Leading technology movies have taught us to both admire and fear robots. Of course, the “rise of the machines” scenario isn’t a reality and won’t come to fruition until we discover true artificial intelligence. And, although technology is developing rapidly, we still need to go through a lot of trial and error to get there. In other words, we must lay a foundation by continuously improving the design and application of existing robotic technologies. Even though they are undoubtedly considered “lesser” in comparison, the impact they have is still extraordinary. With that said, let’s give robotic technology a deep analysis.
What is robotic technology?
Robotic technology represents an interdisciplinary sector of engineering, science, and technology that deals with the design, construction, manufacturing, operation, and utilization of mechanical or electrical robots. It owes its existence to a variety of disciplines and ensuing technologies, mainly electrical, information, software, control systems, and mechanical engineering, but also computer science, mathematics, and artificial intelligence. Robotic technologies are also intertwined with cybernetics, a transdisciplinary approach concerned with the practical application of robotics.
Examples of robotic technology
If you’ve read our article on the pros and cons of robots, you have an idea of the areas they’re perfect for. Just in case, let’s mention prominent examples of robotic technologies:
Humans aren’t built to work at maximum mental and physical capacity day in and day out. We’re often moody, unreliable, hard to understand and manage, make mistakes, create waste, get sick, and have obligations outside of work. We also tend to suffer at dull or dangerous jobs in one way or another. Finally, to remain happy, we must advance in our careers, whether in position or salary. Robots are the exact opposite. This makes industrial and warehouse robots ideal for routine, repetitive labor that requires precision, consistency, low maintenance, insurance, and operation costs, and top-notch productivity 24/7/365.
Robots are machines that can carry complex series of actions rapidly and accurately. In doing so, they eliminate the risk of human error due to tiredness, recklessness, and inexperience, making them ideal for transportation technologies. Speaking of transportation, smart vehicles with robotic systems are all the rage nowadays. Some examples that will become widespread shortly are self-driving cars and motorcycles, the latter of which even use self-balancing robotic systems. To be fair, they still have a driving assistance role and aren’t fully autonomous. However, it’s a matter of time before we can sit back, relax, and likely even fall asleep at the wheel.
The representatives of robotics technology in the household are growing steadily. The most obvious example is perhaps cleaning robots. They can already sweep the house in regular or irregular patterns, and adapt to various surfaces, environments, and elevations without assistance. Furthermore, the ever-growing interest in personal assistant robotics technologies has already netted consumer robots in the form of humanoid, canine, and feline robotic pets, toys, and kits. They can serve as entertainment, education, or help with chores.
We, as humans, are imperfect. Unfortunately, that isn’t a valid excuse when a drop in focus, wrong prescription, improper care, or a tiny movement of the surgeon’s hands causes irreparable damage. Therefore, we welcome medical robots with open hands. They are always up to the task and can, for example, perform surgery with razor-sharp precision. Additionally, robots can control bionic limbs and prostheses, carry medical devices, administer medicine, and even serve as exoskeletons. Moreover, analysts expect humanoid robots in healthcare facilities to make a massive splash. They can soothe patients, relay answers from their database, send emergency calls after tracking vitals. Most importantly, they can connect patients, nurses, and doctors with other professionals worldwide.
Telepresence robots are mainly used by the military, researchers, and disaster response services. They go to hazardous, inaccessible, or cost-ineffective environments. For example, drones and land robots are used by the military to scout locations, detect enemy positions and explosive devices. Such robots can also carry heavy equipment, or assist and operate vehicle systems. Other prominent situations they excel at include ocean exploration and research or searching for survivors after natural or human-caused disasters. Perhaps the best-known examples are bomb-defusing and disposal robots, or those that entered Fukushima Daiichi after a 2011 nuclear disaster.
Application of robotic technology
With notable representatives pointed out, let’s move into a few areas applying robotic technology helps:
Replacing jobs and boosting productivity
Although not yet fully autonomous, robots that perform manufacturing, industrial, and warehouse tasks are one of the key reasons technology is replacing jobs. We’ll soon have robots assembling new robots, with very little human input, and we already went over why. But it’s important to realize that the widespread use of machines creates new jobs, too. Some highly sought-after occupations include resource management, programming, troubleshooting, maintenance, and technological development.
The examples mentioned above make it easy to grasp how robots shield our safety, and not only in warfare. Besides eliminating human error, carefully designed protection systems can buffer or mitigate the damage of workplace accidents. They also enter dangerous places in our stead and carry the load that would injure our bodies. Additionally, they boost the success rates of medical operations and curb the spread of diseases. It might seem funny, but robots that milk snake and scorpion venom, which is a risky undertaking otherwise, prove our point perfectly.
One thing is clear – robots need constant power. Thankfully, we have breakthroughs in energy technology to help make that happen, which is largely responsible for the leaps and bounds we made in space technology. Combining multiple technologies, robots can now get to the far reaches of space. And not only “live” to tell the tale but stay in communication and regularly send data back to Earth. Robotic machines also make up many of the systems on the International Space Station (ISS).
Helping differently-abled people
Robotic technology, specially designed for medical, emergency response, and teaching purposes, goes hand in hand with assistive technology and helps differently-abled populations live productive lives with minimal or no help from other people. Personal assistant, pet, and “butler” robots of the future will only bring more benefits to their physical and mental well-being.