With the launch of their new robot, Bo, on the horizon, we caught up with BotsAndUs for an exclusive interview.
BotsAndUs: An Exclusive Interview
Throughout time, robots have been imagined in a variety of guises; from 20ft tall killing machines to space-dwelling humanoid sidekicks and seductive androids.
Since the term was first introduced in 1920, the idea of ‘robots’ has gone hand in hand with that of fantasy, adventure and space travel. Even still, in this modern world, as we see more and more scrutiny of what the future could potentially holds for robots, they continue to be portrayed as sentient beings, most often with a score to settle.
Such movie making and programming operate on the not-so-subtle question of ‘what if we don’t keep control over this technology and end up losing our standing in the world to robots?’ It’s a question ripe with scope for fiction writers, but the reality is vastly different.
That’s not to say we aren’t all going to have to endure such tabloid headlines as Killer Bot Eats Baby and A Robot Took My Job, And Then It Took My Wife, but, as usual it will be false. The truth is that robots are already here, and rather than being a feature of some dystopian scene, they are being designed and implemented with the aim of solving genuine, real-world problems.
There is no doubt that robots will be part of our future, but there is still a lot of misunderstanding as to what they will actually be doing, not least the relationship that we humans will have with them.
To learn more about the potential of AI and robots, we got in touch with Andrei Danescu, CEO of BotsAndUs, one of the industry’s leading innovators, as they prepare for the release of their debut product, Bo.
First of all, if you could share a little about BotsAndUs; how did the business come about, what do you do and who are you aiming your products and services at?
As highly energetic and innovative spirits, our passion for robotics was born from the strong desire to stay close to our families from the other side of the continent and not miss any key moments in their lives. We needed a technology that would allow us to be part of “home” from anywhere and that could co-exist with our parents and grandparents, bringing a smile to their faces in our absence. We also needed to convince them that tech is simple, tech is affordable and tech is good….This is how BotsAndUs was born!
At BotsAndUs we strongly believe in the symbiosis of humans and robots, in a world in which they co-exist towards building more meaningful and happier lives for all generations and social backgrounds.
To have a stronger impact on the overall robotics market, we consciously made the decision of being more than a robot producer. We want to inspire people and businesses to open their doors to robotics by creating beautifully designed products that are useful, accessible and loveable to humans (the Bots) and, at the same time, educate consumers about the collective and individual benefits of AI (the Us).
Bo, our first product to come to market (to be launched in Feb 2017), is a one of a kind, highly intelligent and interactive assistant for the retail, hospitality and events sectors. Super easy to use and personalise (inside and outside), Bo will revolutionise customer experience and become the best brand advocate for a variety of businesses for which face-to-face customer/guest interaction are essential for success.
Artificial intelligence and robotics have the potential to disrupt every industry on the planet but, realistically, in which industries do you think they will find their most natural home?
We think that the biggest opportunity for AI is where big data shines and its collection is the easiest. Sectors such as Transportation, Civil Engineering and Health are the most obvious and the ones that have a significant advantage already. In addition, a proper integration of AI principles within them can instantly benefit a wide population, making the access to public and private funding, hopefully, a lot easier.
On the fun side, Gaming is an interesting area that allows for such a variety of experiments and educational programs.
Robotics needs to get out of the warehouse/factory and develop with one goal in mind – to seamlessly try to integrate into everyday life. Autonomous cars will most likely keep evolving at a huge speed now that the big players are involved and can really make them affordable, easier to understand and to use. Smart homes are another no-brainer, as consumer electronics companies that have the infrastructure to take it to the masses really embrace it.
Here at TDMB, we are really interested in the ‘next’ as well as the ‘now’. So, looking towards the next 10-15 years, where do you see robotics, AI and BotsAndUs going?
With the speed of the industry and the exponential development of the components that support it, robotics will most likely become a commodity in people’s lives in the next 15 years – robots will be more and more present in public spaces and therefore humans will get used to them and accept them in their homes as well.
This is the model we are following with BotsAndUs as well so by then we aim to have a pipeline of beautifully designed products across a variety of sectors as well as a revolutionary assistant for the home.
There is a school of thought that says collaboration is the next big thing for innovation, with more and more companies coming together to create tech they never could alone.
With this in mind, asides from BotsAndUs, what technological advancements have got you most excited/impressed? And do you see yourselves teaming up with anyone in the future?
As a hardware start-up, we are extremely excited about hardware development becoming so much easier and accessible to a wider group of companies.
Raspberry Pi was a groundbreaking piece of tech that took the world by storm and made our lives so much easier. All the other boards that followed have obviously improved their initial kit, but they are still the leaders when it comes to impressive innovation.
Also, without 3D desktop printers going mainstream, we wouldn’t really have a product to talk about at all – it would all be wires and LEDs sticking out of a metal chassis.
We would love to partner with some of the big data and AI specialists and understand how our products can support in building and assessing their work.
Basically be the physical face of AI, the face that makes it easier for humans to understand how this abstract concept can actually help them in the day to day struggles and help them live a more meaningful and happier life.
As we see so much go wrong in the world around us, one of the most interesting aspects of tech is the promise it holds to solve some of our planet’s most damaging issues. Is there anything BotsAndUs are doing now or would like to do in the future, to tackle these issues?
And do you believe that private tech companies are obliged in any way to work towards mending these world issues?
We don’t think tech companies are necessarily obliged to but they will do it regardless.
The speed at which they operate is phenomenal and clearly, the public sector is severely left behind. Ideally, they will start to come together and use AI and robotics for the greater good – with less regulation and more openness to agile development and testing.
At BotsAndUs we actually started with a specific goal to tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges – supporting the independence of the elderly.
This is still top of mind for us and everything we are developing we make sure can be applied to a future product specifically built for this purpose.