You may have noticed that many things have become much easier and quicker to do than 20 years ago: the production capacity of a capital good has increased significantly, and the chances of surviving cancer have risen dramatically. That is all thanks to the work of robotics. But what is robotics exactly?
Robotics is the designing and constructing of robots and other machines, through computer science and engineering, that can help assist humans. These robots essentially substitute for humans to perform tasks under extreme circumstances—circumstances that are harmful, or even unsustainable, for humans.
Because of the convenience it creates, it is, or becoming, widely used in many industries. Here are some examples:
In a field that requires much precision and long hours, robotics are perfect for the job. While humans often get tired or experience some discomfort during a procedure, robots, incapable of physical feelings, are able to perform tasks non-stop, pinpointing every detail. This allows for longer procedures with higher success rates. For instance, the Da Vinci Surgical System utilizes 3-dimensional systems to capture images, magnifying details that may be easily missed by human eyes. It has been commonly used for prostatectomies, cardiac valve repair, and renal and gynecologic surgical procedures.
In addition to those that help perform the procedures, robotics can also assist as tools used in a procedure. The most common example is a robotic limb, or prosthetic limb, which is used on an amputee as a replacement for the lost limb. It allows the patient to recover and regain their mobility before their amputation.
Not just precision and long hours, robotics are also ideal for repetitive tasks that require persistence. With guidance and supervision, these robots can perform monotonous tasks with more precision than humans. Also, they make great alternatives for many dangerous and harmful processes of manufacturing. An example would be an articulated robot, which is used for a wide range of manufacturing applications such as welding, assembling, sealing, material handling, picking, cutting, painting, and spraying.
Scientists had long hoped to explore the mysteries deep in the ocean. However, the water pressure doesn’t allow humans, or machines like submarines, to sustain themselves in that environment. Thus, these two types of robots are much needed in underwater exploration: remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
AUVs are unmanned; they are pre-programmed, operating without humans’ control. They are often used for detecting and mapping wrecks, rocks, and obstructions, and more recently, water column geochemical and oceanographic measurements. ROVs, unlike AUVs, are maneuvered by humans above the water's surface. They can carry tools such as cameras and lights, as well as grab objects found underwater. Used in marine geoscience studies, these devices have played a critical role in observing and maintaining natural resources in bodies of water.
As clearly shown in the industries described above, robotics are capable of performings tasks that are too dangerous, difficult, or even impossible for humans. Ultimately, they are incredibly crucial in problem-solving and assisting in various industries.