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Slideshow: Robots Tackle Surprising Tasks

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Rob Spiegel
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The new race of robots
Rob Spiegel   10/31/2013 8:04:28 PM
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For decades, robots have completed repetitive human tasks in automotive factory lines. Now robots are getting a crack at more sophisticated human tasks such as administer drugs and washing the hair of hospital patients.

Droid
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Re: The new race of robots
Droid   11/1/2013 9:26:35 AM
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Not sure about having a robot care for me while I'm drooling in my oatmeal at the nursing home.  I'm thinking there are a number of disgusting cleanup tasks that the nursing staff would like to pass on to the new robotic staff....   So please if you are developing a robot - make sure it has gentle hands.

mattd
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The task I want
mattd   11/1/2013 9:50:01 AM
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How about a robot that can actually scratch my back...I might be willing to pay some good money for that!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The new race of robots
Rob Spiegel   11/1/2013 11:48:22 AM
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Hey Droid, good point. I wonder if we'll eventually see stories about robots gone wild in nursing homes.

NadineJ
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Re: The new race of robots
NadineJ   11/1/2013 1:15:06 PM
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Droid, it's true that the things we ask health care workers to do are considered disgusting.  But, the robots can help keep nurses and staff safe and healthy.  Lifting hundreds of pounds of dead weight to check for bedsores, change a bad pan or transfer a patient from a bed to a wheelchair causes thousands of back injuries every year.

Robots working with people could be a good solution for end of life care.

NadineJ
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Re: The new race of robots
NadineJ   11/1/2013 1:17:51 PM
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"robots gone wild??"  Rob, can you elaborate on that?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The new race of robots
Rob Spiegel   11/1/2013 2:38:22 PM
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Hey Nadine, how about robot malfunctioning in the nursing home?

Ralphy Boy
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Re: The new race of robots
Ralphy Boy   11/1/2013 3:09:43 PM
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Those are great examples of what is out there Rob...

It looks like the current batch of sophisticated robots are mostly specialized in very narrow tasks. The hospital helpers come to mind... One washes hair, another admins drugs, another lifts in and out of bed. In a few years that will likely change. But how many jobs will be lost to a small fleet of HC Robots once they can do it all? Stay tuned I guess.

On another note... It's not that simple a thing to program bots for the unexpected. We have a new 400 ton press that is off loaded by an industrial Fanuc 6 axis LR Mate 200ic.

http://www.fanucrobotics.com/cmsmedia/datasheets/LR%20Mate%20200iC%20Series_10.pdf

After certain types of faults or maintenance events it will some times attempt to commit suicide if the exact sequence of buttons is not pressed during restart. What it does is rapid into the press when the press is not expecting it. The light curtain is all that saves the robot from being terminated...

It has done this 2 nights in a row now. It's being looked into by the machine builder's code guys.

I am resisting hanging a 'Terminator' name tag on the control panel cause... no one will be laughing if it finds a coded loophole around the light curtain.

Back to the HC Bots... Take care when restarting after a fault... I wouldn't want my Depends (or anything else for that matter) on/in the wrong end.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The new race of robots
Rob Spiegel   11/1/2013 3:16:08 PM
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That's a great story, Ralphy Boy. Sounds like the safety system held up well. Once the problem is solved, you should submit it as a Shderlok Ohms entry.

Ralphy Boy
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Re: The new race of robots
Ralphy Boy   11/1/2013 3:22:55 PM
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Thanks for the thought Rob, but we are just now getting to run this piece at night. The 2 day shift operators are engineers and they are inside the debug loop. I may not even be told when it is fixed. It may just stop happening one day night.

The day guys have seen this a few times too though so 'we' didn't discover anything new. New machines are frequently slowly developing list of action items... This is a big one in my mind. 

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