Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Robots are here to stay, like it or not

Here's a semi-serious look at robotics.
There are more robots being built this year than in any previous year in humanity's history. And this may be true for next few decades.

Of course, almost everyone who is anyone has a working replica of "Robby the Robot", who was in more movies and TV shows than R2D2.

Robby is very useful around the house, but he was not very good at changing diapers, because of his claw-like hands. (Sadly, my daughter still has nightmares because of this). (Frankly, she still has nightmares about me changing her diapers).

All seriousness aside, almost no robots made these days look like Robby. Let's define a robot as a mechanical or artificial agent, usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry.

Here's a useful robot that does welding:

And here's a robot that runs fast:

Special Forces use robots that look and move like snakes, and that have cameras and microphones, in order to sneak around inside of buildings to scope them out and check for bad guys.

Robotic snakes can also be used for search and rescue.

More importantly, they can scare the heck out of your girlfriend. (A word of warning for you married guys. Do not try to scare your wives with a robotic snake. The aftermath is not worth it. Trust me on this.)

Here's a working, headless snake from Carnegie Mellon:

How about drones?

They're reproducing faster than rabbits. Your next Amazon delivery might be from a drone.

And how about self-driving cars?

They are robots, too.

Robot insects? Yes. Maybe they could fly around your house looking for harmful insects and zap them. I'll hold off on these for a few years.

But you can hold down costs by buying in bulk:

There are literally thousands of kinds of robots that are getting more useful on a daily basis. And, right now at least, it takes humans - lots of humans - to design them.

So if you're interested in designing robots, there may well be a job for you.

Will SkyNet eventually take control of these robots to rid itself of humanity? Apparently, Terminator IX will answer that question for us.

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