Embracing a brighter future:
The role of robotics in enhancing daily life.
To say that we’re living on the precipice of an age that could rival the impact of the Industrial Revolution may sound theatrical, or even sensationalist…
By Marc Cavendish, Head of Smart Technologies.
But the rapid development of robotics is proving to have a society changing impact domestically and professionally, far quicker than most of us can have imagined. Over the next decade, our homes and businesses are set to become unrecognisable from what they are today. And in turn, so will our daily lives.
A new age of robotics
Robots, in one guise or another, have been around since the 1950s. But in the form that we know them today, programmable machines that can autonomously carry out genuinely useful tasks, the first real application to penetrate popular culture was the Roomba in 2002. Then we saw more use in manufacturing – like footage from warehouses where robotic arms picked, packed, and posted with greater speed and accuracy than human operatives could. Or manufacturing where autonomous machines completed complex and dangerous tasks with precision and 100% efficiency, around the clock. Now, it’s deliveries made by drones or driverless pods, innovations in prosthetic limb technology, and even robots that carry out medical operations too intricate and delicate for the surgeon’s hand.
We’re way past the challenge of how to build robots, and well into an age where we’re figuring out how best to use them to solve our challenges.
For business, to embrace robotics sooner rather than later is to secure a competitive advantage. Yes, there are challenges and ethical dilemmas associated with this transformation, but there are several domains where robotics can unfetter humanity without consequence.
In numerous sectors of modern society, autonomous robotics can deliver significant advantages. By entrusting robots with the automation of repetitive or perilous tasks, we can liberate humans from monotonous, physically taxing, or unsafe jobs. This not only enhances productivity but also substantially curtails workplace injuries, enabling humanity to channel its efforts into creative and intellectual pursuits that contribute to the advancement of businesses and society.
The case for more robotics in healthcare is twofold. Firstly, we have been facing a staffing crisis in the NHS for what feels like decades. When there simply aren’t enough people to carry out the work required, the argument for humans losing jobs to robotic labour falls short. If there aren’t enough people to carry out the work in the first place, and a technological solution exists, it should be used.
Secondly, the nature of healthcare which is quite literally life and death. Where human error exists, which it does in any industry let alone one with such physical and emotional tolls on its workers, the perfection of robotic labour is invaluable. Robots can lend a hand in patient care, monitoring, sanitation, and logistical duties, enabling healthcare professionals and investments to direct their attention toward more critical aspects of patient treatment. Surgical systems and assistive devices can augment the precision and efficiency of medical procedures, thus markedly reducing the potential for human error. For individuals contending with mobility impairments or physical disabilities, robotic exoskeletons and assistive devices can substantially augment their quality of life.
Alongside healthcare, transportation is one of the industries that modern society needs at a fundamental level. It too is on the brink of a robotics revolution – self-driving cars, trucks, and drones are already a reality, with pioneers like Tesla incorporating self-driving capabilities. This technology not only promises to significantly reduce accidents but also to optimise traffic flow, enhance overall efficiency through AI-driven traffic management systems that synchronise signals, divert traffic around incidents, and dynamically adjust speed limits. Public transportation with autonomous features, such as buses and trains, will provide more dependable and efficient services, lessening the dependence on individual vehicles in urban areas. These collective advancements are instrumental in curbing carbon emissions from the transportation sector, which, in turn, bolsters our planet and secures our future.
Borrowing from the innovations in transportation, retail is perhaps the sector where the public is most culturally aware of robotic creep. Amazon’s drones, Co-op’s delivery pods, and Uber Eat’s autonomous vehicles are all headline news as retailers look to find faster, cheaper, and safer ways to bring products to consumers. Not in the headlines, but very much active in-store, are the shelf-stacking, inventory-managing, and product-packaging robots – which carry out much of the essential everyday work behind the scenes.
The inevitable positive force of robotics
There’s no closing of Pandora’s Box, and nor should there be, not now we’ve seen the incredible opportunity for the betterment of daily life. People, and businesses, are nervous about the impact of robotics – a fear largely driven by the unknown. We can thank science fiction for much of the scaremongering, but the closer we get to adoption the closer we get to acceptance. It’s only a matter of time. Once society understands the unrivalled positive application of robotics, as much of business already does, the opportunities are endless, and the road ahead looks much brighter for it.
Those who can pragmatically overcome their reservations and look to the future, a future which is undeniably robotic, are always going to be one step ahead of their competition. But in the infancy of this revolution, before robotics departments become standard inclusions in the IT hierarchy of businesses, expert input is essential.
Specified, managed, and deployed by specialists who understand the scope, budget, and application of robotics projects – the opportunities are endless.
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