Are robots the muses of modern times?
Yesterday, robots in our image
Humankind has always been fascinated by the idea of creating, shaping a machine in our image. Today, technology enables an almost perfect result: motion, vision, language, touch. Even though they are not humanoids, robots are increasingly able to make decisions and choices. For example, a robot vacuum cleaner that avoids going over the same spot twice. A washing machine that weighs the laundry in order to calculate the amount of water required, or a car that measures distances in order to park on its own…
Today, day-to-day assistants
A robot is a set of technologies, capacities and skills that remains under human control! We adjust robots to our needs: as living companions for people who are elderly, ill, disabled or on their own. Robots can compensate for physical impairments, show when to take medicine, raise the alarm if a person does not wake up, etc. In production plants, these companions have changed the way we work, helping us to handle heavy loads, dangerous products, and so on.
Tomorrow: super heroes?
Current research into robotics is seeking to personalise robots in relation to our body: the first tests on exoskeletons are currently underway. What is the aim of all this? Not to have a wearable robot that I need to teach to think, but to make the robot part of the way I think in order to boost my capacities.
An example: Hercules
Hercules is a prototype exoskeleton weighing 20kg, which is able – at present – to carry 40kg on its back without difficulty. In the longer term, it will be able to carry 100kg of equipment at a speed of 4kph. Intended in the first instance for the army, it will also have applications in civil society in hospitals, the fire service or even the building and public works sector. This prototype is built by the Auxerre-based company RB3D.
And the day after tomorrow?
A growing number of companies (CEA-LIST, Robosoft, Aldebaran, etc.) are developing technologies to improve communication and cohabitation between people and robots, through sight, touch, speech, etc. The fields of research are vast: materials, optics, electronics, mechanics, and so on.
One thing is for sure: we will be able to build robots that are increasingly close to humans. The real question is the role that they will play: for recreation, in industry, in the world of transports? What do you think? What will be the role of robots in the future?