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For quite a long time, in the ideas about the future, humanity can’t do without robots — mechanical assistants of man, who are able to perform various operations according to the program which is laid down in them and who are capable of reacting to the environment. In today’s article from the “Technologies of the Future” series, we will tell you more about how the development of robotics will contribute to changing people’s lives.
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The world leaders in robotics are Germany and Japan, which produce more than half of all robotic products in the world. The term “robotics” and its three laws were coined in 1942 by the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, and the word “robot”, which comes from the Czech word” robota”, meaning” hard, forced labor”, appeared even earlier in a play by the Czech writer Karel Capek in 1920.
The robotics industry is just over forty years old, dating back to 1980 when Japan began to manufacture robots commercially, based on a boom in high-tech manufacturing. Robotics is divided into construction, industrial, household, aviation and extreme, but do not forget that all developments in this field, as a rule, begin with laboratory and amateur.
Despite the extreme variety of robots, they all have three components: mechanical (something moves), electrical (it takes energy for something to move) and computer (something should not move randomly, but according to predefined algorithms, performing useful work).
The first robots were industrial automated systems that made it possible to replace people on the assembly line. For example, in the automotive industry, it is robots that collect up to 50% of the entire car. There are even so-called factories with “off the lights” (IBM in Texas), where the assembly of keyboards for computers is 100% automated.
We have already talked about the future of autonomous vehicles in our previous article, which is also one of the demonstrations of the robotization of the surrounding world. In addition, today robots take care of household chores (robots-vacuum cleaners and robots that load dishes into the dishwasher), medical robots that perform minimally invasive operations are widely used in healthcare, and robots have also found application in agriculture and other areas of human life.
Perhaps the most prominent representatives of the industry are the “favorites” of Boston Dynamics, which periodically exposes its next achievements in its own YouTube channel. The work of this company can not only move around, but also overcome various obstacles, open doors independently, jump and even dance or do somersaults. Behind each of these spectacular tricks are software and mechanics that work in close conjunction.
The next time you get on a plane, consider that it is essentially a huge robot, partially controlled by two people, where most of the functions are performed by an autopilot that can take off, fly the plane on a given course, and even land.
In the future, robots will also be used to care for the elderly (most likely already in our generation), which will be able to communicate with them not through the command-line interface, but through speech, facial expressions, gestures, and, perhaps, even express their opinions.
The closest influence that robotics can have on society is the replacement of humans in areas, where creativity is not required, but only the performance of tasks according to a certain algorithm. This has already happened in industrial production, where automation reaches and sometimes exceeds 50%. At the same time, robots perform better, make fewer mistakes, and do not require constant monitoring by another person, which can significantly increase labor efficiency and maximize profits.
The next areas that will be affected by robotics will be medicine and the service sector (in its broad sense). In the medical industry, robots are already quite successful in assisting surgeons in performing heavy operations where extreme accuracy is required, but it is not necessary to limit them only to surgical use. In the near future, they will be able to replace the service personnel, and in the future 20–30 years, fully autonomous medical institutions can be created, where the entire process from the emergency department to the examinations will be carried out by robots with specialized artificial intelligence.
At the same time, it should be noted that since the 80s of the 20th century, there has been a significant reduction in jobs precisely because of the widespread introduction of robotic lines. The labor market provides, as a rule, two alternatives: low-paid work that does not require special qualifications (also under the threat of reduction), or high-paid professional work, where a person can fully unleash their own creative potential.
Interestingly, that in the field of home entertainment, robots could not take a significant place, and the AIBO robot dog from Sony, created back in 1999, although it survived its revival after 10 years, but it remains proof-of-concept.
Another huge industry for robotics development in the near future is SexTech, that is, all technology related to sex. The first robots that can satisfy the passion are already appearing on the shelves of stores, but the real boom should be expected in a few years, as the pandemic and the restriction of social contacts only spur interest in this industry. The introduction of robots in this area can significantly change the intimate sphere of human relations.
Robotics of the future as a whole is presented as a harmonious combination of software, sensory and intelligent robots that provide more and more complete satisfaction of the needs of society. It’s safe to say that robots are in the future:
will become more and more diverse, purpose and materials;
will gain a foothold in areas that are now considered new to them — for example, delivery, security and rescue operations;
on the one hand, they will begin to take on more and more complex functions: from mass driving of cars without drivers to remote surgical operations, and on the other hand, they will also take away many routine tasks, such as Stretch from Boston Dynamics, which will replace people in warehouses.
But robots will not replace humans — the human experience, intuition, empathy, and the ability to make unexpected decisions cannot be imitated. But this is for now :)