I’m sure we’ve all imagined what the future would look like when we were younger. Hover-boards, teleportation tanks and, of course, robots doing all of our menial tasks. Whilst the former might not be so tangible, the latter is soon to become a societal norm. In fact, experts predict that over the next 30 years the majority of our roles will be mastered by our mechanical counterparts.
You don’t have to look far to see the modern day implications of a human-robotic partnership. Take a look at some of the biggest names in the game; Amazon, DHL, Adidas, and you’ll see that they’re already taking pretty confident steps towards a mechanical future.
It’s somehow not hard to picture a workforce of robots in the manufacturing industry, but how about construction? The DCP (Digital Construction Platform), brainchild of Steven Keating from MIT’s Mediated Mater Group, is a moving, functioning answer to that question.
Where many modern day construction robots fall short, the DCP surpasses. Most existing construction-scale 3D printers are somewhat limited in ability. They apply concrete layer by layer, which makes for a weaker structure. Often they can only apply materials from a certain angle, not allowing them to create arches, for instance. Not only this, but the equipment is largely foreign to construction workers.
The DCP, on the other hand, works with the Altec aerial lift system, the one you see lifting up workers in a little bucket. Hence, it’s contractor-friendly. In this case, however, the basket has been replaced with a Kuka robot arm (typically seen in manufacturing lines) heavily equipped with all kinds of constructional gizmos. It has sensors that can measure in topography and radiation, as well as a nozzle that can mix and spray mud, foam, concrete, and basically any other viscous building material you can imagine. A variety of tools from grinders to welders can be fitted to the nozzle.
What makes it really practical is its mobility. The DCP sits on tyre tracks with solar panel charging on its back. One charge equates to eight hours of work and even with diesel back up motors and excavators to collect dirt for bricks, it can comfortably tread through a set of standard double doors.
Slightly more novel, though some might argue just as important, robots have begun serving cocktails on Royal Caribbean cruise liners. With a tablet service system, customers scan a SeaPass card which informs the system of their identity, age and so on. Once into the system, a menu of robotically crafted cocktails can be explored, with listed ingredients as well as previous customer ratings. You can even choose to create your own concoction with your own choice of ingredients. Whilst it might seem to serve primarily as a form of entertainment for the moment, the Bionic Bar could well be replacing bar staff in venues of the future.
Whilst the image of a robot yielding a surgical knife might not be the most pleasant idea to us at this moment in time, it could soon be a usual procedure. Already robots are being utilized for their physical precision in the surgery sector. daVinci is a robot that greatly assists surgeons to this end. The surgeon remains in complete control throughout the process, but with daVinci’s greater flexibility and reach, smaller incisions can be made with more precision. The surgeon sits at a control unit where they can view the operation and control the equipment remotely.
Hospitals are increasingly understaffed, putting a higher demand on nurses. If robots had a hand in the matter, perhaps menial time-consuming tasks could be handled by machines. Thereafter, nurses could spend their time more efficiently on cases that require empathy or decision making skills. Some hospitals already have robots in place performing tasks such as drawing blood from patients.
So whilst some of our sci-fi fantasies remain untouched, there’s a lot to be said for the robotic workforce. The implications of such advancements are yet to be fully realized, but the first glimpses are certainly exciting.Ask a question
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