‘I can’t go on’: A robot ‘can’t go to the toilet’
Mechanical eye, MechaEye,mecha tool kits and a robot that can’t use a toilet are just some of the things robots can do now, according to an engineer who has been using them to help solve a problem that has plagued robots since the 1960s.
Dr John Gannon is one of several people who have made a living using robots to do things like vacuum up waste or do other tasks that humans could not.
He says the use of robots in the public sector has been a boon for the economy.
“I think it’s helped a lot, and I think it has been fantastic for our society,” he said.
One of the reasons why robots are so successful is that they can be programmed and are able to do tasks that human beings simply cannot do.
Some people believe that robots should be banned in the workplace as a result.
But Dr Gannon said it was important to remember that robots were not being developed for work.
“We’re talking about things that you’d find in a factory,” he explained.
“There are a lot of people that have spent their whole life working on a machine and they’re now at the end of their career, they’ve moved on to something else, and they’ve decided to get a job with an autonomous robot, and it’s very different to a factory.”
Dr Gannon, who is also a consultant at the University of New South Wales, said robots were designed to do the same jobs humans do.
“If we want robots to be used in jobs like farming, mining, farming in particular, we should be looking at the best use cases and using those in the most appropriate way,” he argued.
“It is an engineering challenge, and robots have to be optimised to do those jobs.”
Dr Brian Daley from the Australian Robotics Network agrees.
“The question is not whether we can automate, but when do we need to?
It’s a balance that we need some balance in,” he told 7.30.
Dr Daley said there were a number of uses for robots, including to do manual work.
But for many of us, the most common use case was to take care of our elderly and disabled family members.
“When we need a robot to do a task, that’s probably one of the most important things that they’re doing,” he added.
“I’m not talking about just looking after your elderly family members.”
Dr Dannon said the robots that have been deployed in the military and the public sectors were not designed for a job like manual labour.
“Most robots are not designed to be very good at this job, and we’re seeing more and more robots that are designed for that, which is a big problem,” he concluded.