Innovation is now business-as-usual for companies in fields across the spectrum, from manufacturing and health care to education and hospitality. How are these different fields applying robotics to meet the need to adapt and innovate?
Health Care Innovations
The medical field is experiencing some of the most exciting innovations in technology. We may be a few years away from our own personal Baymax to watch over our health and wellbeing, but robots are already having a beneficial impact on health. For a survey of what’s already available, check out the slideshow on today’s medical robots at Medical Daily.
Using robotics for surgery has been more commonplace in recent years. And effectiveness and safety of medical robotics continues to be the focus for big players like Google, as WIRED Magazine reported recently.
There’s a lot of excitement around nanotechnology in medicine. Tiny robots known as nanobots are generating a lot of buzz, with CNN headlines like “Will nanotech soon allow you to swallow the doctor?” Medical professionals are at the forefront of creative innovation with robotic technologies.
But there are other ways that robotics are improving the health of the nation that may be obvious. Industry leaders credit robotics with the elimination of repetitive-motion injuries. John Tranquilli, materials manager says: “At Apple Rubber, we use robots for the repetitive jobs that can cause long-term health issues for employees. With robotic pickers, we can eliminate those health issues as well as avoid any dangers associated with injection or molding machines. Robots save us money, time and risk.”
The cutting edge is robots that work side-by-side with humans, Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff reports in an article about tech trends for 2015. He quotes Julie Shah: “In 2015, we’ll see this have more of an impact on manufacturing.” Shah is a professor and leader of the Interactive Robotics Group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Perhaps someday carpal tunnel syndrome will be a thing of the past. In the meantime, robots will likely continue to cut labor costs. And that capital saved by utilizing robots for dangerous and repetitive jobs can be invested in innovation, and in employees who are innovators. Instead of merely replacing the human workforce, robots may create an environment in which human workers have better, more rewarding, creative jobs.
The workforce of tomorrow must be prepared to enter with the skills to adapt and innovate. That starts early.
Preparing young minds for a future in which innovation is an expectation is crucial. Fortunately, it can also be a lot of fun. Check out a recent Top 5 list from Tech Cocktail. Children are all-natural innovators, and those in the education field are finding ways to encourage this inherent capacity. Ozobot helps kids learn programming and PLEO rb is a robotic pet.
Even public libraries are riding this wave. Makerspaces are going in at libraries around the country. Robotics, 3D printing and product design are all a part of the movement to let the next generation of innovators get hands-on experience.
For workers who want training (or retraining) in robotics, community colleges are stepping up with an increasing number of programs. Ivy Tech, for example, works with industry partners such as Honda.
The first ever hotel run by charming, life-like robots will open in Japan, the country that is arguably the leader in advanced robotics. The hotel won’t open until July, so it might be some time before there will be data to prove the robot hotel clerk’s value. Stay tuned!
Robotics will continue to change the workforce, growing ever-more indispensable in a widening array of fields as the technology advances. The future of robots is not just in the factory — it’s everywhere.