Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) company Megvii Technology believes the value of AI lies in the physical world where it powers robots with algorithms.
"AI didn't create more demand. It merely provided better solutions for existing needs," Tang Wenbin, co-founder and CTO of Megvii, said in a recent interview with CGTN at the company's headquarters in Beijing.
Megvii mainly applies AI in logistics automation in warehouse scenarios, where robots are programmed to perform tasks faster and more accurately aided by algorithms and sensors.
Using robots in logistics is nothing new, but to coordinate a range of equipment in a limited space requires integrated solutions.
Under a smart warehousing scenario, autonomous robots are deployed for moving and picking items, while AI and machine learning are used to improve the performance of robotics systems in logistics.
Algorithm-commanded robots can actively look for tasks in real time and collaborate with each other to increase efficiency, Tang said.
On top of that, these robots are also equipped with cameras and sensors, that work like "eyes" for them, he added.
"We also want to think of better coordination between devices by optimizing our system algorithm."
According to Tang, Megvii's 3D pallet shuttle can move pallets that are up to 1.5 tonnes, or help with packaging and sorting, but he also constantly seeks new types of robots that could help solve different problems.
Value addition to the physical world
With the rapid evolution of algorithms and different types of robots, the application of these intelligent connected devices, or Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), can be expanded, Tang said.
Apart from warehousing, AI-powered robots can be customized for smart farming, especially for plantations in land-scarce cities.
For example, tulip yields can be substantially enhanced by using smart farming, where layers upon layers of flowers are taken care of together on a certain area of land. However, plants require certain amount of sunlight and water as well, and that's where the AIoT comes in.
"The robots will move a layer of tulip that needs sunlight or supply them with water based on computer vision and AI calculation," Tang said.
"With new forms (of robots), integrated algorithms and unit-based perception, I think they'll bring a lot more new things."