Before trying to understand robotics, let us first be clear on what are robots. They are different versions from different people on what they categorize as robots. On that is most agreed upon is that :
Robots are a machine capable of reducing human efforts by performing a complex set of tasks automatically.
They are programmable by computers and may be controlled by an external source or a source embedded inside them. Autonomous cars, voice assistants, humanoids, etc. are all examples of robots.
Now coming back to Robotics
Robotics is the branch of engineering that deals with the designing, construction, control, usage, etc. of the robots.
It is an interdisciplinary branch that includes but isn't confined to computer science, electronics, mechanical, information engineering, etc.
Why is it interesting
There is a reason this field excites every technological enthusiast. It is really fascinating to see the latest discoveries. There are reasons that drive people towards working in this field.
- Robotics tries to mix the best of the worlds of hardware and software.
- It aims to automate the risky, tedious and boring stuff so that humans can concentrate on other problems(there are a lot of them, believe me!).
What are the concerns
The drastic evolution and the ever-growing usage of robotics in our daily lives has also raised a few valid concerns.
- While robots have increased productivity and efficiency in most fields, according to a report published in Oxford Economic Forum estimate, up to 20 million manufacturing jobs are set to be lost to robots by 2030.
- All robots aren't that safe. There is a reason fenced robots in manufacturing are fenced.
- This concern is not much of an issue considering the current scenario but needs to be addressed in the future. Robotics in combination with Artificial Intelligence could be used against humans
- The world still suffers from the waste disposal issues, electronics waste disposal only adds to its concerns.
What is the future
Robots have entered almost all fields and threaten to broaden their scope every day. The constant evolution in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, etc has opened up more avenues for robotics.
- Drone deliveries have just started but it will surely be a thing to watch out for.
- All Terrain Robots (ATR) will be used for successfully rescuing people from forests and areas where humans would take a lot more time to reach. Research regarding this was published by the National Science Foundation, United States of America in 2011.
- RoboCup, an organization is working on building robots that can win a soccer game in FIFA 2050. This would really be a spectacle to watch. Their objective in their own words:
By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.
Currently, robots are driving cars, patrolling (UAV - unmanned aerial vehicles), cooking and what not but most of these fields are yet developing. This is both exciting as well as scary.