Rapid developments in robotics mean that we are looking at a reality where everything from cleaning your home to medical procedures can be performed by robots. This growth causes fear for many surrounding the eradication of jobs as robots can do some tasks more efficiently and accurately than humans. While it is true that many low-skill jobs could be taken over by machinery, it now seems that more complex procedures such as surgeries could be assigned to automation. Yet there are positives to robotics, as there so much it can assist us with and make easier in our lives. Here we will take a look at the most recent advances in the field of robotics.
The DaVinci Surgical System
Brilliant minds today have used the ever expanding range of technology at our hands to develop robotics that specialise in the medical field. They have created a range of AI that can take a person’s pulse, assess their vitals, read case notes and now it is predicted that in the future robots will perform surgical procedures. They will ease the pressure and demand on doctors and nurses in the healthcare system today. Patients will be seen to quicker, and of course complex cases with high risk will be handled by a human doctor. The daVinci machine is a new instrument which is controlled by a surgeon at all times and makes incisions to the body with expert precision. This level of accuracy minimises risk of bleeding occurring and infection from happening. It is a staple in many theatres worldwide and has been in use for almost two decades. It is continually being worked on and improved.
Everyday new discoveries occur and technology advances. The exosuit is one such robotic advancement. It is a suit that the user can wear to help build their muscular strength. This is aimed particularly towards elderly people and those with bodily impairments such as MS or Parkinson’s disease. The suit is light, stretchy and aids the user’s balance and bodily strength when walking or performing physical tasks. The suit is personalised to the user, so the wearer can modify it to suit their needs. It will take a while before it is in regular use and available to purchase, but is exciting to watch mature in production as it comes to fruition.
Atlas Does Parkour
An astonishing development that has unfolded before us is robot Atlas performing parkour in a series of videos uploaded online. Atlas belongs to Boston Dynamics, a robotics design company from Massachusetts. They continually work to programme Atlas to perform increasingly difficult physical tasks, making Atlas one of the most impressive robots to date. The robot is 75 kilograms and 1.5 metres tall, but performs these tasks with ease. In the videos we see it begins jogging and then leap over a log. What comes next is even more monumental. We watch as Atlas leaps from wooden box to wooden box, using its artificial legs to propel itself to each box which is increasingly higher than the previous box. It performs this task with relative ease and without breaking stride. Boston Dynamics have previously shown us Atlas’ other accomplishments, including its balance, its motor skills and it can even do a backflip. For a person who struggles to walk in a straight line without tripping over something, this is very impressive!
PARO Therapeutic Robot
There is extensive research that cements the idea that children with mental issues respond brilliantly to animal therapy. Of course, this presents some issues when dealing with live animals such as infections or animal behavioural problems. The PARO robotics are manufactured to look like baby seals and eliminates this problem, as their cute look and sense of realism allow children to form a real connection with the robot. They can interact with it as if it was a live animal. These robots are programmed to imitate animal’s behaviour, such as blinking, recognising their name and can also express different moods and reactions based on the child’s behaviour towards them. It is truly impressive programming that is making a huge difference in many children’s lives.
These robots may seem less advanced than other counterparts, but they are manufactured with complex and intricate internal systems to provide many functions for the user. They use cutting-edge technology to recognise speech and turn that into coding that the robot processes and then gives the correct response. They have become increasingly popular with elderly people and invalids alike to provide company, support and perform basic tasks that the owner may have trouble with. If the user has a fall or becomes ill, the robot will contact an ambulance and any emergency contacts. These robots are true lifesavers, and give a form of independence back to the user. The BUDDY companion robot recently won 2018 Best of Innovation Award, and we can expect these to become a household name in future decades.
The Helping Hand laboratory of Northeastern University, Boston is working on a new project poised to revolutionise the lives of many – a wheelchair complete with a robotic arm. This arm is being programmed to have the ability to lift domestic items and perform simple functions and basic household tasks for the user who cannot do this themselves. This gives some freedom to those who are wheelchair bound, and can empower them to live alone without relying on others. Robert Platt, head of the Helping Hands lab, professed his intrigue with using robotics to perform physical tasks that can help with real issues that people experience every day. It will help many people upon its release!