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Robots As Social Workers In Today’s Times

  /  Robotics   /  Robots As Social Workers In Today’s Times
Tomsk Polytechnic University Toyota Japan Robot Artificial Intelligence

Robots As Social Workers In Today’s Times

Can Robots be used to address the Social Challenges of the World?


The hype and hysteria of robots are everywhere. Every day we read numerous articles about how theycan simplify our lives while stealing our jobs or may someday be a threat to our kind. As a result, we believe that we are living in the future where these manmade machines have infiltrated every aspect of society. Despite all the hubbub, scientists and world leaders have started to believe that robots and robotics can solve some of the critical social issues we face on a daily basis. This includes food insecurity, helping patients with mental illness, to encouraging children exercise, and more.

For instance, a group of researchers from the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU), a university in Russia, have developed robotic bees, or ‘robobees’, that can pollinate plants as effectively as real bees. The project cost US$ 1.4 million last year and was used in enclosed spaces, such as for strawberry plants. Meanwhile, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology unveiled drones that can pollinate plants. Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions collaborated under the Hands-Free Hectare (HFHa) project to deploy robots to cultivate wheat in winter. These examples illustrate how these machines are viewed as a viable solution to eradicating food insecurity. Social robots also act in childcare and development roles by supplementing the interaction of human caregivers (Feil-Seifer and Matarić, 2010). In Rajasthan, Gridbots’ robots are used to clean up municipal water tanks that generally required draining out of water.

In Japan, Preferred Networks which is a Tokyo based artificial intelligence firm partnered with Toyota to use Toyota’s Human Support Robot (HSR), to provide basic care and support assistance in nursing and long-term care applications. Another Japanese company called SoftBank Robotics, offers robot Nao and Pepper and a cute robot seal Paro, to help patients with dementia. Also, we have a social robot Zora that is used to assist children in recovering from physical injuries by encouraging them to exercise. It also inspires nursing home residents to stay active. Further, there is a robot that can improve children’s motivation in the classroom, called Tico.

Scientists have also begun work on building biohybrid robots that can be employed to address energy concerns in the future. These robots are made by infusing tissue engineering with robotics and artificial intelligence, where researchers build robots powered by living muscle tissue or cells. These devices can be stimulated electrically or with light to make the cells contract to bend their skeletons, causing the robot to swim or crawl. Since the metabolic energy generation in organisms is very high, advancement in this field can mean alternate sources of fuel of humans.