Delegate Some Responsibilities to Your Robots
Since the middle of the last century, process automation has been on the increase, while industries have benefited a lot from its usage, not much has been achieved at the domestic end. Lot of manual labour have been replaced with machines that know exactly what to do and when to then. Their precise nature had resulted in more efficient products and services. The process automation industry has continued to grow since then, resulting in the development of robots.
The closest a lot of people have to robots playing any roles in the home has been from movies, unfortunately, most movies tend to portray robots as electronic devices that start up as good guys under control but eventually become the bad guys who go out of control before been destroyed just before inflicting a damage on the world. Away from movies, robots have been deployed in a lot of very useful roles.
The technological development of this branch of science started in the 1950s and is today a matured technology that is already assisting humans in the manufacturing, space, military, engineering and transportation sectors. There have been a lot of fear that robots were taking over the roles of human in the manufacturing industry but that has been countered with the significantly reduction in the previously high injuries and accidents of workers, time spent in production and manufacturing defects. The automotive industry were among the first to appreciate the role robots could play in their sector has since resulted in more cars made with much better precise welding and almost zero tolerances at a rate than could ever be achieved by humans.
Electronic manufacturing industries have also began to appreciate the use of robots in the production of electronic circuit boards which is the main components of our computers, TVS, music players, home theatres, phones and other electronic devices.
The healthcare sector has also not be left behind in this development. There have been lot of successful examples of precise, minimally invasive surgery performed with the assistants of robots. In some of these cases, the operations have been performed remotely with the doctor operating from as far as hundreds of kilometres away from the patient’s bed. Robots have made it possible for surgeons to perform micro cuts and operations that were hitherto beyond the scope of human ability.
Their overall impact has been that of better efficiency, fewer errors, lower wastages, more productivity and better products. Robots have also been deployed in hazardous areas to perform certain operations on behalf of humans in areas that are not accessible.
One sector that is however coming late to the party is the use of robots in the home. The responsibility and convenience of running a home can be tiring, tedious, overwhelming and difficult. The role of housekeeping can leave us fagged out at the end of each day and make us wonder if the 24hrs in a day are really enough for us. Humans have however learnt to share some of these roles over the years with their spouses, children, relations and employed domestic staffs. Most of these activities in the home are however routine and can be programmed to be done by a robot.
Whether it is house cleaning, cooking, dish washing, gardening, changing diapers or babysitting, the work involved in house chores are enormous and usually more challenging especially when kids begin to show up in the home. Babies by their very nature like a lot of attention, tendering and care, wouldn’t it be nice if we could delegate some tendering responsibilities to a caring robots while we dash out to do some shopping, attend a meeting, cater for other aspects of the home, cook, wash dishes, clean up the home and perform whatever chores we may have to do? Would we not be happy if the robots took over roles in the home beyond just babysitting? I wonder if there is any mother who would not be happy to have a robot that prepares a lunch box for our kids. While these responsibilities may be too farfetched at the moment for a robot, they have already starting to play various roles already. In the next decade, we’re like to see the robots increasingly begin to impacts our lives as they will seamlessly become part of our everyday lives. Simple robots forms are already performing various roles in our lives. Roomba, an iRobot vacuum cleaner is a good example of one of such robots which can be used to automatically clean homes. Robots will be made to play roles of toys, social partners, personal robots and assistants. Another robot called Pepper made by the guys from Aldebaran Robotics, is a good example of a humanoid robot companion. Designed in a human form, Pepper is able to assist in making certain choices, detect human facial expressions, kindly, endearing and communicates with people. Pepper can adapt its behaviour depending on its perception of a person’s mood. More than 140 SoftBank Mobile stores in Japan use Pepper as a new way of welcoming, informing and amusing their customers and has also been adopted in a lot of Japanese homes as a house companion. The challenge, however, is having robots that can understand human emotions and react to them constructively.
The use of robots in the home should not be confused with home automation. Home automation is the automation of the control of the lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and security, home appliances like our washers, dryers, ovens, refrigerators, freezers and laundry. Domestic robots on the other hand perform these roles by physically initiating such processes the same way a human would do it. Domestic robots are basically programmable computers integrated with electrically powered machines with capability to perform household chores. Depending on the type, they typically have some capacity for motion which allows them move around or operate other devices. They have to be pre programmed to perform their task while advanced systems use neural networks and artificial intelligence (AI) with capability to learn their roles over a period of time after performing them repeatedly. The robots can be delegated certain roles to play in the homes, the same way a governess can be delegated certain roles in the home, freeing us to perform other duties. They can be asked to clean our windows, mow our lawns, clear gutters, turn on your coffee maker, monitor and feed our pets at stipulated times.
