Everyone perhaps remembers the video that recently went viral where a Pakistani man gifted a robot that he and his teammates built to his newly wedded wife on their big day. The robot named ALLISON according to Muhammad Nabeel is Pakistan’s first consumer robot. Though a restaurant in Multan launched a robot which was seen as a waiter, helping around as a server, the news of which also went viral and doubled sales for the restaurant based on the news itself.
Speaking to IDG Pakistan about the inspiration behind ALLISON, Nabeel said
“ALLISON is my dream to make the Pakistan’s first consumer robot that help my parents and wife to perform daily homechores, i.e.; grocery buying, dusting and mopping etc. It is the beginning of introducing consumer robots in Pakistani market.”
Nabeel currently runs EDVON; a Pakistani robot manufacturing company that will enable the academia to provide STEM based Robotics Education as early as school level. Plans for ALLISON include developing it as one of the most advance consumer robots worldwide. According to Nabeel they are also working on embedding AI into ALLISON so that she can communicate with people and help them to solve daily task using her intelligent algorithm.
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One of the main challenges for them has been getting funding from the industry. According to Nabeel, one of the main reasons for that has been due to the fact the industry does not of yet realize the importance of robots.
He furthermore went on to state that automation and robotics is the future, and that the industry needs to start taking significant steps to be able to compete globally.
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Introducing a robot at wedding was perhaps a first, when asked about its reception on his big day Nabeel joked that the bride was angry at the spotlight being taken away. He added,
“Jokes apart she really liked the gift and for guests it is an amazing experience. It is the first time for all of them that a robot is talking to them and welcoming them at reception.”
According to Nabeel the current version of ALLISON consists of advance controllers, vision processing and voice recognition. More versions are to come up soon in the future. The robot (and the wedding ceremony!) received a lot of media traction all over Pakistan for its uniqueness.
Interview conducted/edited by: IDG