- Materials & Industrial Technology
Robots Of The Future
Take a Step Back
Robots. Simply described as 'automatic motorised tools' that add value to a process in our lives. They do, and are projected to play huge roles throughout our lives. From the first time you saw a toaster pop up your breakfast, or the first time you enjoyed a hot drink made by your electric kettle, we've gradually become more comfortable relying on 'robots'.
Nowadays, robots record our TV shows, cook our food, run our transport and play our music. Just because they don't have a face as sometimes portrayed by pop culture and mainstream media, it doesn't mean they aren't robots.
Some people are anti-robot, in the sense that they think they will take their job, do their thinking for them and change their lives too much. To these people, I would say one thing before we go into more detail.
Take a step back and look at the bigger picture - these incredibly useful aids help us achieve amazing things. This hub will take you through some discussion of robots, some of the robots we could expect to see in the near future - and detail some examples of where we need to be careful with robots.
Learn about Robot Pets, Rescue Robots, Robot Prosthetics, Caregiver & Personal Robots, Walking & Running Robots, New Pizza Delivery Robot, Flying Drone Delivery and discover reader opinions!
Who would want a robot pet? Well, turns out a lot of people would. There have been small signs of this coming through the likes of kids toys, originating with cuddly stuffed animal toys, developing to plastic animals that 'bark' and 'meow' to back-flipping dog toys. The future expects robot pets to become a thing, with the likes of toy company Hasbro developing a line of robotic cats that are aimed at the elderly.
There is proof that having a pet comes with various health perks, which for the elderly can mean an awful lot. Health perks such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and the encouragement of exercise, to name a few. Owning a real pet requires time and efforts that can be hard work for these people, thus making your companion a robot that provides the best of both worlds.
The pet robots by Hasbro has sensors that responds to touch, and has built in speakers that make familiar noises and support natural cat-like actions. The robotic cat will sleep if you are not interacting with it, but will wake up if it senses nearby movement or to a simple touch.
While this development comes somewhat as expected following previous developments through toy and robot like pets, the future could hold even more. Some robotic pets could be programmed to help you with your daily living, whether it's to remind you to take your medication or to provide security through video and sound recording, you may well find yourself the proud owner of a robot pet soon.
While one could argue that the aircraft, ships and tracking systems employed to help rescue people already is the use of hundreds of different robots, there may be something more specific and objective through the form of an actual rescue robot.
What I mean by this, is the following. Imagine you've taken a hike through unfamiliar forest in an unfamiliar land. It's cold, it's wet and the darkness has set in. You're not prepared for the conditions that lie ahead and you are due back to your camp in an hour. Your GPS and mobile phone is out of battery and you're stuck without food. A nasty situation you're in where among many other emotional thoughts you might be thinking to yourself "oh I wish I'd paid more attention to that survival TV show last week".
Well, you'd need a ranger, aircraft, helicopter in the form of a search team to come and locate you, then rescue you. There should be a better way. These types of scenarios, among many other situations that require rescue missions are the reason for the development of rescue robots. Ten years into the future and you might find hundreds of tiny intelligent robots
All terrain robots will function as a team by sharing their discoveries, current locations, patterns for search and more. The large robots could carry the smaller ones, providing them with local control and power. The smaller robots will have cameras, sonar, hear sensors, motion detectors and be sent out by the large ATR's. It would be possible for smaller robots to not only work in teams to locate someone, but also to move large obstacles.
Prosthetic limbs have been around for a while now. While they originated as an alternative to captain hook's famous hook that replaced his hand to make for a more real limb, technological developments have meant that there have been breakthroughs in robot prosthetics.
Mechanical limbs are used for those unfortunate enough to lose real limbs, of which we might see in the mainstream media through the Paralympics. Many of these limbs are designed to aid body movements through their build structure. While these have been incredibly important and useful for many people, there could be even better news coming.
A modular hand was recently constructed and applied to a paralysed patient to feel sensations through the prosthesis. The individual was able to send signals from his brain to the hand on a two way communication basis, that was accomplished by running wires connected to the electrodes on the patients sensory cortex and motor cortex.
The success of this particular case was so great, that when the scientists decided to press two fingers instead of one while he was blindfolded, he was able to tell. This one particular case offers great news for the future, meaning that one day amputees and those suffering from paralysis will have access to mind control prosthesis that allow individuals to feel once again.
Caregiver & Personal Robot
You might have seen Big Hero 6 with the epic super personal care-giving robot known as Baymax. Well if you have, then you'll kind of get the idea of this one. While we don't expect your personal care bot to be able to fly and shoot rockets from his hand, you might well be able to make use of similar care giving abilities.
Clean your floors, bring you a beer, help you cooking and help you with your health are all things we could expect from near-future caregiver and personal robots. There are already a number of robots that can achieve these feats for you, but come at a price that most of us won't be looking to spend. Further development and hype around these robots, that could benefit our lives in the most direct way could soon mean that we can buy an affordable, useful and life improving robot.
There are indeed robots such as Care-o-Bot and the PR2 that have been developed and programmed for these reasons. Equipped with sensors, speakers, AI, information about you and location settings, these robots are proving an exiting prospect for future consumers.
