"We need to develop some form of cobotics management, rules that determine how humans and robots work together," said Pablo Gomez, Head of Innovation & Managing Director Iberia at FM Logistic, as he began his talk at the P3 Future Trends conference in Prague.
The relentless march of progress means that robots with a level of dexterity to match humans will be with us sooner than we think. Only recently, robots were still learning how to walk or to perform such basic tasks as lifting a box. Now, Boston Dynamics’ walking robot not only handles the level floors of a warehouse but also rugged terrain in the great outdoors. Even so, we will have to wait for another couple of years before the kind of "robo-partner" seen in the Robocop movies becomes a reality. "We have the basic technology, but we still need to invest a lot more into development before we see anything like that level of robotics," suggests Gomez
In order to avoid possible snags and roadblocks in the future, Pablo Gomez suggested that the market, and society at large, should consider the future of robotics and put in place a clear set of rules that govern the way in which AI development should continue, a "cobotics management" system if you like. "Humans want machines to do their work, so more and more often we will find a human and a robot working side by side. And yet, there are no rules for this. As a starter, we could at least make sure that robots won't harm their human work colleagues. From there we should agree other rules for how humans and machines work together. Right now, we’re finding out everything by trial and error," Gomez noted.
Pablo Gomez is also thinking about new tech-driven business models for 3PLs like FM Logistic.
"We are increasingly looking at the ‘sharing economy’, sponsoring start-ups that we believe have potential, such as Stockbooking, the first European platform for temporary storage that matches available warehouse space and companies’ warehouse needs, and Click&Truck, a B2B marketplace that links manufacturers with delivery requirements with transporters with available capacities in real time. We want to exploit the value of these capacities and incorporate them in our supply chains,“ explains Gomez.
"So far, we're still trying to work out how to ride the crest of the wave of change. There are so many opportunities. We want to be a part of the future – in fact, we want to play a role in creating it," Gomez said in closing.