Service robots in demand, Japan’s AI population plan and energy storage solutions
Why demand for service robots is on the rise, how AI could help Japan boost its birth rate, why the Paris Agreement is more urgent than ever and good news for renewable energy. Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities.
Demand for service robots on the rise
Economic uncertainty is driving an increase in sales of professional service robots, to support employees in sectors with unpredictable demand on labour requirements, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) says. COVID-19 has increased demand for robots that can safely disinfect buildings from hospitals to supermarkets, while products like robot vacuum cleaners are also popular with households. The IFR forecasts that sales of logistics robots, with uses ranging from delivering supplies in hospitals to picking items from warehouses, will increase 97% between 2020 and 2023, while sales of cleaning robots are expected to rise 41% over the same period.
Love in an algorithm
Japan’s latest effort to boost its birth rate to overcome the crisis of an aging population has seen it turn to artificial intelligence to help people find love, BBC News reports. The government plans to allocate ¥2bn ($19m) as subsidies to local governments to invest in matchmaking services that use more sophisticated algorithms to pair up users based on their values rather than more basic criteria like age and interests. Last year the number of babies born in Japan fell below 865,000 - a record low.
Climate target more urgent than thought
Five years after the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, it appears the world may have less time than expected to curb emissions, according to New Scientist. New research from the UK’s University of East Anglia and the Metrological Office suggests that the earth might be 18% warmer than previously thought, and have already risen 1.07˚C since the Industrial Revolution, compared to a previous estimate of 0.91˚C.
Renewable energy storage solutions increase
More positively, new energy storage facilities around the world will overcome one of the main challenges of wind and solar power, Yale Environment 360 reports. Plants across the US, Europe and South America are among those that will be able to store excess energy from solar panels and wind farms and feed it back into the grid at times when they are not able to produce power, smoothing imbalances between supply and demand. This could be key to expanding the reach of renewable energy and accelerating the carbon transition.
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