A bit of science fiction is part of everyday life: robots have long since found their way into our homes. How are the helpers already changing the way we live and work?
They have already arrived in our household: robots. Whether as vacuum cleaners, floor wipers, or lawnmowers – the technical helpers simplify our lives wherever they can. Equipped with special sensors, they orientate themselves in the apartment or the field without having to rely on humans for this. And even humanoid robots are already a reality. For example “NAO”, which you can see in the picture above, and program yourself. He’s not just cute, he’s a real all-rounder who even competes against his peers in his own soccer tournament in the “RoboCup”.
Robots in the workplace
The world of work is also being revolutionized by digital helpers. In medicine, operating systems such as the “Da Vinci” robot help with minimally invasive operations while the doctor gives the orders. And in modern industry, robots have long been the order of the day. Specializing in a specific movement sequence, they help with assembly in automobile production, for example, and can relieve people, especially when it comes to monotonous or dangerous work.
tween humans and robots could even disappear completely in the future. So-called “cobots”, which stands for “collaborative robots”, no longer need a specially delimited protective area. On the contrary, they were specially developed for “collaborative” work with people in the industry. They are based on the human arm and can perform very sensitive movements.
And how does it continue?
Robots today still need people to program them with specific commands. For example, the instructions on how the cobot should move are programmed on a tablet. But researchers and developers are working on “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning”. This would mean that robots can draw on their existing knowledge, draw conclusions from it and thus continuously develop.
Robotics and Bionics
The first humanoid, Wabot-1, was built in 1973 at Waseda University in Japan with the first sight, limited movement, and even a language module for basic Japanese sentences.
Finally, in the late 1970s, robots could be used in environments too dangerous for humans, such as burning houses, nuclear reactors, volcanic craters, or on the seafloor. Since the human gait is difficult to simulate, the developers looked to the animal kingdom for inspiration, especially for tasks on uneven surfaces, and therefore developed bionics as a new area of research.
Thanks to models such as the perfect aerodynamics of a bird’s wing, but also the secure position of an insect’s leg, bionics was able to give robotics a completely new impetus. In this way, apparatuses could be built that can run on water without sinking.
Medicine: The automated operating room
However, the most rapid progress took place in medicine. In just twenty years, the operating room was transformed into a high-tech laboratory. In addition to traditional tools like scalpels and clamps, surgeons now have endoscopes that give them a close look inside the body, either through cameras or even 3D models. Your hand movements are transferred to robotized arms so that even remote operations are possible.
In the 1990s, science did pioneering work in this field with robot models such as ZEUS and Da Vinci by making operations on the human body safer, more comfortable, and more precise. Increasingly better cameras showed up to 100x zoom and thus made it possible to treat diseases that were previously considered incurable. In addition, the software filters out involuntary tremors in the surgeons’ hands.
If even these methods are not precise enough, the precision robots come into play. These can, for example, carry out skin transplants on burn victims. The transplants may only be a few tenths of a millimeter thick. The logical next step: nanorobots that move on the scale of atoms and can reproduce themselves, similar to human cells.
These technologies have the potential to open completely new doors in science. The renowned scientific journal The Futurist speculates about a toothpaste that is mixed with nanorobots and automatically removes plaque.
Military: War of the Robots
But military use quickly became one of the main areas of application for robots. During the Cold War, the United States took advantage of its lead in this area and pushed ahead with war automation. In 1984, the PROWLER was the first automatic firing system that can distinguish between friend and foe.
Machines should be built that imitate humans in various ways. This includes area reconnaissance, as well as collection and identification of the data obtained. In addition, so-called pilot assistants should help with evasive maneuvers to avoid long reaction times in emergencies.