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The Industrial Robot Revolution


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RoboPult

RoboPult: a fireball-throwing robotic catapult.

Credit: Manapotions.com

A dramatic shift in how robots are made and perceived is leading to their widespread adoption and use.

"Today's robots are cheaper, lighter, agile, and equipped with sensors to make them safer so they can work alongside humans," says the Robot Report's Frank Tobe. For example, Carnegie Mellon University researchers are developing robots to use in plant and tree nurseries that will automatically move containers around based on their optimal environments.

Columbia University researchers are developing robots to improve medicine and surgical procedures. "You're soon going to see a whole class of small, disposable, inexpensive systems that will do simple surgeries such as gall bladder and kidney removal, and hysterectomies," says Columbia professor Peter Allen.

Meanwhile, Microsoft researchers are developing a comprehensive robotics platform. "Although there are a lot of developers writing robotics applications, they are not experts in that domain," says Microsoft's Stathis Papaefstathiou. "So we want to provide the robotics development infrastructure that they will need."

However, the widespread use of robots still faces several obstacles, such as the need for better batteries. "Five years from now robots will be far more ubiquitous and we'll depend on them in a much more fundamental way," says FIRST national adviser Woodie Flowers.

From Network World
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