4 Times Robots Helped Humanity

When people talk about robots, they immediately focus on automation and how it leaves millions out of work. But although it is a real consequence of the advancements in robotics, it’s far from being the only one.

Robots aren’t the evil Terminator-types that want to take your job. They’ve also been a great help to all of humanity. These machines are everywhere: they help explore space and other planets, keep people safe during a pandemic, and even recycle our trash.

So, let’s make a case for machines as humans’ helpers with these four real-world examples of how they’ve already changed the world for the better.

Inspired to Be on the Frontline of a Revolution in Robotics?

If the answer is “yes,” you’re in for a lot of work and fun that comes along with doing what you love. And don’t worry: this isn’t a pipe dream that you should forget about. It can become your very real career. Here are 3 tips for acquiring the right skills for it:

  • Just start building – there are plenty of kits (like the Lego Mindstorms NXT) and tutorials for beginners.

  • Join a robotics club or association.

  • When you become confident in your skills, participate in competitions like RoboGames and RoboCup.

Juggling all of that with getting a degree in an associated field (electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, mathematics) is tough. And if you have a job on top of it all, it’s even tougher. But remember: your skillset will be your most valuable asset.

Don’t know how to make the time for building it? Consider turning to a paper writing service if you find yourself buried under tons of homework. If you’re having trouble choosing just one, you can try looking for feedback. For example, you can check out paperwriter reviews by NoCramming to know for sure what you’re choosing. Learn to say “no” to some things, like parties and hangouts, too. And, above all, prioritize.

1. Robots Have Made Surgeries More Precise than Ever

That might sound like a thing out of sci-fi movies, but there are robot-assisted surgery appliances installed in contemporary hospitals. They are mostly used by OBGYNs, colorectal surgeons, and neurology doctors. The first one was approved for use in the US by the FDA in 1994 – it was Cyberknife.

These appliances make incisions far more precise than a human hand can, with no risk of error. Surgeons’ hands may shake and be too big to enter the body—but not the mechanical ones. Plus, the latter can adjust to the patient’s movements caused by breathing.

If you start freaking out about it, don’t worry: no one is getting operated by a machine out of HBO’s Westworld. These appliances are just tools, and surgeons decide when and where to use them.

Still, their accuracy is outstanding. You can find a video shot by Da Vinci Surgery where one of the company’s tools peels a grape with surgical (pun intended) precision!

2. They’ve Been Keeping People Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic sped up many technological trends, and the adoption of robotics was one of them. It soared as machines could work with no breaks and couldn’t get sick, thus mitigating the risk of infecting others, too.

One hospital in Italy, among many others around the world, used robots instead of its healthcare personnel for a number of tasks. These machines disinfected the area, made deliveries, checked in on COVID-19 patients, and more.

But hospitals weren’t the only ones that contributed to the surge in orders for mechanic helpers:

  1. universities acquired Sally models to make salads;
  2. airports switched to robot cleaners;
  3. hotels replaced their butlers with mechanical counterparts developed by Savioke.

3. They Sort Our Trash for Proper Recycling

Do you sort your trash? If so, you probably use only the basic categories: plastic goes into one bin, glass into another one, and so on. But not all plastic is made equal. And you—like many others probably misplace some of your trash, thinking it’s recyclable when it’s not.

Robots are here to solve these two issues. How? Here’s one example. In Germany, recycling plants use machines equipped with infrared scanning to do so. These scanners detect different types of plastics and signal the assembly lines to separate them. They also sort the plastic trash by size and weight.

Now, let’s travel to Virginia, the US. There, in RDS Virginia’s Roanoke facility, four AMP robots work 24/7 to filter out misplaced items from the assembly lines. And as the pandemic hit, these machines also took up quality control.

4. They Helped Mitigate the Fukushima Disaster

You probably know this story that shook the world in 2011. A powerful earthquake and the tsunami that followed rocked Japan. A nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, caused by them, followed right after.

What you might not know is that robots helped mitigate this disaster’s impact.

If you watched HBO’s Chernobyl, you know that, back in 1986, machines have proven themselves useless. They couldn’t withstand the high radiation levels.

A lot has changed since then, and the mechanic helpers that moved around the Fukushima power plant were designed to survive the radiation. What’s more, the engineers at the Chiba Institute of Technology managed to complete the first iteration of their nuclear response robot in just three months!

These machines were instrumental in understanding the situation inside the building. They:

  • verified radiation levels to see if they’re safe for humans,
  • reported which pipes could be used to cool the nuclear fuel, 
  • created 3D maps of the plant’s interior.

In Conclusion: It’s Not All Gloom and Doom

There’s no shortage of killer robots and dystopian futures in pop culture, nor can you avoid hearing that machines “will take your job.” But, as you can see, that’s not all there is to the story.

As these four examples have shown, machines can do plenty of good—and they can work on it around the clock, with no bathroom breaks or sick leaves. Yet, at the end of the day, they’re tools, and they’re only as good as the people who created them.

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