Are robots the next step in human evolution? Is it only natural that we integrate robots into our daily lives and learn to live equally side by side? Maybe, and maybe not. That is a very deep question that, really, nobody can give an answer to. However, it’s undeniable that modern robotics has advanced even more, further stretching and bending our idea of where a living thing stops and a robot begins. Here are just a few examples.
Most people won’t consider Saudi Arabia as the most liberal state out there. However, this is the very first state ever to give full citizenship rights to a robot. That’s right – Sophia was officially given Saudi Arabian citizenship, with all the rights and privileges that come with that. This goes to show just how human-like this robot is. It’s perfectly capable of holding long and complex conversations, can show a variety of facial expressions, and read yours too! She’s made many public and media appearances. She even participated in the Jimmy Fallon Show!
Stanford University engineering team has created this robot with the purpose of being able to help in major disasters like earthquakes or tornados, by getting to some hard-to-reach places and delivering necessities to the survivors. This little snek-hero can contract and extend in ways that allow it to squeeze through unimaginable cracks and holes, all the while carrying water or basic first aid kit essentials. The front end of the robot contains a small camera, which allows for remote control, so a professional can be operating several of these, greatly extending the amount of lives he or she might save in a short period of time.
This robot, although having a pretty basic name, is actually a pretty advanced piece of technology. Unlike most modern robots which focus on movement and usually either walk on two or four legs, the Handle runs on two wheels, with two relatively short arm-like extremities on the top with weighs at the end which help with keeping balance. This robot can make some pretty impressive stunts, is incredibly fast and can maneuver extremely well in harsh conditions such as heavy snow or mud.
This isn’t a specific robot made by a single company, but rather a trend that we’re seeing in the robotics market recently. Many companies offer differently shaped and sized cargo bots that all serve the same, self-explanatory purpose – to carry your cargo. Whether you’re going on a trip or just need to carry over some bulky stuff to your friend, these little fellas will be sure to follow you on your journey, all the while carrying anything you put in them. With improved battery life and almost non-existent noise, these truly are becoming the perfect travel companions.
How could we forget about them? We’ve all cried when Opportunity’s mission came to an end and it was left alone on Mars (and that’s perfectly okay!). All of these robots are invaluable to modern science, all the way from biology to astrophysics. The information they send and experiments they conduct in the harsh environment of space is crucial in understanding our own origin, future, and opportunities, pardon the pun. Elon Musk couldn’t have even gotten the idea of terraforming Mars if these faithful rovers didn’t send the information on Mars’ atmosphere, sediments and climate! And let’s also not forget all the satellites and that life-saving GPS they provide us with.
Robots in medicine
Speaking of robots in science and saving lives, medical robots naturally pop to mind. Although there still wasn’t a major breakthrough in the form of a completely autonomous robot that can perform surgery, there are some significant advancements in that direction. Even without full autonomy, robots are crucially important in aiding human surgeons as they operate. No matter how experienced or well-trained, each surgeon’s hand will tremble a little, whereas a robot’s wouldn’t. Incorporations of robots in medicine such as the da Vinci system have already saved countless lives, and will only continue to do so as time goes on and technology advances.
We’ve covered some new and interesting trends on the robotics scene. However, that doesn’t diminish their important role in some more mundane tasks. Packaging and processing of products, industrial control, even vacuuming or pool cleaning, are all jobs robots are already doing on a large scale.
More and more companies are opting to include robots in their workforce instead of people, due to the low price, low maintenance cost, no additional fees such as insurances, and much higher efficacy that they offer. This has become so widespread, in fact, that there are movements against the inclusion of robots in factories, as people are losing jobs rapidly, and the ones that still have them fear of this upcoming trend.
The benefits and potential of robotics is undeniable, and it’s not a question whether or not this field of science will continue its development. In what directions and through what kind of innovation, on the other hand, remains to be seen.