Robotics has revolutionized the world in two distinct phases. The first phase brought electric machines that could perform repetitive tasks but were otherwise useless. Robots such as these were used in car manufacturing and on assembly lines for similar products.
The second phase has started to create industrial robots that don't just perform simple tasks; they absorb data and respond to new information so that they actively improve. While these robots are still predominantly seen in the automotive industry, it won't be long before they affect every type of industry.
1. The Health Care Industry
The health care industry evolves rapidly in relation to incorporating the latest innovations and technological advances. Robotics has been a major player in the current evolution of this industry. Intuitive Surgical, Inc’s da Vinci robots, for example, are surgical robots that are used by doctors and are considered the standard of care to perform minimally invasive prostatectomies. They can also help a doctor perform hysterectomies, lung surgeries and other types of procedures.
An even less invasive robotic innovation that has changed the health care industry is from iRobot, a remote presence robot that allows outpatient specialists to interact with their patients. This robot allows doctors to administer a more personalized experience, even from a substantial distance.
2. Military and Public Safety Industries
When a person thinks about robots revolutionizing an industry, the most common thought is that of the military or public safety industry. Due in large part to the development of drones, the public has seen the military industry completely change, becoming one that uses robots to conduct reconnaissance, battlefield support and sentry duty.
The public safety industry has also benefited from these types of robots. Drones can now be first responders to car accidents or other types of accidents. For example, there are many companies that are developing unmanned, remote-controlled flying drones that can provide real-time analysis and monitor potentially dangerous situations. These types of drones have applications for both military and public safety use.
Robots are also revolutionizing the way these two industries conduct surveillance. IRobot is developing a robot concept that will allow a 5-pound machine outfitted with cameras and sensors to be dropped into burning buildings or hostage situations for risk assessment.
3. The Manufacturing Industry
The modern manufacturing industry first started using industrial robots as early as 1961. Back then, robots were automatic, doing repetitive and menial tasks that people found boring or dangerous. Since then, robots have evolved to the point where they are now more efficient than unskilled labor in the manufacturing industry.
For example, Australia's Drake Trailers has reported that it included a single welding robot into its production line and saw a 60% increase in productivity. Robots that are increasing productivity in the manufacturing industry are also becoming intelligent, sometimes working and learning alongside people to increase the number of manufacturing tasks that they can complete.
4. The Mining Industry
The mining industry, once reliant on human capital, is now predominantly reliant on technology and advanced robotics. These types of robots conduct reconnaissance and compile important information about the interior of a mine. This provides a safer work environment for the remaining human miners. For example, Stanley Innovation has an advanced custom robot that is placed on a Segway robotic mobility platform (RMP), allowing it to maneuver over hazardous terrain.
Additionally, the digging equipment itself has become extremely advanced in recent years. Currently, robot-operated drills can conduct drilling deep in the Earth as well as offshore, allowing mining companies to dig deeper and in more treacherous conditions than if they had to rely on human operators.