With new types of robots being created all the time it seems clear that before long there will be more human jobs lost as automated machinery provides a more efficient way of doing the work. This is going to provide us with a big challenge in our society, as workers are forced to look for other types of employment. However, there is no doubt that there are some tasks which robots simply do a lot better than humans.
Production Line Work
It is becoming increasingly common to see robots sitting in front of a conveyor belt and packing, sorting or ordering items instead of humans doing it. The simple fact is that human workers can make mistakes on a long shift, can get tired and need a rest on a regular basis. The most advanced robots can work to a high standard without interruptions and are even delicate enough to handle the sort of fragile pieces which have never been trusted to machines in the past. This means that it is likely that more and more companies start to use robots instead of Homo sapiens in their production lines in the future.
Even the fittest and stronger warehouse operative can’t be expected to lift heavy boxes all day long without getting tired; robots can. Their capacity to just keep on working hour after hour means that they can handle a lot more work in the same period as a human worker would.
We have seen robotic taxi drivers in sci-fi films such as Total Recall but could they exist in the real world before long? Work on automated cars is currently going on in different parts of the world, as the race to produce the planet’s first fully automated vehicle heats up. Berlin is where a lot of development is going on just now, while Google has managed to get laws changed in several US states to allow them to test driverless cars there. It seems that a robotic taxi driver might not be too far away. The use of accurate GPS sensors, cameras, radars and other equipment should ensure that they are safer than those driven by humans. They probably won’t bore you with the latest football gossip either.
The previous points take advantage of the ability of robots to keep on working at the same level for a long time. This is great when it comes to sorting things and lifting boxes but we can’t expect a robot to do something truly creative like make music, can we? Well, Shimon might not agree with this. Shimon is a robot created by the Georgia Tech Centre for Music Technology which can improvise and jam with the best of them. There have been other music playing robots created as well and the technology is getting better all the time. While it is down to personal taste whether you like the music they produce we can at least say that they won’t get involved in any backstage scandals or go into a diva type strop when their outrageous rider demands aren’t met.
Soldiers or Delivery Drones?
There is a lot of talk right now about the future of drones. Basically, there are a couple of different schools of thought; that they would make great soldiers and that they could be useful in delivering essential supplies to out of the way places. In the second of those two ideas work has already been carried out in Haiti using flying drones to airlift medical supplies to places where it is difficult to get to by road. In the case of the fighting machines, it isn’t hard to imagine the problems which the world could suffer if an aggressive country decided to release a wave of drones. In this case it is a sad truth that robots could probably do an even more destructive job than humans.
Ian Appleton is a robotics expert who has studied the impact which the likes of ABB robots have had on different businesses and industries in recent times.