The robots are coming – aren’t they
Humanoid Robots are the embodiment of artificial intelligence but the concept of human like automatons is very old. Karel Capek introduced the word robot in 1921 in a science fiction play (Behnke, 2008). However, these robots were not mechanical man made of metal but they were molded out of chemical blatter and looked exactly like humans. Nowadays, we would call these creatures androids, which is a humanoid robot designed to look as much like a real person as possible (Capek, 2008).
The development of the humanoids is now very advanced and possibilities are becoming bigger. Robots are becoming essential for that kind of tasks that are too dangerous for people. A great example is the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. Radiation levels became to high for humans to safely enter, so robots went first. The military and law enforcement also see possibilities. Power could be projected and wars could be fought with minimal risk to ‘real’ soldiers, with high accuracy and potentially less risk to civilians (Gillmor, 2013).
An example of the use of humanoids nowadays is in the US army, which tries to shrink the size of the brigade combat team by filling the gap with robots (Scholl, 2014). In order to do this, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Boston Dynamics, developed a humanoid, called Atlas (Gibbs, 2015). This humanoid can walk bipedal leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. Also, when the terrain is very challenging, this humanoid is very strong and coordinated. Atlas, is still being improved and researchers are also trying to develop robots as a platform for useful assistance in disaster scenarios, so they can take over dangerous situations where humans should not or cannot operate. In order to stimulate this research and development a contest has been started with a two million dollar price (Rosen, 2014).
Another example of humanoids is in hospitals. The Alberta Children’s Hospital in Canada has introduced robots to help young patients to stay calm as they get a blood test or a needle (Modjeski, 2015). These robots, called MEDi, work as a pain coach and accompany children when they are undergoing a medical procedure. This humanoid is also equipped with cognitive behavioral skills and can talk to children what they are going to experience during the procedure. By doing this they help the children to understand and anticipate on what will happen, which can lead to a reduction in pain experience of fifty percent (Kratochwill, 2015).
Another humanoid, similar to MEDi, is used in nursing homes. Her name is Zora and she is made in Belgium. This humanoid is not only developed to assist in sports and bingo but also to dispel loneliness. The social impact of the aging population is increasing and so are health costs. To prevent these costs from rising further, worldwide millions of dollars have been invested in health robotics. (Nijland, 2014). Robots, like Zora, might disburden caregivers and improve the quality of life for those cared for. However, an important role in the future success of robots is the acceptance of humans. Many elderly people see robots as impractical for the tasks they need help with including showering and dressing. However, improvements are made and researchers are working on building personal robots that are socially intelligent and interact and communicate with people in more human ways. While some people will prefer the care of an actual person instead of a robot, robots bring huge opportunities. They could respond to human cues, and provide care and reminders, which will help to relieve family members and the expense of elderly care (Bernard, 2014).
Would you accept the help of a humanoid regarding to personal care like MEDi and Zora? Or do you think this goes to far and humanoids should only be used in situations which are dangerous for humans?
Behnke, S., (2008), Humanoid Robots – From fiction to reality, KI- Zeitschrift, Vol. 4, Iss 8, pp. 5-9
Bernard, D., (2014), A robot to care for you in old age, <http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/2014/06/05/a-robot-to-care-for-you-in-old-age>, Retrieved on October 1, 2015
Capek, K., (2008), <http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/capek.htm>, Retrieved on October 1, 2015
Gibbs, S., (2015), Google’s massive humanoid robot van now walk and move without wires, <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/21/googles-massive-humanoid-robot-can-now-walk-and-move-without-wires>, Retrieved on October 1, 2015
Gillmor, D., (2013), With robots and data, can Google keep to its promise not to be evile?, <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/19/google-robots-data-boston-dynamics-possibilities>, Retrieved on September 30, 2015.
Kratochwill, L., (2015), CES 2015: RXrobots’s cute humanoid robot helps kids during treatments, <http://www.popsci.com/ces-2015-rx-robots-medi-coming-us-hospitals-soon>, Retrieved on October 1, 2015
Modjeski, M., (2015), Alberta’s Children’s Hospital introduces robotic bedside buddies, <http://metronews.ca/news/calgary/1291199/alberta-childrens-hospital-introduces-robotic-bedside-buddies/>, Retrieved on October 1, 2015
Nijland, M., (2014), Zorgrobot Zora: een feest in het verzorgingstehuis, <http://www.lindanieuws.nl/nieuws/borrelpraat/zorgrobot-zora-een-feest-in-het-verzorgingstehuis/>, Retrieved on October 1, 2015
Rosen, M., (2014), Desiging robots to help in a disaster, <https://www.sciencenews.org/article/designing-robots-help-disaster>, Retrieved on September 30,2015
Scholl, C., (2013), US Army to replace human soldiers with “Humanoid Robots”, <http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-army-to-replace-human-soldiers-with-humanoid-robots/5371657>, Retrieved on September 30, 2015