From RoboCop in 1987 to I, Robot in 2004 to Chappie in 2015, humans long been concerned with what society would be like if robots were part of our daily lives: in the police force, behind service counters, walking (rolling?) down the street.
In some ways, it feels as if that time is here. Robots are being manufactured to solve all sorts of problems that humans just haven’t been able to fix with their own abilities. Although the world is by no means perfect, scientists, technologists, and engineers are working on ways to solve everyday, 21st century problems.
Here are a few innovative ways that robots are being used, as of November 2015.
Delivery Robots: Drones used by Amazon or Google for delivery have been in discussion for years, but have yet to fill the airfields with book deliveries. This week, CNNMoney announced an alternative to the “last mile” problem of delivering packages to people’s homes, as invented by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis.
The problem? Delivery trucks contribute to congestion, drivers have to deal with nightmare parking problems, and experts say that 28% of transportation costs are incurred during the last mile. And since drones haven’t been able to overcome the regulations necessary for safe air delivery, Heinla and Friis have invented robots that could provide the same solution.
“They travel at the slow speed of four miles per hour—a brisk walking pace. They travel on pavements and sidewalks, blending in safely with pedestrian traffic.” If all goes as planned, you could be maneuvering the city streets next to a robot with package in hand. Learn more about Starship Technologies here.
Telepresence Robots: In rural areas of Utah, there simply are not enough pediatric psychologists to evaluate special needs children in educational environments. So, Utah researchers are experimenting with an inexpensive robot called the Kubi from Revolve Robotics. It’s a robotic cradle that holds a tablet computer, allowing a remote participant to steer the cradle and look around the room.
For psychologists who want to observe a class or teachers in front of a class, it can be immensely helpful: “When I’m there in person sitting in a classroom, I’m moving my head back and forth between the teacher and the students. The Kubi platform lets me do the exact same thing,” says Aaron Fischer, assistant professor at the University of Utah. Learn more here.
Coding Robots: If you’ve ever wanted to develop an app, startup, or website, but have never learned how to code, you may be one of the millions with that unrealized dream. The older we become, the more difficult coding is to learn. So, Dash and Dot from toymaker Wonder Workshop are “designed to teach kids the fundamentals of coding, through play.” The robots are adorable and feel fun, not intimidating like some industrial robots. Learn more about why Dash and Dot are awesome for grown-ups too, here.
Technology changes in the blink of an eye, so if you’re interested in working with machines, technology, drones, or problem-solving, an industry concerned with the development of robots could be a good fit for you!