Liberty Intercept Blog

Why Robotics?

Posted by Elaine Spitz on Mar 28, 2017 5:24:24 PM

Robot DoctorIf you Google the phrase “what can we use robots for”, the first explanation that pops up is this one, from a children’s show called “Science Trek” on Idaho Public Television:

“Most robots today are used to do repetitive actions or jobs considered too dangerous for humans. A robot is ideal for going into a building that has a possible bomb. Robots are also used in factories to build things like cars, candy bars, and electronics.”

When you mention the word “robot” in a group setting, people often joke about their jobs being taken away, and done more efficiently and without complaint, by a robot. The fact is we can build robots to do many jobs more efficiently than humans can, and without danger to life and limb. For instance, there are military robots that can detect and deactivate IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and mines. Robots are a critical part of identifying and repairing underwater oil equipment during a spill. Police and firefighters can use robotics to enter a burning building or other hazardous environment to determine whether there are people that need rescuing. There are robots that perform minimally-invasive surgery, build cars, and explore space or the ocean floor. And because agricultural robots can work faster and for longer periods of time than humans, they make agricultural tasks like pruning vegetation, weeding and harvesting much more efficient, while their human counterparts thus avoid repetitive stress injuries.

Unlike your favorite TV robots from Lost in Space, The Jetsons or Futurama which have many capabilities including the expression of emotion, real mechanical robots are task-oriented, capable of doing a single task or series of tasks.

Here is the most exciting application of robotics for me: innovations in robotic surgical tools. This allows surgeons using robotic instruments to perform sensitive minimally invasive procedures with increased precision, inviting a better outcome for the patient. Surgical robotics are common in multiple fields including cardiac, pediatric, urology and gynecology. Human surgeons are still in control of the procedure, and because the procedures are minimally invasive, there is generally less bleeding and scarring and often a shorter hospital stay for patients, good news for patients, hospitals, and insurers.

Robotics competitions abound for middle schoolers, high schoolers and beyond, which seems to guarantee that innovation in robotics will continue unabated, as the field has become a practical playground for science-minded kids. 


Topics: Robotics

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