As robot manufacturers continue to attract increased attention and funding in the coming years, some suggest that the resources should be allocated to more practical pursuits. The robotics industry has a history of delighting tech-savvy consumers with fun, new gadgets and boosting business efficiency through operational automation. But some doubt the relevance of robotics for the general populace. These skeptics will soon have their questions answered. Robotics developers are currently hard at work producing a new wave of devices that could start saving human lives within the next few years.
Industry experts have recently begun developing robots to navigate dangerous terrain that humans cannot. These developments may have significant implications for first responders executing rescue operations in dangerous environments. Military officials are also looking to the technology to assume battlefield duties that could keep troops out of harm's way.
The Gemini-Scout robot, produced by Sandia Labs, is expected to be particularly useful in rescue operations following mine collapses. According to GizMag, the compact robot will be nimble enough to operating in tight quarters. It can also navigate through more than a foot of water, survive explosions and detect the presence of humans with thermal cameras. The Gemini-Scout would be a crucial mode of transportation for carrying food and medical supplies to trapped miners.
University of Michigan researchers have also developed MABEL, the world's fastest two-legged robot. The early prototype can already match the typical human jogging speed, according to ExtremeTech. The robot is constructed with a series of cables and joints that give it impressive agility. And if properly harnessed, MABEL could become a valuable first responder capable of locating humans during building fires or navigating mine fields.
Military researchers have also shown interest in using robotics to power unmanned vehicles and replace soldiers in combat zones. As reported by InventorsSpot, China recently developed its first flying drone robot. The U.S. Army is also testing a completely autonomous robotic truck that could be in service by the end of the year. The new vehicle could tag along on missions to quickly resupply troops or drive ahead of soldiers to scout potential danger.
From collapsed mines to burning buildings to battlefields, robots will soon be placed in harm's way. Their noble missions could extend the reach of rescue operations or take the place of humans in deadly environments. And as they do, robotics industry skeptics should take note of the impressive potential these robots hold.