Forgot the Terminator, RoboCop, and Wall-E because there are some new bots in town. They call themselves "Telerobotics".
Earlier this week I read an article called "Drivers Wanted: Why Engineers Want To Climb Into The Cockpits Of Tiny Robot Vehicles."
It explained that these new tiny robots aren't here to take over our world, but instead are here to take us to unreachable parts of our world. Telerobotics will be able to get us into places we don't fit or cannot reach, like into turbines or engines.
How? By being small (fit-in-your-palm small) and through the use of virtual reality.
Operators will wear VR goggles, and will see a 3D image relayed from the robot. The human controller will be able to manipulate the robot's arms and hands in the field. This system will even allow the operator to model the robot's next moves, before giving the final go ahead.
These telerobotics have the potential to be a huge hit in the field service industry. They'll be able to enter machines and make repairs without taking the machine offline. Thus, saving time and money.
Roboticist John Hoare explained that they are focusing on telerobotics that fit certain profiles first. For example, they want to create a bot that can help turn open or close a failing gas-plant valve, a task that can be terribly expensive and challenging. This specific bot will be created with the ability to turn a valve in mind.
So, in this case, robots are not here to replace humans. Between our brains, and their physical capabilities, a human-robot team could be nearly unstoppable!
What kind of jobs would you use telerobotics for? How would your technicians feel about being inside a machine?