WikiRobotics/The Future of Robotics

Robotics and Popular cultureEdit

 
Science fiction novels often explore future worlds in which robots are the rulers of humans.

Popular conception, when it comes to robots, is frequently rooted in science fiction stories taking place in the future. We often start from this sort of story-like concept of where we are possibly going, because it is the most familiar frame of reference for those who know little of robotics to begin with. There are some who predict we will serve roles more similar to those in science fiction at some point, perhaps even within the next ten to twenty years. However, the advancement of robotics over the past century can be considered a little underwhelming; most major advances in technology have been more software-based than hardware. This is not entirely a bad thing, since better software means more possible things to program a robot to do.

MethodsEdit

There are two ways to consider the future (of anything). In the first, we can look at a few years down the road and make an educated guess as to what robotics companies are working on now would result in. Secondly, we can consider what it will be like in the longer term, multiple decades later, where things become more fantastic and the technology is more sophisticated overall. In either of these frames of reference, we can consider what purposes tomorrows robots will serve, as well as who is building them.

Near FutureEdit

 
A delivery robot used to transport groceries. Robots today automate a number of tedious tasks for humans.

Most robots being used today and in the near future are usually centered on menial labor or military usage, though these are hardly the only uses. While robots exist that can be able to perform surgery, it is not routine yet; in 10 years it may be. Robots to perform household tasks are roughly 20 years away. Whenever a “new” technology is created, the first to use it are frequently the military. Although there currently aren’t any autonomous robots at the military's disposal, which could change twenty years down the road.

Long TermEdit

 
A molecular propeller. Nano scale machines are an example of a promising long term frontier in Robotics.

When it comes to who, that question is not just restricted to companies, but countries as well. (Japan, America, South Korea, etc.) While most of the world could expect the types of robots mentioned above in twenty years, there are Japanese companies that plan to make such advancements and more in ten years. One such advancement involves nanorobots. There is the hope of perfecting them to the point where placing these in the bloodstream could make them slow down, and perhaps even stop aging, among other health benefits. South Korea plans to have a robot in every household as soon as they can.

It would be unwise to expect many big steps forward in this field within the next five years. We’re still a quarter of a century away at least from having things like the flying car or the android. Before then, we’ll have to make do with robots that entertain or work for us rather than those that can fly us around. However, given it’ll take less than fifty years for such growth to happen, I’m sure some of us could wait.