Imagine having a robot that ensures all your appliances are put off at night after you have slept off on the couch while watching a movie, lock up all the doors at night while you are already in bed, turning off the gas when are away, put out a fire as soon as they start before becoming an inferno and call 911 in an emergency. Robots can also be made to handle your waste management. Some robots may or may not be remotely controlled. Some can have cameras, microphones, sensors and speakers installed that enables them to interact with people, monitor homes for security, get the dogs off the couch and also become toys for your kids. Using robots as part of our domestic staffs can reduce our workload; make life easier and more convenient. It wouldn’t matter if you are around or not, your home would still run efficiently.
With these benefits, robots will continue to infiltrate American homes, taking over annoying household chores and freeing up users’ time. Of course, not everything in a household can be done by robots, at least not yet. For example, robots have however not learnt how to have sex yet we still have to depend on fellow humans to do that. However, even that can be contested because lots of vibrators and sex machines exist that have taken over the role of men and some women have sworn that they achieve better orgasm with them. Other than that, the role can be limited to the following areas at the moment.
Security agencies have been using robots to enhance security on a larger scale. This is one area where a home can easily benefit from the use of robots. When used as a form of security, you can be assured of better reliability and efficiency because as robots, they do not suffer from fatigue after working long hours and they work dispassionately since they do not have friends to grant favours to. They treat every situation the same way. The robots could be installed with advanced security cameras, wifi connectivity, motion sensors, night vision and lot of other features. By integrating into the overall security plan of your home, they can help to detect, deter and respond to security breaches. Robots can monitor the house for long hours on end even at night. You can also use your security robots to send out commands to your dog.
Lighting is one of the most basic forms of security. Robots can be made to be in charge of switching on/off lights as the need arises. They can also add a sort of randomness to the control of such lights thereby deterring and preventing would be intruders. Security robots can serve as a part of an integrated physical home security. They can be used in detection, surveillance, access control, security cameras and basic fire fighting.
These robots are able to perform some levels of interaction and communication with humans. They have the ability to engage humans in entertaining, educative and informative manner. Social robots can be utilised in reducing the loneliness in the homes of single people, children and aged people. They are able to keep the company of the people they are with in a manner that however cannot replace that of humans but at best similar to pets.
Social robots can be used in this manner to engage children, by telling them bedtime stories, have discussions with children, be care givers to both children and the aged. The robots can be made to run simple errands, pick up objects for them and be generally useful. Some also can assist kids with their school homework or simply remind them to do their homework. Countries around the world with a shrinking youth population and more elderly people because of improvement in health care are being faced with a new dilemma of catering for their elderly people and senior citizens. Japan in particular is grappling with this problem and with the rate we are going, it will not be long before we also get faced with that problem if we are not even there yet. The number of people who provide such care to the aged has not increased in the same proportion as number of aging people. Japan however has taken steps to address the situation and has started adopting the use of carebots to address the situation. Carebots are robots specifically designed to assist elderly people. Some of these robots can help the elderly by getting them food, turning the lights on and off, some can even help carry the elderly from a bed to a wheel chair and vice versa. Such nursing robots are companion robots that assist in keeping the company of lonely people. Psychologists have over the years argued that social isolation is a serious health risk, which is why lots of kids require validation from their peers. The elderly also suffer a lot from social isolation and loneliness at the later part of their lives, when their list of friends begins to run thin.
Social robots can also help remind patients and the elderly to take their medication at the prescribed time, meet an appointment, eat, exercise and do any action that can improve their well being. The overly sensitive aged people can enjoy some sense of dignity when they know that they are not overly dependent on another human. This is usually a cause of resentment between the caregivers and the care takers. If you have ever provided some level of care to the aged, you would know that they can try your patience to no end, asking endless questions. Caregivers sometimes lose their patience in such a situation, but not our dear robots. Robots have the STEEL to withstand such a barge of pressure. Ask them the same question over and over again, they will keep answering you. Their companionship is different from what a fellow human offers but it is extremely useful. Some robots are also able to tell a joke, sing a song, welcome and entertain your guest.
Household chores are a major area where lots of people require some form of assistance especially if robots are able to provide it. Help in any form will be appreciated so that time can be spared for other aspects of our lives. Robots can help in the following aspects of our lives by:
- Helping with our laundry
- Loading and offloading the dishwashers
- Starting preparatory work for cooking meals (e.g., chopping vegetables)
- Cleaning the kitchen
- Cleaning the toilets and bathtubs
- Picking up objects (e.g., toys, newspaper, clothes, sneakers) from the floor and moving them to their proper places
- Help with moving heavy objects
Robots are now able to perform the duties of a vacuum cleaner on their own while you face other duties, some others are able to mow the lawn and clean your gutters.
Having these machines do these chores for us allow us spend more time with our kids, husband, boyfriends and friends. They can help you minimize your daily work and improve your quality of life.