Robots are coming — and in many cases, are already here — but are they out to steal your jobs or just make life easier? At Inman Connect in San Francisco on Tuesday, real estate technology experts tried to allay the fears that many have about robots in everyday life.
“To me a robot isn’t what we see in The Jetsons or what Boston Dynamics is doing,” said Kylie Davis, CoreLogic’s head of content for Australia and New Zealand. “To me it’s about [artificial intelligence] and voice activation — any sort of virtual assistant.”
What are robots already doing?
California-based property management company Zenplace is already using robots to show rentals.
Imagine driving by a property and seeing a for-rent sign on a home or apartment you like. If it’s a Zenplace listing, you can send the company a picture of your identification, and it generates a unique, one-time code that will allow you enter the property where you’ll be greeted by a 3-foot tall robot — or multiple if there’s more than one floor because they can’t climb stairs yet.
“It will give you a property tour, it will answer questions that you might have,” said Rahul Mewawalla, CEO of Zenplace. “And it’s all being managed by agents.”
He added, “You could be sitting at the Inman conference and be doing a property showing in Denver.”
In Australia, Davis said she’s already seeing robots take hold to automate content, videos and reports or clean up databases.
“What [robots are] going to let us do is deliver a higher quality of customer service more consistently,” Davis said. “As human beings, we find it very hard to be consistent all the time because we get so busy doing stuff.”
What can robots be doing in 5 years?
In the next five years, Davis is hoping that robots will be able to push technology enough to actually make life easier as has often been predicted.
“For every job it took off of us, it gave us five more things to learn,” Davis said. “What I see with the robot technology is that it will take all of that busy stuff away from us and let us be humans again.”
Mewawalla said the biggest roadblock for business productivity is time and five years down the line, robots will help businesses be more productive but completing tasks more expeditiously.
There’s a thought, he said, that robots will make people lazy, but the technology can actually just simply increase your business. If robot technology allows Zenplace to lease a new apartment in just a few days, then it can manage more properties.