Are Robots Taking Over Your Job?

Enjoy Digital
By Enjoy Digital
5 minutes to read

For those of you not aware I am a little obsessed with technology.

I blog about it, I read about it, I think about it constantly…Sad I know.

However advancements in robotics are surpassing expectations so much that any day now we could all end up with a “Johnny 5” of our very own or much more likely replacing us in the workplace.

To do this I always figure you need a few things:

  1. Software that can think (like Skynet but friendlier)
  2. A body that can move (Like Short-circuit but less wiry)
  3. And self-repair, consciousness and the ability to communicate (like data from star-trek but less Pinocchio).

Whilst reading a number of different articles and looking at different developments in the field, I realised that we are probably just about there… If everything worked together and it was all in one machine. Lucky for us these master machinists tend to focus on one aspect of development, rather than putting everything together.

Let me introduce you to Baxter, AlphaDog and project Phoenix.

Rethink Robotics’ - Baxter

Baxter is a manufacturing robot, which uses “common sense” designed to safely interact with humans on a production line.

Are Robots Taking Over Your Job?

Rethink Robotics are helping to redefine how humans interact with robots by using complex algorithms to create a friendly interface that constantly problem solves the environment around it allowing the robot to respond to touch and motion sensors.

Basically if it senses a human presence it will slow down and make a judgement on whether to stop or slow down to ensure the environment around it is still safe.

Not only is Baxter the first of his kind, but he is also extremely affordable. For less than an employee’s yearly wage Baxter comes fully functional and complete with “all the hardware and software it needs to get right to work”.

Rethink Robotics even go on to say that “it can be working productively within an hour of arriving…” that would certainly cut down the amount of expensive “training time” for human employees. Already boosting productivity without taking into account holidays, sick pay, work incentives and coffee breaks.

Boston Dynamics’ LS3 “Alphadog”

Designed by Boston Dynamics but funded by DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) , this “Legged Squad Support System” or LS3 has been created to go anywhere soldiers go on foot.

Are Robots Taking Over Your Job?

With a 24 hour and 20 mile battery life this robotic donkey can carry up to 400 lbs (around 28.5 Stone) and follow a lead soldier without remote control assistance.

The robot has also got built in GPS and environment sensors so it can be sent to a designated location and work out the best way to get there.

DARPAS’ Project Phoenix

Are Robots Taking Over Your Job?

OK, so the terminator might be a bit of a far-fetched picture for what is basically just a brain cell at the moment, but at a recent conference DARPA discussed the main goal of project phoenix was to develop “self-healing” satellites using de-commissioned satellites as it’s source for new parts.

The project, which is inspired by jellyfish – a creature with just 22 specialised cells making up the millions in its body, hopes to create smaller “Satlets”, which could combine to create a fully functioning modern satellite.

The project then builds on this idea to “cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, non-working satellites in Geo (orbit) and demonstrate the ability to create new space systems at greatly reduced cost.”

The Final Piece of the Puzzle

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have just given £1.1 million to the university of Aberdeen to aid development of a piece software that will allow Robots and other pieces of technology to communicate fluently with Humans.

The Software is designed to help progressing technology to explain decisions made, the idea behind it is that if a human designed the robot or technology interacting with everyday life “Human Error” is always a risk factor. But if automated machines, which process thousands of pieces of data in a second can explain actions taken then the risk can be reduced.

The software also makes way for systems that show projections and make plans – such as demolition systems, how they came about those decisions and the alternatives available.

So there you have it 2 robots, 1 piece of software and 1 ideal that when put together could basically replace you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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