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Future Robotics Technology and Applications

Fleet Week 2014_1000276.jpg
(US Navy Blue Angels, San Francisco Fleet Week 2014 - Jeff M. Wang)


- Overview

The robots are coming and they’re getting smarter, evolving from single-task devices into machines that can make their own decisions and autonomously navigate public spaces. From transportation systems, hospitals, and the military, to the robotization of our workplaces and households, robots will be everywhere and will increasingly interact with people. Whether you find it exhilarating or terrifying (or both), progress in robotics and related fields like AI raises new ethical quandaries and challenges to legal codes that were created for a world in which a sharp line separated man from machine. 

The new technologies threatening our jobs today are based on the Internet, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). The things that they can do are beyond comprehension; that is where the panic is, robots with AI might be capable of doing things that we don’t even understand. But each and every one of us should welcome them because if we know how to handle the transition we will be better off at the end of it. New jobs will appear to replace the ones that robots destroy because there are still many things that robots cannot do; such as jobs that involve decision making in unpredictable environments. And with robots doing the work, we will be able to work less and enjoy more of the products of the new technology in our leisure time. Companies, workers and governments have to adapt to the new realities for the benefit of society as a whole.

In the last decade the robotics industry has created millions of additional jobs led by consumer electronics and the electric vehicle industry, and by 2020, robotics will be a $100 billion worth industry, as big as the tourism industry. For example, the rehabilitation robot market has grown 10 times between 2010 and 2016, thanks to advancements in rehab/therapy robots, active prostheses, exoskeletons, and wearable robotics. In short, the very next decade robotics will become vital components in a number of applications and robots paired with AI will be able to perform complex actions that are capable of learning from humans, driving the intelligent automation phenomenon. Therefore, in this paper we try to depict the direction and the fields of application of such important sector of future markets, and scientific research.


- AI and Robotics

Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with physical robots. Robots are programmable machines that are usually able to carry out a series of actions autonomously, or semi-autonomously. There are three important factors which constitute a robot: 

  • Robots interact with the physical world via sensors and actuators.
  • Robots are programmable.
  • Robots are usually autonomous or semi-autonomous. 

AI has continued to create huge impacts across multiple industries and continued research has changed how AI affects the robotic industry. Presently, the innovative combination of AI and robotics has created an array of futuristic possibilities in automation. The application of AI in robotics is mainly for enhancing some industrial robotics capabilities. While scientists and experts are yet to realize the full potential of AI and robotics,

AI gives robots a computer vision to navigate, sense and calculate their reaction accordingly. Robots learn to perform their tasks from humans through machine learning which again is a part of computer programming and AI. Since the time John McCarthy has coined the term Artificial Intelligence  in 1956, it has created a lot of sensation. This is because AI has the power to give life to robots and empower them to take their decisions on their own. 

[Paris Skyline, France - Llnur Kalimulin]

- Robot Essential Characteristics

Robotics is the intersection of science, engineering and technology that produces machines, called robots, that substitute for (or replicate) human actions. A robot has following essential characteristics:

  • Sensing - First of all your robot would have to be able to sense its surroundings. It would do this in ways that are not unsimilar to the way that you sense your surroundings. Giving your robot sensors: light sensors (eyes), touch and pressure sensors (hands), chemical sensors (nose), hearing and sonar sensors (ears), and taste sensors (tongue) will give your robot awareness of its environment.
  • Movement - A robot needs to be able to move around its environment. Whether rolling on wheels, walking on legs or propelling by thrusters a robot needs to be able to move. To count as a robot either the whole robot moves, like the Sojourner or just parts of the robot moves, like the Canada Arm.
  • Energy - A robot needs to be able to power itself. A robot might be solar powered, electrically powered, battery powered. The way your robot gets its energy will depend on what your robot needs to do.
  • Intelligence - A robot needs some kind of "smarts." This is where programming enters the pictures. A programmer is the person who gives the robot its 'smarts.' The robot will have to have some way to receive the program so that it knows what it is to do.

 Robotics involves designing, building and programming physical robots which are able to interact with the physical world. Only a small part of robotics involves artificial intelligence.


- Ethics of AI and Robotics

Robotics and AI systems already help us with everything from vacuuming and grocery shopping to driving cars and booking appointments. Machines that can learn, make decisions and automate tasks are already part of our lives. The big question is, how do we make sure they’re helping society, rather than harming us? As we continue to develop machines with decision-making abilities that are comparable to those of a human mind, recognizing and addressing these questions are more important than ever. Technology like AI will change society. It’s already becoming part of our lives. We need to work out how to make sure it improves the quality of everyone’s life.

The ethics of AI is the part of the ethics of technology specific to AI systems. It is sometimes divided into a concern with the moral behavior of humans as they design, make, use and treat AI systems, and a concern with the behavior of machines, in machine ethics. It also includes the issue of a possible singularity due to superintelligent AI. The term "robot ethics" (sometimes "roboethics") refers to the morality of how humans design, construct, use and treat robots. It considers both how artificially intelligent beings may be used to harm humans and how they may be used to benefit humans. 

AI and robotics are digital technologies that will have significant impact on the development of humanity in the near future. They have raised fundamental questions about what we should do with these systems, what the systems themselves should do, what risks they involve, and how we can control these. As we continue to develop machines with decision-making abilities that are comparable to those of a human mind, recognising and addressing these questions are more important than ever. Technology like AI will change society. It’s already becoming part of our lives. But society also gets to change technology. We need to work out how to make sure it improves the quality of everyone’s life.



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