Walking & Running Robots
Walking and running robots have landed. They have a number of uses, with active robots working in fields such as chemical clothing testing (PETMAN). This robot works to mimic human movements when in conditions that test chemical clothing. The robot is not only able to walk, but also is programmed to simulate real human physiology, including body temperature, humidity and sweating to provide the most accurate and realistic conditions.
There are already many uses for walking and running robots, ranging from helping to deliver something from A to B (usually in an industrial or military setting) that a wheeled device couldn't do. We've even seen walking robotic style used in children's pet toys (see robot pets section) in the form of walking toy pet dogs.
Walking robots are also intertwined with ekoskeletons, which are designed to support those that are either carry heavy loads, doing something physically that a human alone cannot, or for the paralysed. This ekoskeleton is essentially a structure that wraps around your body, arms or legs (or all) and are used to aid walking and carry large loads. You might have seen photos of soldiers using ekoskeletons to aid their work.
Walking robots are incredibly complex and will prove to be important for the future of robots. As they are made up of hugely important flexible chain cables, they require careful construction and maintenance.
Any sidekick that our future selves will have to help us with our daily chores or help us with our work are going to use a feature similar to this, so let's hope robot engineers can grasp this one fully.
DRU - The Domino's Pizza Delivery Robot
A recent development that hit media headlines worldwide was the announcement and showcasing of 'DRU'.
Standing for 'Domino's Robotic Unit', DRU is 3 ft tall battery towered robot that is complete with a heated compartment that can store up to 10 pizzas at any time.
The robot makes use of self-driving technologies that have been trialled from many car manufacturers, which means that it can use sensors to avoid and overcome any obstacles that it may run into during the delivery trip.
The robot is able to make a trip up to 12.5 miles from its shop and ensures customers safely receive their pizza, as you cannot access the goods without the unique code. It is currently being tested in New Zealand and is undoubtedly considered a bit of fun, but gives us an insight into how the future may look - not only for pizza delivery, but for self-driving robotic technology.
Globe leading firms such as Amazon and Ali Baba are among the other big players that are working to improve their delivery systems, with recent hype and talk surrounding the use of special drones to delver goods to customers!
Ali Baba Drone Delivery
The Dangers of Trusting Robots
To start this section, I'd like to tell a short story to give you a somewhat humorous insight to how robots may be dangerous.
---In February 2015, a South Korean woman fell asleep on her living room floor, while her robot vacuum cleaner was on and in operation. As the vacuum robot undertook it's duties of keeping the floor clean and tidy, it made it's way over to the lady, as she slept on the floor. Seconds later, the vacuum robot began 'eating' her hair, which resulted in the poor lady having to call for emergency help.---
While this story isn't exactly what we expected when Stephen Hawking warned us that intelligent devices spell the end of the human race, but it does highlight that there are in fact unexpected dangers of allowing robots into our homes.
There are many other example of situations when robots have gone wrong, be it fake robot profiles to trick people on social media and email to take personal information, or where the self driving car unexpectedly crashes and causes serious injury.
The first human to be killed by a 'robot' was in 1979, in an auto factory in the US. This clearly shows that the threat of robot accidents is present - and with further development, could escalate without proper management.
When a robot does make a mistake, it can be unclear where the responsibility lies. For example, with military robots, there are a number of different contributors that have each provided different hardware, software and intelligence that have resulted in the final piece. If this robot causes a problem or accident, who exactly is accountable? The programmer? The manufacturer? The weapon review team? The military procurement manager? The field commander? The robot's operator? The leader of the country? Yes, you get the point. It's unclear.
Proceeding carefully would be the first thing to do. Robots should be programmed extensively to follow out laws and ethics. We don't want law abusing, people tricking, information stealing, murdering cyborgs on the loose do we now!
An interesting hub detailing his opinion combined with facts is one by William J Prest. Titled: Robots: Possible Take Over of the World. Worth a read if you find this interesting!
The Public Opinion
So, from your toaster to terminator, robots come in all shapes and sizes. They are designed to do all sorts of different jobs and functions and are designed with the ultimate aim of changing our lives in the future.
Having spent time reviewing opinions of some of the HubPages users on the future of robots, I've found mixed ideas and opinions on the future of robots, questioning whether they will take our jobs - and maybe even one day take over the world!
"Robots won't take over our jobs" - 'Michael H' (mikejhca)
"I don't think that robots would take over human jobs in the future. At least not most of them. Employees are consumers. They make money and use that money to buy things. For the economy to work you need supply and demand. Robots taking over human jobs would take away the demand. You can't replace humans unless we stop using money and people get things for free".
"I do think robots will take our jobs" - (danicole)
"Yes I do think that robots would take over human jobs in the future (not all jobs but most). Once major business/franchise owners get tired of shelling out cents to foreign workers and outsourcing they are probably going to invest in robots that they don't have to pay and program them to do menial jobs)".
A final word from the author...
"Not just for fun, but for necessity. If it works, embrace it, enjoy it, learn from it and expand on them".
What do you think?