These days, robots come in every shape and size -- and even change shape -- for a wide range of purposes, from helping autistic kids to swarming into a sensor network in a war zone. Some robots are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, while others are more than two stories tall.
Zeno helps diagnose autism and can also provide therapy to autistic kids. Soldiers are now aided by a carrier robot that helps with the growing burden of equipment that they need in combat.
There's a stainless-steel robot that helps in drug research, and Japan’s growing elder population has prompted the development of a wide range of helper robots for hospitals and home care. One will wash your hair, some will dispense your medications, another will communicate with your doctor.
Click on the photo below to see just how advanced these bots have become.
The RI-MAN was designed to look after the elderly. It was specifically engineered to lift and carry humans. The 5-ft, 220-lb RI-MAN includes sensors that allow it to see, hear, touch, and smell. (Source: Bio-Mimetic Control Research Center)
Thank you Rob for the great slide show. Robotic systems seem to be more and more life-like as the years go by. I am surprised at how the Japanese have chosen to investigate usage of the "bots" relative to their ageing population. My father is in an assisted living complex and I can certainly see applications in that facility especially for mundane tasks such as picking up and delivering laundry, bringing meals, possibly in bringing medications, etc etc. I feel quite confident that this important technology will eventually be applied in that fashion here in the "states". Again, excellent slide show.
The problem seems to lie in that the press has a control panel and controller, and the robot has its own controller and control panel. Both AB, but I suspect that the robot does not have to ask permission before entering the press's work space. So, if it gets out of sequence it can dive right in if it decides to. Then the press e-stops until you remove the bot.
The problem for us (me and the night operator) is that it requires a password and more pendant knowledge than we have at the moment in order to back the robot out. So, we ended 2 nights with the robot inside the press. Imagine that kind'a scenario in a healthcare situation...
Yes, this does sound like a big one, Ralphy Boy. It would be a good story to tell at Design News -- to illustrate what can go wrong, how it can be fixed, and how safety worked when things went haywire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
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