From Japan: COVID-19 Speeds Up Automation

Automation process was suddenly accelerated

The automation process was suddenly accelerated in many companies due to COVID-19. With the isolation and distancing measures adopted during the pandemic, robots take on tasks that before were done by humans, thus anticipating phenomena that should continue in the post-virus phase.

A Bain&Company study based on interviews with 800 executives from several countries that was released in April revealed that, in the following two years, it is expected that automation in companies will double. Companies that quickly replaced humans with robots during the pandemic should adopt them permanently. In turn, consumers that interacted with robots during social isolation will be more accustomed to this type of service in the post-virus phase - making it easier to incorporate them fully into brand operations.  

Japan is one of the countries where automation has been stimulated by COVID-19. Due to the new coronavirus outbreak in the country, robots took on new tasks in factories and customer service, and are even used to sanitize spaces to reduce the risk of infection. Read out about some of the initiatives introduced by Japanese companies:

- The wholesaler Paltac decided to increase the use of robots in its warehouses in order to avoid proximity between employees, as well as humans coming in contact with the products.  By using artificial intelligence, new robot models will begin to undertake more complex tasks, including object recognition.  

- The medical devices company Terumo is supplying hospitals with robots that use UV light to disinfect environments. These machines, which are strong allies in the fight against COVID-19, have the capacity to remove the virus from surfaces in only a few minutes.  

- During the pandemic, hotels in Japan are used to take in patients with coronavirus that don’t display severe symptoms to the point of needing to be hospitalized. A humanoid robot named Pepper is being used to receive these guests in Tokyo to avoid contact with other people. Another robot, Whiz, is in charge of cleaning common areas and delivering food to guests.  

. The university Business Breakthrough, in Tokyo, used telepresence robots called Newme in a graduation ceremony. The robots were controlled by the students remotely and had the face of each student. The government of São Paulo is planning on making similar use of these robots during the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate the communication between hospitalized patients and their family members. 

- At the request of customers, during the pandemic, ZMP, a Japanese robot developer, added a new tool to the Patoro robots, used in security for companies. These machines, which are equipped with sensors and cameras, move about autonomously and now use a disinfectant spray to sanitize the environments they monitor.