robotics_4Founder and chief executive of Cafe X Technologies Henry Hu (San Francisco) answers questions on robotics in the food industry and predicts what the future might hold

Q: What will the workforce look like 20 years from now?

A: Twenty years from now, a lot of the things that humans do today will be fully automated. I think in many ways, it is changing for the better and creating new opportunities for workers. Technology and automation increase efficiency and allow workers to use their skills to better use, to maximise productivity. At Cafe X, the robot performs basic tasks like moving the cup around while our product specialists greet customers, allowing more time for meaningful human connections and providing a better customer experience. I think we’ll see this across industries where basic tasks that can be easily automated eventually will be, and it will pave the way for a workforce that is more productive and efficient.

Q: What interesting developments can we expect in robotics in the next five years?

A: Robotics will be used in areas where it makes sense technically and economically. More complex tasks will be automated and collaborative robots will help humans work more productively. One important innovation in robotics is Cloud connectivity. With data from users and various sensors, robots will essentially be ‘smarter’. They will communicate with each other and make adjustments to their programmes to be more efficient. In food service particularly, more businesses will employ robots to improve product consistency and overall efficiency. This will enable more businesses to apply resources in high quality and sustainable ingredients. This just means consumers will get better tasting and healthier food. Robots have been used in food manufacturing for a long time. Part of what is enabling robots to now be more directly customer-facing is a reduction in cost. As cost continues to come down, people will start to see more practical applications (not just for entertainment) of robots in daily life.

rob1Q: What tips do you give to people who want to start learning robotics?

A: I think the main thing you can do is to read as much as you can. There’s a ton of information out there, and a lot of people writing about the innovative work they’re doing in the robotics industry. Specifically for industrial robots (which is what we use at Cafe X), there is documentation on the websites about robot manufacturers that you can read and learn from. Honestly, Google has been a huge resource for me. You would be amazed by how many large scale and technical problems you can solve by researching on the internet.

These questions originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

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