The topic of robots and artificial intelligence has recently resonated in societies around the world. The push for automation has been growing for several years, and the events of the past year have compounded it. Robots are working all the time, regardless of the pandemic and also regardless of the difficulty, monotony or danger of the job. What does the near future hold and what do we need to prepare for?
Robotization can be understood as an automatic technological or handling activity using machines, performed according to a predetermined procedure. The first robots began to be used in the factories of large manufacturers as early as the 1960s. Today, the use of intelligent programmable robots has spread to most areas of human functioning. Heavy machinery in assembly halls is one side of the coin; the other, perhaps even more important, is automation tools in information technology. A typical example is artificial intelligence in call centres, which is now replacing human invoicing in many positions.
In the total number of robots, the Czech Republic belongs to the European average, but the introduction of robotics is faster than average. According to statistics, there are three times more robots operating in the Czech Republic today than in 2010, and the International Federation of Robotics ranks the Czech Republic 15th in the ranking of countries with the highest increase in the number of robots. Currently, the Czech Republic has about 3-4% of Europe's robots, which is twice the size of the Czech economy.
Most of the "Czech" robots are used in the manufacturing industry - according to the CSO data, in 2020, more than 60% of large companies in this sector used industrial robots or manipulators, most often in the metallurgical and automotive industries. Service robots, which can assist humans or perform tasks independently and can also handle simpler forms of decision-making, are also starting to appear on the market. In addition to metallurgy, they are mainly used in the chemical industry and cleaning activities.
Robots can perform a wide range of activities and do so more efficiently compared to humans. How does this benefit humans? It means being able to leave difficult or dangerous work and engage in activities that can better harness the brain's creative potential. This cannot yet be replaced by machines.
Robots, on the other hand, don't mind routine and monotonous work, they can work 24/7, they can't get sick or run away to the competition. In addition to higher productivity, they ensure greater accuracy and lower error rates in the operations they perform. When it comes to process automation, programmable robots work quickly, efficiently and with absolute reliability. These are the most common reasons that motivate companies to invest in robotics.
For now, fears of massive job losses and increased unemployment appear to be false. There will certainly be a transformation in the labour market, but not a collapse. We can expect robots to take over mainly activities that humans do not want to do - perhaps because they are strenuous, boring or dangerous. According to a study by Oxford Economics, robots will take over 20 million manufacturing jobs by the end of 2030. But it would be a mistake to see these predictions as purely negative. The involvement of robots will free up the human workforce for more creative activities where machines cannot replace the human brain.
Are you wondering in which fields we will encounter robots more often than others? First and foremost, in manufacturing. Factories and production lines benefit in particular from the lower error rate and greater accuracy of robots, their speed and safety. The armed forces will use robots to deal with dangerous situations, for example in detecting and disposing of explosives. In agriculture, robots are used for planting, watering, fertilising and transport. In healthcare, they are beginning to replace doctors in operating theatres and lab technicians in drug factories. And last but not least, there's transportation, whose autonomous forms are undergoing massive testing.
In the case of medium-sized enterprises, robotization is mainly applied in the form of smart call centres, where many steps do not require a human brain. The automation of processes through CRM and ERP systems.
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