India has now touched the mark of 3.31 million Coronavirus cases and has seen more than 60,000 deaths; the country has registered the third highest COVID-19 death toll globally.
The pandemic has, naturally, forced people to ‘pivot and persist’ in order to adapt to the new normal. This strategy has also been adopted by garment stores in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, where a saree-clad humanoid called ‘Zafira’ greets customers at the store entrance, along with the sanitisers.
The voice-activated humanoid, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), also gives the count of customers entering the store at a given time. Besides, she checks if they maintain safety protocols like social distancing and wear masks while entering the store. Zafira also checks the temperature of customers and dispenses the sanitiser. Although the humanoid currently wears a saree, it can be dressed in all kinds of outfits.
Zafirs is one among the ‘Zafo robots’ that are manufactured by Tiruchirapalli-based startup Propeller Technologies.
“We’ve been developing robots ever since COVID-19 broke out and the nationwide lockdown was imposed, to help frontline workers. The robot has a complete intelligence system. It can also track the number of people entering a store at a time and send details to owners via email, daily,” Aashik Rahman, CEO of Propeller Technologies, told ANI.
The company now plans to increase the production of robots, after they received an overwhelming response from several showrooms in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
During the lockdown, several companies have stepped up their game to ensure social distancing and other guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus. In April, Bengaluru-based Invento Robotics launched C-Astra, a robot which helps screen patients and disinfects common areas. The autonomous mobile unit can move around lobbies and hallways, and can sanitise rooms.
Gurgaon-based startup Milagrow HumanTech also launched four new humanoid robots recently. Named RoboDiCaprio, RoboJulia, RoboNano, and RoboElf, they can interact with customers, perform tasks, and can also move around independently.
(Edited by Athira Nair)