Our volunteers Małgosia and Lada write about what robotics is and what benefits it brings. Lada's article is translated into Polish by our volunteer Konrad. We invite you to read!
Robotics – robot – a field regarding robots. This natural association is right but it is not just about robots created mainly for entertainment, as many may think. Robotics is an interdisciplinary field that connects traditional branches of technical sciences. It includes, for example, mechanical engineering, automatic control engineering, electronic engineering, sensory engineering, cybernetics and information technology. The scope of the robotics studies also includes the matter of artificial intelligence. Nowadays robotics has a wide range of applications, mainly in: industry, transport, health service, building sector, farming household, military and in the exploration of ocean and space. The main goal of robotizing specific sectors is to increase productivity and efficiency while, at the same time, lowering production costs. Many tasks in which speed, endurance and precision are important, are performed better by robots rather than humans. Therefore, robots have come into so many manufacturing sectors.
Robotics is closer than you think!
Contrary to all appearances we use robots on a daily basis without realizing it. New high-tech appliances are called smart machines which means that they have more advanced functions and can make advanced analytics while independently choosing appropriate parameters. Let’s take the smart devices, for example, such as a vacuum cleaner, an oven or a washing machine. We’re already familiar with vacuum cleaners that move around and clean the house on their own, and once they’re done, they return to the charger. Those devices are already classified as robots. In that case, robots are designed to take over duties entirely but in health care their purpose is to make work easier. Many devices help surgeons in operating theaters during complicated operations which require extremely precise movements using tiny tools. Nonetheless, the use of robots on the largest scale can be spotted in the manufacturing industry. Car factories, food manufacturing factories, chemical, textile factories and many more use the robotized machines during different stages of production. Especially monotonous, repetitive and dangerous activities like car lackering, metal welding or labeling are performed by the machines under human supervision.
Is robotics our future?
Not so long ago drones remained technical innovations. Nowadays we can easily buy drones in almost any electronics shop. They’re slowly becoming less of a luxurious product and more of an easily-accessible item. The use of drones has a wide range: from photography to military purposes, for example: using them as spy machines that check dangerous environments.
Another example of developing automated technology is an unmanned subway operated by the system, so basically – a robot. Such a solution has not been implemented in Poland, but this means of transport has been continuously working in Paris since 2011 as the first in the world. Similarly in Italy, Spain and Denmark.
Unmanned solutions for public transportation also include cars. The first prototypes of unmanned cars were created during the years 2004-2007. In California, unmanned taxis have been functioning since 2018.
If it’s still not groundbreaking enough, then the Uber Drone will definitely shock you! A helicopter used for commercial flights to the airports around the city has been tested in New York. Due to the ever-increasing traffic jams, it can require a lot of effort to reach an airport on time during the rush hours. The Uber company has stepped in with a solution – they are already giving people an option to order a taxi helicopter controlled by a pilot, but they’re also planning to launch unmanned drones/helicopters that will transport passengers in the future.
The last two examples are obviously in the early stages of development but the pace of progressive technology enables us to predicts that it will become a common practice. Therefore, you can conclude that robotics will not cease to be a part of our everyday life – in fact, it will be developing and spreading through more and more aspects of it. It brings a lot of changes but also creates a lot of possibilities. Undoubtedly, engineering and programming are going to become even more popular.
It goes without saying that nowadays engineering and science education is extremely important. It provides great skills that could be very useful for future employment. And it is also easy to imagine that young students who love learning about technology will appreciate robotics as an opportunity to use their engineering knowledge in practice and possibly discover a new passion. But there are also some other hidden perks which come with learning robotics at a young age.
# 1 Gaining Mechanical Skills
To all people complaining that nowadays young people “can’t even change a tire” and “don’t have any basic maintenance skills” – here is some great news. Robotics is not just textbook studying and it encourages kids to use their motor skills for building a machine.
# 2 Gaining Soft Skills
Creating a robot is a complex process which is usually done by a group of students. Projects like that can be an excellent opportunity for young people to discover and improve their soft skills such as leadership, problem-solving and interpersonal communication. What makes robotics amazing is that every student brings something to the table – be it creative thinking, careful project planning or good coding knowledge.
# 3 Having fun
Let’s not argue – building a robot sounds a lot more fun than studying another chapter of pretty much any school textbook. Participating in an exciting and creative project for sure brings students together and lets them be in charge of their learning process.
All in all, robotics is still a relatively new field of education but it is certainly an amazing opportunity for young people to discover their hidden talents and have a good time!