Robotics has always been one of the most fascinating technologies of all, for reasons that go far beyond purely functional assumptions. The objective of artificially recreating man is based on primarily humanistic foundations , even before technological ones, and this is demonstrated by the continuous debates linked to the potential threat that the massive implementation of robotics could pose for man himself, starting from the potential reduction in employment for all those tasks that automatons are able to carry out more efficiently.
The evolving scenario of robotics in emerging technology will see a growing effort to provide answers from both a technological and ethical point of view, although it is true that all the actors involved do not agree on a single interpretation of problems or solutions.
Evolution of Robotics in Emerging Technology
The evolving robotics scenario is undoubtedly one of the most interesting in the field of emerging technologies and will see a growing commitment to providing answers from both a technological and ethical point of view.
The very close relationship between robotics and artificial intelligence lays the foundations for the discussion of a regulatory framework, finally capable of outlining guidelines shared at an international level. For now we are far from reaching this goal, but the proposal for a European regulation for artificial intelligence is an evolutionary moment that we must equate with a milestone on a path that must be faced.
Defining the scope of robotics is a difficult undertaking, because there are many different types of robots, each of which is capable of making a functional contribution to almost any application involving humans. Below are the few fields of robotics which will create huge impact in future technology.
It refers in a broad sense to intelligent robots capable of implementing certain services, including those related to logistics. The automated management of a warehouse involves the movement of a huge quantity of goods, which must be identified, stored and transferred during very precise cycles. A robot can now manage almost all of these phases practically autonomously, reducing human intervention to a minimum, often delegated to purely supervisory roles.
Among the other applications of service robotics we find, for example, agricultural ones, such as drones which, thanks to specific sensors, allow companies involved in precision agriculture to be supported in the acquisition and analysis of the data necessary to make production more efficient. profitability of the land occupied by crops and to reduce the environmental impact thanks to a more rational use of resources.
The Defense industry has always been a source of great research and development for new robotic systems, capable of subsequently evolving towards civilian objectives. Recently, attention has focused particularly on aerial and terrestrial drones, capable of carrying out high-risk operations without compromising the safety of the military.
This condition allows you to carry out operations that human limits would otherwise make impossible, such as remaining in a hostile environment for consecutive hours and days, rather than in all those situations in which it is in no way convenient to jeopardize human safety, which can benefit more by flying the drone remotely.
We are not just talking about armed aircraft, but about many applications capable of safely solving a need that is often dedicated to disarmament. This is the case of the well-known bomb disposal robots, capable of identifying an explosive and neutralizing it, thanks to remote control and the supervision of the military, who in this way are not directly exposed to the serious consequences that the smallest error of judgment could entail. In the worst case scenario, the damage would be absorbed exclusively by the robot.
It includes all the robots that give life to the so-called Smart Home, the applications of intelligent home automation. Home automation involves IoT systems with interconnected devices, which include the classic vacuum cleaner/floor cleaning robots, kitchen robots, lawn mower robots, cleaning robots and surveillance robots, just to mention those with household appliance functions, already widely used in our homes.
Domestic robots are currently very widespread on the market and it is no coincidence that their selling price is decidedly more accessible than that of systems with a similar level of complexity, but sectorized in other areas. Among the robots active in the domestic space but oriented towards relationships with people and animals, there is a more specific category, that of entertainment robots, or social robots.
A privileged, albeit elitist, field of action for robotics has always been that of aerospace engineering. Action in environments that are by nature decidedly hostile to human action favors the action of machines to carry out the greatest number of tasks possible, on board space stations, rather than in the exploration of the planets and satellites of the solar system.
For example, the international space station hosts many robots, which came into action at different times. Relatively recently, the Robonaut R1 and R2 were introduced, rather than the CIMON, robots equipped with artificial intelligence capable of supporting the astronaut crew in conducting the scientific experiments that characterize most of the day in orbit.
Space rovers have long been active in the field of exploration , such as the famous Curiosity, sent by NASA to Mars. Despite the remote and rather inhospitable environment of the red planet, Curiosity does not suffer from loneliness, however, since several rovers and drones are currently active on Mars, including Opportunity, Perserverance or the Ingenuity helicopter drone, which was recently added the Chinese rover Zhurong. A fleet destined to expand while awaiting the first manned mission.
Always in a privileged field of application, industrial applications are in many ways the main driving factors of the robotics market. Industrial robotics represents the essence of the noble automaton hypothesized by Aristotle, the one who was supposed to free man from the slavery of heavy and exhausting work.
Unlike other areas of application, industrial robotics is not at all new, as its large-scale manifestations date back to the seventies, after the famous Unimate robot had made its appearance on the assembly lines of the company in the previous decade. General Motors. Industrial robotics is currently experiencing a phase of profound transformation.
If the currently most widespread robots are oriented towards automating a repetitive process, replacing humans in that particular situation, the newly developed robots adopt the logic of industry 4.0, the intelligent factory, which sees devices as interconnected and functionally autonomous. Among the objectives of the 5.0 paradigm, a further evolution foreseen for the current 4.0 model, there is the diffusion of the so-called third level robots, capable of learning and deciding autonomously thanks to the presence of neural networks and the ability to write their own algorithms needed to support their operations.
In more general terms, robotics 4.0 is increasingly widespread in monitoring, data acquisition and analysis, simulation, diagnostics and predictive maintenance operations.
This article, although a brief overview the latest evolution of robotics in emerging technology, which has opened our eyes to the challenges that lie ahead. While it is clear that robots are destined to change our lives and the way we perceive them, we must not lose sight of their importance as tools, nor ignore their potential for further development that could make humans themselves superfluous.
However, we can only be optimistic about their future if we accept them alone, always on an equal footing with humans, who must maintain their role as robots’ best companion, capable of developing them and helping them develop.