Robotics Dreams

Mission: STS-41-B Film Type: 70mm Title: Views...

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Research in the field of robotics is rapidly progressing every day. From robots that emulate the development
of a human child to robots that can run, leap and self-stabilize, there seems to be no end in sight to what
researchers can make robots do. The average American mind runs rampant with visions about what robots can
and will do, though the common ideas are inaccurate at best. Robots have much to offer the world, particularly
when it comes to the work conducted in space.

The idea that most people have of robots and their development is heavily influenced by Hollywood and other
mainstream media. Many are certain that, if robotic research continues advancing, the world will soon be
overtaken by militant, emotionless machines seeking to rid the world of illogical meat-bags. The “Terminator”
movie series, the
video game
series, “I, Robot” and a seemingly-endless list of other media franchises portray robots and artificial
intelligences as evil, logic-driven killing machines, but this does a disservice to robotics as a whole. Most robots
currently in use are not autonomous and, in fact, require a remote human operator to function. This has been put
to great use in disaster areas, where rescue workers often cannot safely enter buildings or may be too large to fit
under rubble. Another area in which human-operated robots are being put to use is in space, replacing astronaut
space walks.

One benefit that robots operating in space can offer is increased safety for
astronauts. Space walks, though routine, carry with them a lot of danger. Anything that goes wrong can spell
disaster, particularly since there are no medical facilities available if an astronaut is harmed. In addition to
reducing immediate danger to astronauts, if robots prevent astronauts from undertaking physically stressful
actions repeatedly, it can eliminate possible long-term health problems, reducing their reliance on
major medical insurance and keeping them
healthier, longer. Ensuring that the nation’s astronauts, the best, brightest and most physically fit the USA has to
offer, retain their health will make them available for more missions and will prove that the nation is committed
to honoring those who risk their lives for knowledge and vital research.

Though most people tend to think of “Terminator” or “I, Robot” when they consider the future of robotics,
the more likely outcome is one of increasing utility. Robots will continue performing work that would be too
dangerous for humans to perform and their usefulness in these potentially deadly situations will only increase.

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