WRITER: SUCHIT LEESA-NGUANSUK
Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, service robots are gathering steam among medical, retail and eatery sectors as a way to address social distancing measures.
The adoption is also being supported by the availability of 5G network and lower costs of the involved technology.
"We can turn the Covid-19 crisis into opportunity as the pandemic will fast forward the digital economy and Industry 4.0 in Thailand to take shape by next year, instead of 5-6 years in the earlier projection," said Djitt Laowattana, executive advisor for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office of Thailand.
The robotic and automation market is valued at 600-700 billion baht, he said, adding foreign firms are interested in investing in Thailand, particularly the EEC, partly because the country is willing to leverage robots in business operations.
Before the pandemic, robots were mostly used in the manufacturing sector but the crisis has now pushed up the use of robots in service and medical sectors. Thailand also has engineers, academics and system integrators for robot creation.
Robots have now been deployed in hospitals to facilitate delivery of medical supplies and meals to patients and to assist physicians in remotely communicating with them for diagnosis to ward off risk of infection.
In other industries, robots have been more used in warehouses for logistics operations, restaurants for food serving as well as retail spaces for temperature checks and navigation.
To equip robots with medical devices, there is a need to take into account healthcare standard compliance, Mr Djitt said.
The 5G network coverage will also be a boon for the communication between robots and control rooms as the set-up of WiFi networks to cover large areas would be more costly.