For many tech enthusiasts out there, the first sign that COVID-19 would massively impact our lives came back in February when the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was canceled in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
In the months following the cancellation, it became clear that simply stopping large events wouldn't be enough to halt what would ultimately become a global crisis.
Now, in a bid to secure future events from COVID-19 and other possible epidemics, robotics company Cheetah Mobile has introduced three AI-driven service robots: GreetBot, EngageBot, and FanBot.
The new 'COVID-safe' robots
Cheetah Mobile's fleet of new robots provides "event planners [with] a new, COVID-safe way to offer attendees an enhanced, interactive, and immersive experience while maintaining social distancing — whether in-person or online," the company explained in a press release.
The GreetBot allows for contactless check-in, event information, and guidance for in-person attendees. The robot can also include ID verification and touchless temperature readings.
For online visitors, the GreetBot allows for real-time inquiries, as well as virtual venue tours.
In fact, the robot was deployed at the 2020 Beijing International Automobile Exhibition (Auto China), where it allowed attendees to vote for the automobiles they most wanted to see, and the GreetBot displayed their top choices.
The EngageBot displays detailed event information, such as event agendas and venue maps, on its large screen for on-site attendees. It also responds to participant questions via voice control.
As per Cheetah Mobile's press statement, with "advanced AI technology, the EngageBot acts as an on-the-ground marketing agent, eliminating human contact."
The FanBot, meanwhile, is an "autonomous mobile vending machine that proactively offers snacks and drinks to in-person event participants." Of course, the robot comes with a contactless payment system. Using AI, it tries to anticipate the attendees' needs, Cheetah Mobile says.
All of these robots use Cheetah Mobile's proprietary OrionStar’s Speech OS, which can meet a speech-reading accuracy of more than 90 percent.
Technological advances during COVID-19
Perhaps the most impressive future on display in Cheetah Mobile's new fleet, however, is the OrionStar AI Technology, which also allows each of the three robots to seamlessly integrate AI capabilities — these include facial recognition, voice technologies, and even emotion perception for a smooth operation.
In recent months, Cheetah Mobile unveiled its tea master robot, a humanoid barista robot that "simulates master-level brewing techniques and guarantees a refined taste in every cup."
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disastrous effect globally, it has spurred technological and scientific advances — in robotics and other fields such as medicine — that we may have never seen otherwise.