Since the advent of robots, work has been shared between man and machine. But, as robots become more technologically advanced and autonomous, they learn how to do jobs faster and better than humans. Their precision, intelligence and endless energy levels make them the perfect employees for a wide variety of jobs that humans just can’t afford to do. Here are 10 things we couldn’t do without robots:
1. Military Services: Military robots are some of the most high-tech and important robots used today. These state-of-the-art machines save lives by performing extremely dangerous tasks without endangering humans. Some common robots used by the military are Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) robots, which are capable of examining suspicious packages and surrounding areas to find and even deactivate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines. They can even deliver unexploded ordinance for examination and proper detonation. The military also uses unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance missions, to scope out enemy movements, find hidden explosives and give the Air Force a wide-angle surveillance of their battlespace.
2. Car Production: Robots are used in the automobile industry to assist in building cars. These high-powered machines have mechanical arms with tools, wheels and sensors that make them ideal for assembly line jobs. Not only do robots save more money in manufacturing costs, but they also perform tough tasks at a pace no human could possibly do. Robots also make car manufacturing safer because they can take on dangerous and difficult jobs in place of humans. Automotive industry robots are capable of performing a wide range of tasks such as installation, painting and welding, and aren’t restricted by fatigue or health risks, therefore making them an incredibly useful and irreplaceable part of car production.
3. Space Exploration: One of the most amazing areas of robotics is the use of robots in space. These state-of-the-art machines give astronauts the chance to explore space in the most mind-boggling ways. The most commonly used space robots are the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), which are both used in a variety of space missions. ROVs can be unmanned spacecraft that orbit freely or land when it makes contact with an outer space surface and explore the terrain. Both capture remarkable data and visual footage that would never be humanly possible without the assistance of robots. RMS mechanical arms also help astronauts perform very important and difficult tasks during space missions.
4. Remote and Minimally-Invasive Surgery: Robot-assisted surgery has truly changed the face of medicine by expanding surgeons’ capabilities in ways no human could. Surgical robots are directed by human surgeons who use a computer console to move instruments attached to robot arms. The surgeon’s movements are translated by a computer and then performed on the patient by the robot. Today’s surgical robots are so advanced that it’s possible for surgeons to perform remote surgery without physically being in the operating room or even in the same country! Robot-assisted surgery has improved the limitations of minimally invasive surgery and has many advantages over traditional open surgery, including greater precision, smaller incisions, less pain and decreased blood loss. Surgical robots, such as the da Vinci Surgical System, are used for gynecologic, colorectal, prostate, throat cancer surgeries, as well as bariatric surgery, angioplasty and bypass surgery.
5. Underwater Exploration: Underwater robots have radically changed the way we see the world from the ocean floor. Underwater robots can dive longer and deeper than any human, and they provide an up-close look at marine life. These amazing machines are equipped with sensors, high-definition cameras, wheels and other technology to assist scientists when they explore docks, ocean floors, dams, ship bellies and other surfaces. The most common underwater robots used today are the remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) that are controlled by humans sitting in the command center. ROVs are connected by cable to ships and are the best tool for gathering data and images of life under water.
6. Duct Cleaning: Duct cleaning is done best by a robot that can actually fit into these hazardous and tight spaces. Robots provide a more effective and efficient cleaning than manual brushes. It’s also safer for industrial and institutional markets to use robots because workers are not exposed to harmful chemicals or enzymes that come from dust mites. Duct cleaning robots are used in hospitals and government buildings that may have hazardous or contaminated environments, as well as embassies and prisons for a shorter and more secure cleaning. Using duct cleaning robots translates to quicker, safer, cheaper and more effective duct cleanings without the need of a human.
7. Fight Crime: Police robots help fight crime without risking the lives of police officers. Law enforcement officers use an array of high-tech and remote-controlled robots that are equipped with front and back cameras, infrared lighting and a speaker to search for criminals and find their location without endangering a police officer. State-of-the-art tools like the Robotex robot is waterproof, can climb stairs and flip itself over and has a 360-degree camera to help catch criminals. Other equipment, such as the Andros F6-A, are used by police agencies during hostage situations. This heavy-duty robot is capable of shooting off a water cannon or weapon in order to detain a criminal and protect those who are in danger.
8. Fix Oil Spills: As we saw in the 2010 BP oil spill, robots play a critical role in fixing oil spills. Underwater robots are used to explore the well site and interact with the problematic equipment. Engineers use remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) that dive to great depths and stay submerged for much longer than any human ever could. ROVs are remote-controlled submarines that are operated by humans sitting in the command center. These high-tech robots are connected by cable to ships and are used to collect video footage and information from fiber-optic sensors that help engineers better understand the problem and intervene when necessary. ROVs have hydraulic arms with interchangeable tools, such as saws and cutters, which are used for intervention tasks. Even after the well is capped, robots are used to patrol the well site and make sure oil is no longer escaping.
9. Investigating Hazardous Environments: Robots have become increasingly important for investigating and researching hazardous and dangerous environments. These robots are capable of entering an active volcano to collect data or a burning building to search for victims. Robots such as the Scout Throwable Robot are used by law enforcement agencies and fire departments to help find information about people stuck inside a building, and even have the ability to detect grenades or explosives in the area. These unmanned robots also save lives because they prevent people from having to enter the hazardous environment before they knowing what to expect.
10. Commercialized Agriculture: Farming has been performed by man since the beginning of time, but throughout the years robots have been introduced to the world of commercial agriculture. Like manufacturing jobs, robots have the ability to work faster, longer and more efficiently than humans in agriculture. Robots remove the human factor from this labor intensive and difficult work. They can be taught to navigate through farmland and harvest crops on their own. Robots can also be used for horticulture needs, such as pruning, weeding, spraying pesticide and monitoring the growth of plants.