When we think of robots we don’t tend to think of them as an integral part of day to day life. However, in today’s world this would be a mistake. From nano-robots to the Mars rover, robots really do come in all shapes and sizes. This short read looks at some of the exciting new tech which has the potential to transform the world.
Medicine is a field which has resisted the automation movement for decades. While it might be difficult to imagine a robot taking your blood, administering an injection, or even undertaking surgeries, this has the potential to change. Remote surgery is an area which has been tried and tested multiple times. In Canada, Dr Anvari has been carrying out this type of surgery for years. He claims that it is very similar to doing it in person, allowing him to perform many surgeries in community hospitals which wouldn’t necessarily have the expertise to conduct some of the procedures.
Another example that could facilitate great change is microscopic robots. Researchers at the university of Michigan have announced that they have created micro walking robots which are smaller than 0.1mm and are only visible under a microscope. They have been tested under highly acidic environments and at numerous different temperatures which gives positive indications for being injectable to combat difficult surgeries. This is a massive leap in robotics which could lead to surgeries being helped by microscopic robots reducing risks, costs and loss of life.
A company in Pittsburgh (Safe Space Technologies) have developed an autonomous robot to sanitise areas. This works by the robot producing an intense UV beam to kill any traces of micro-organisms. UV light has 3 different categories, UVA, UVB, and UVC. The earth’s atmosphere filters out UVC, meaning that the majority of species would be damaged if becoming exposed. Safe Space Technologies have used this fact to create an autonomous robot that is able of going into a room, scanning for human life, and if none is detected, sanitising the area using UVC light. This kills virus’ and bacteria alike, allowing it to be used in the fight against COVID-19. This technology has the power to prevent solvents being used regularly by human cleaners reducing risk for them, as well as reducing the environmental impact of cleaning solutions.
In the energy sector, automation has been happening for years. Nuclear power plants run on automation, with very little human input on day to day operations. Offshore wind on the other hand, is a lot more complicated. Most windfarms require good maintenance due to the harsh conditions found at sea, with the corrosive properties of sea water being a particularly difficult challenge. What robots really bring, is the opportunity to bring humans out of harsh challenging environments, thereby increasing safety while reducing helicopter flights and therefore carbon emissions. Boston Dynamics are one company who have helped develop a robot capable of meeting the demands of working offshore. The robot named Spot, is used to locate anomalies in machinery, which is then flagged and investigated further. This prevents systems needing a human to physically check all areas, which will reduce costs and increase safety and thereby make offshore windfarms a more viable investment.
In the military robots have always been thought of a valuable asset to assist soldiers on the battlefield. Novel technology developed by the University of California in conjunction with the US Army is being trialled to attempt to help soldiers identify IEDs before it is too late. This technology utilises LiDAR, a technology similar to radar or sonar, which uses lasers to map an area by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection. This in conjunction with an AI system, is able to detect subtle changes to the land which would not be picked up by the human eye, allowing soldiers to identify potential threats. This technology has the potential to change guerrilla warfare, thereby potentially reducing death tolls in future wars.
Robots are entering spheres that once were thought to be science fiction. From conducting surgeries to handling some of the harshest environments, their technological advancement has come in leaps and bounds. Yet even though these robots are reducing risks and potentially saving lives, this comes at the cost of displacing human jobs. The future is understanding these robots rather than resisting the change that they will bring, investing in training and development so your employees will not be the ones to suffer.
Sources: bbc.com, newscientist.com, theindependent.co.uk, triblive.com, newatlas.com. All accessed [28/08/2020]