complications, faster recovery times
and, typically, much better outcomes.
Eldercare is the next frontier. We’re
seeing significant aging, and people will
typically have to leave their homes for
facilities, either because they can't
manage their medical regimen or because
they lack mobility. Robots can provide
assistance so that people can get reminders to take their medications; help
them get in and out of bed; do simple
things like picking up the remote control
or glasses when they fall on the floor.
This will give people a higher degree of
independence. They can live better lives
for a longer time.
Let’s talk transportation and self-
driving cars and trucks, which people
might not think about as robotics.
This is going to be a big revolution.
There are five levels of autonomy for
self-driving cars. Level one is very basic
assistance to the driver. At level two and
three, the car can park autonomously.
Level four is what we're starting to see
with Tesla, with extended periods of time
where the car is driving in traffic well.
At level five, there is no steering wheel—
like an Uber with no driver.
Most automotive companies forecast
that by 2020, vehicles will be available
with extended periods of time where
you don't have to be in charge. Imagine:
during 80 percent of your commute,
you don’t have to hold the steering wheel.
You read your newspaper, or drink
coffee, or start to work even before
you get to the office.
The estimate is that in 10 years
we will see level-five cars without
If we have autonomous driving cars, we
could put at least twice as many cars on
the road without making traffic worse.
This would actually improve traffic, but
without investments in infrastructure.
This will also have an impact beyond
the automotive sector. I think we're going
to go from owning cars to cars becoming
a service. I use my car two percent of its
lifetime. The remaining 98 percent, it's
just sitting in a parking lot. What if I
could use ride sharing, and the cost of
my car goes down significantly?
So it's going to give people autonomy,
it can change our infrastructure, and
it's going to drive down costs.
What are the challenges for the field?
We need to make sure we can build
robots that are as dexterous as humans.
Robots are far from possessing that level
of dexterity. We also need more flexible
materials and fine-tuned sensors.
We’re also relatively far from having the
kind of artificial intelligence that would
allow robots to actually reason about the
world around them and interact with
people in a way that feels natural.
We need interfaces that work for people
who don’t have a degree in computer
science or have never used a computer.
We need to make sure we don't build a
digital divide between those who can use
this technology and those who can't.
Finally, the price of robotic systems has
to come down so they are accessible to
everyone. Robots have to be affordable
both in the industrialized world and the
The most important thing we can say
is to make sure you get a good education.
Because no matter what, the world is
changing rapidly, and education allows
you to ride the wave rather than be