To many of us, service robots often mean robots that assist the elderly, or help with the rehabilitation of medical patients. But the range of services that robots can perform is extremely broad. Some are involved in agricultural tasks that are either dangerous or rough on humans, such as weed-pulling and harvesting crops. Others collect trash and garbage, or work in recycling to sort waste from usable, reclaimable materials.
In security and law enforcement, there are simple robots that autonomously "walk" a beat looking for sensor readings that raise an alarm, as well as telepresence robots that can give disabled police or veterans jobs as remote patrol officers. Other robots, shaped like fish, swim in schools to detect polluting chemicals in seawater, and one robot is being developed to go into orbit as a combined mobile gas station and spacecraft mechanic.
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Robotic fish that swim in schools and cooperate using artificial intelligence to detect and identify pollution in seawater have been created by SHOAL, an EU-funded group of researchers led by BMT Group. The goal is to cut the time required to detect pollution in ports and other aquatic areas from weeks to seconds, using the robotic fishes' chemical sensors for onsite analysis. The robots can avoid obstacles, determine where to look for pollution using mapping, locate its source, maintain a maximum communication distance from the rest of the school, send data underwater back to a base station, and return to it for recharging. (Source: BMT Group)
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