Has your life ever been impacted by a robot? You might not see a robot often but the answer to this question is yes. Robotics have been influential in almost every aspect of the human experience since these contraptions make work easier.
Robots are more than just a piece of equipment or science fiction. They are helpful inventions that aid in human development. From menial factory tasks to domestic applications, there’s something that a robot can do to make matters easier for humans.
Get to know more about Robots and what they can do in our everyday lives here at Robocup!
What is a robot?
Before we dive deeper into the topic of robotics in everyday life, let’s first define what a robot is. The word robot comes from the Czech word ‘robota’ which means forced work or labour.
However, the word expanded its meaning in recent times. Now, the term robot is used to describe any man-made machine that can perform work or other tasks either automatically or by remote human control.
It’s good to note that there’s no real definition of what constitutes a robot. Although, many roboticists consider that these are machines that move, or have moving parts, and make decisions while interacting with the world.
With that said, a vacuum cleaner that can automatically clean your house while you’re away is a robot while your washing machine wherein you manually program how it washes your clothes is not.
What do robots do?
Often, robots are seen as devices of the far-off future because of their advanced technology. It’s even used in science fiction movies as something to behold and be mesmerised by. However, robots are part of our everyday lives. The world is inhabited by machines that can talk and listen to humans as well as solve problems even without human intervention.
The most common use of robots involves them substituting for human labour. They do work that humans are capable of doing but are better suited for robotics. These are tedious repetitive tasks that humans can do but robots can do much more efficiently.
For example, the tightening of toothpaste lids. Humans can tighten the lid of a toothpaste but it’ll take time and effort to do so. With robots, the job can be done fast and efficiently with minor errors.
Sometimes, robots are also used for jobs that are considered too dangerous for humans. For example, going to an area that’s contaminated by poison. Humans can’t go there because their health can get compromised. However, robots don’t have the same problem because they are machines.
Why are robots used?
Because of technological advancements, it’s cheaper to use robots instead of human labour. It’s also easier for them to do certain jobs that are repetitive and boring. They can do things over and over again without getting bored or distracted because they are programmed to do so.
Oftentimes, robots are a lot more accurate than humans. They make little to no errors when doing a job because that’s how they were programmed. Aside from that, robots don’t get sick, they don’t need to eat and they don’t need to take a day off. That makes manufacturing all the more efficient with the use of robots.
Aside from that, robots make human lives easier. They can do intensive labour well without having to strain humans anymore compared to the days pre-industrial revolution.
The parts of a robot
Robots are designed for a specific purpose. Most of them don’t look like human beings as science fiction would often showcase. At times, they’re just machines that can function by themselves. They’re comprised of the following parts:
- The controller – This is also known as the brain which is run by a computer program that details commands for the moving parts of the robot.
- Mechanical parts – These are motors, pistons, grippers, wheels and gears that make a robot move, grab, lift and turn. Often, these moving parts are powered by air, water or electricity.
- Sensors – These tell the robots about their surroundings which help them determine the size, shape and space between objects. It can also determine the direction in which the object is moving towards or away from. With the use of sensors, robots can also apply the necessary amount of pressure on a certain object without crushing it.
Ways in which robots are used that you’re unaware of
Robots are used in our everyday lives. You’re just unaware of it. Here are some of the ways in which these robots are used to better everyday lives:
Food sorting robots
Robots are used to sort food in factories. From sorting the products into uniform shapes and sizes to the packaging, robots that are controlled by humans are used. One of the best examples of this is rice sorting.
Every grain of rice passes through a robotic conveyor machine that uses high-speed cameras and lights. The image taken from these tools is then analysed by a computer to make a decision about its grade. Jets of air are then turned on and off to steer the grains into the correct bin. All of these are done a hundred times per second.
Robots for medical training
Many nurses, doctors and paramedics train on robot patients. These robots can simulate various conditions and give student health workers something to practice on their prognosis, diagnosis and treatment skills.
Medical training robots are sometimes life-size and look like real people. These are called humanoid robots. Some of these robots, on the other hand, are only a representation of just one part of a person.
Robots for police training
Police and military also train using robots. These are used to simulate real people or targets during live-fire training. Aside from that, these robots are also mobile, meaning that they can move around which is ideal for training.
Robots for extracting poison
Robots are used to extract poison from venomous animals. That’s because the job is too dangerous for humans to do. These are then used to create medicine that many people use on the daily.
Robots in shopping
Many items you’ve ordered online are partially moved from where they are made to where you receive them by robots. For instance container ports that contain products are partially automated with huge containers offloaded from ships by human operators that control cranes.
Warehouses are also operated using mobile robots. One of the famous examples of this is Amazon wherein they built their warehouses for robot automation that can autonomously transport shelf units.
Top industries that make use of robots
Plenty of industries are also using robots to make production and other things easier. The use of these automatons is vital not only for production but also for innovation. These industries include:
The healthcare industry
Healthcare practices are now operated with robotics. Surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, patient companionship and everyday activities are heavily influenced by robots. Although they’re making things easier, these robots are not designed to take over the duties of healthcare professionals. On the contrary, they’re designed to make their work easier.
For example, the da Vinci Surgical System utilises hand movements of the operating surgeon to control tiny instruments inside a person’s body. This is perfect for minimally invasive procedures in surgeries.
Another example would be robotic lifting machines that help nurses lift elderly or immobile patients. Patients who also suffered strokes or spinal cord injuries can make use of exoskeletons that have the ability to assist and guide them during rehabilitation.
The agriculture sector has been actively working to adopt different forms of robotic technology. This is to help increase productivity while lowering the overall cost of production.
Tractors and harvesters are now self-guided by GPS to help farmers manage their land. Aside from this, autonomous systems that automate operations like pruning, thinning, mowing, spraying and weed removal are being developed to make lives easier for farmers.
Robotics are used in manufacturing to help increase productivity and efficiency while at the same time, lowering costs of production. These robots collaborate with workers to perform repetitive and intricate tasks—the workers control the robots and how they perform specific tasks.
To keep things safe in the workplace, sensors, cameras and automatic shut-off capabilities are in place. This way, workers won’t have to worry about accidents while operating the machineries.
RoboCup is a community that fosters the development of intelligent robots through competitions. Scientists and students from all over the world can join in on the fun of demonstrating their robots in attractive and realistic scenarios.
Get to know more about what RoboCup is and what it does to foster robotics awareness worldwide through our about page. Take a look at our past events and schedule to know what we’ve been up to in the past years.