Robotics, AI, and the Future of Robotics have long proven that it is here to stay.
Robots are prevalent in the electronics, automotive, health care and most high-tech manufacturing industries.
One can find them placing IC chips, welding cars, sorting pharmaceuticals, handling parts from machining tools (e.g., CNC machines) and a host of other applications.
Still, the allure of robots in many science fiction movies alludes us.
Most of the robotics or “robots” we see today are more of a combination of precise stepping motors and other mechanical devices with limited ability to do a wide variety of tasks.
In a word, they are highly specialized with limited ability to “think.”
Advances in technology will change that.
The question robotics is not a question of is if it will happen but when will it happen.
Many scientists, engineers and other technical people involved in robotics may have the answer.
When it comes to the future for robotics, the merger of artificial intelligence (AI) is the key.
Most of the aforementioned professionals agree on this as the crucial element to progress.
AI offers things like face recognition, Siri-like speech recognition, new camera technology and advanced mobility (e.g., bipedal locomotion).
These features may make personal assistant like a Star Wars-like C-3POs a reality.
Bits and pieces of these advanced capabilities already exist in the domain of advanced research and development labs throughout the world.
The challenge that lies ahead is to “put it all together” and make something useful and affordable enough for the general population.
The computer revolution seems to be ongoing with new advances happening every day.
New faster and more compact computer technologies will soon find their way into ordinary products such as cars, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and home appliances.
The distinction between what is a robot and what is ordinary will become blurry.
The sky’s the limit and one can only look at the self-driving car phenomenon to know it is a real thing.
Technical problems still exist but most would agree that they are not insurmountable.
What may not be so evident is the impact on society.
One of the major issues is that of trust.
How many in society would really trust a robotic airline pilot to make an emergency landing?
How many would trust a robotic chauffeur to drive them in crazy traffic or during an ice storm?
How about a robotic heart surgeon?
Most think the transition will be gradual enough that mankind will be able to ease into it.
With self-driving cars, for example, many features available today highly automate the driver functions without totally surrendering full control to computerized functions.
Perhaps over time, these features will eventually gain trust and the next level of automation will build on the last.
Trust takes time.