nowadays, the development of smart city presents a new trend: from block informatization to comprehensive digitization, and from system construction to sustainable operation. Social (human), physical and digital spaces will be fully integrated, so it is necessary to connect the executors of these three spaces to complete a new round of upgrading of smart city. This is the unique value of service robots in smart cities.
Comprehensive digitization requires all-round digital space construction. As an actuator with comprehensive perception and real interconnection ability, robots can help cities get through multi-temporal, multi-scale and multi type cross system application data, and finally break the system restrictions with the support of collaborative work and independent control, Let the construction of smart city transition from individual intelligence of various components to swarm intelligence, so as to realize real all-round development.
Sustainable operation needs to ensure full coverage of physical space and provide services 24 hours a day. The mobile range of the robot in the sea, land and air meets the needs of global perception. Robots have the ability to independently complete a service closed loop, find problems through perception, report problems through interconnection, form decisions through calculation, and solve problems through execution. This will greatly improve the immediacy and continuity of urban operation and meet the needs of full-time response. In addition, sustainable operation also emphasizes cost control. The laying and operation cost of Internet of things equipment is high. The robot is more flexible and specific in use and deployment, so as to achieve on-demand distribution and reduce the cost of data acquisition.
From the perspective of application scenarios, service robots contribute to the quality improvement, inclusiveness and sharing, green, low-carbon, toughness, security and innovative development of cities:
Firstly, robots can provide people with high-quality life and entertainment services. Taking the waiter robots developed by harp Laboratory of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) as an example, they can capture people’s different reactions in social activities and judge their needs through facial recognition algorithm, so as to make various services in the city more timely and humanized.
In addition, in solving urban social problems, robots also help to improve the technical inclusiveness and social participation in the digital age, provide customized services for special groups, and help bridge the “digital divide” to a certain extent. Stevie, an elderly care robot developed by Akara robotics, has social assistance functions. It can play games, deliver things, connect to the Internet, connect video chat, identify help seeking information, and respond through language, gestures and head movement to eliminate the loneliness of the elderly, find special situations in time, and fill the gap of nursing staff.
Robots can efficiently complete complex and sustainable environmental protection, so as to achieve the sustainable development goal of urban green and low-carbon. Google Robotics Lab developed an automatic office waste sorting robot in 2019. The robot uses the marked data to train garbage classification in the virtual office in the cloud. This will improve the problem of unconscious and inaccurate manual classification.
In terms of strengthening urban resilience, robots have a more agile and stable performance in security, rescue and other tasks, so that humans do not have to take risks. In April 2020, the “sharp blade formation” composed of fire robots of Inner Mongolia fire rescue Corps was officially put into use. It is composed of 7 fire-fighting reconnaissance robots, 2 fire-fighting reconnaissance UAVs and 1 transport vehicle.
The fire robot can realize the remote transmission of Internet data, cooperate with the open space to extinguish the fire, improve the fire extinguishing efficiency and reduce the casualties of firefighters. In 2017, the snake robot developed by CMU bionic robot laboratory was used to search for survivors of the Mexico City earthquake. The main body of the robot is composed of 16 modules, and the head is equipped with lighting equipment and camera. It can enter the narrow space in the ruins that human beings cannot enter. In the future, the snake robot will be equipped with sensors to detect gas leakage in the rubble, and can also be used for troubleshooting in pipelines and underwater.
4,Innovation and development
Robots also have a variety of applications in scientific research and innovation. Scientists at the University of Liverpool in the UK have developed a robot chemist, which can easily detect thousands of samples around the clock, and work in bad environment or need to use toxic substances to keep experimenters away from risks. Researchers believe that the research on epidemic situation and climate needs international cooperation. Their next goal is to have such robots all over the world and connect them with a centralized brain.