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Robots in Society and the Future

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5458 words Published: 3rd Jul 2018

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It is a very true slogan from “Adidas” brand, “Nothing is Impossible”. Humans abilities are limited, and that is why robots are created. Have you ever imagine that, when you wake up in the morning, once you open up your eyes, everything that is in your mind such as breakfast, office wear, slippers and even more have already being prepared by your “robot-slave”. You do not have to do anything; all you have to do is, sit and wait! You just have to sit on your bed and wait for your robot to serve you, aren’t your life will be easier and wonderful? From this, we can see that how amazing it could be with the existence of robots. May be in the future, they are only our trusted friends.

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The unstoppable improvements of modern technologies, in the same line, robots are introduced into various fields to assist the human’s reckless abilities to improve their live. They have been widely used in industrial sector and also for personal use. The creation of robots is not only to assist us, but they give us good opportunities to be our substitute for exploration and experiment the new risky things that human had never dare to try but hunger to achieve.

Our purpose of this report is to find out the kinds of robots that have been introduced into our life and the future robots.

Our objectives are to find out:

  • What are robots?
  • Why do they exist?
  • How do robots exist?
  • What can they do? How far they can do?
  • What are the side effects for human if they are over-populated?
  • What is in human’s expectation on future robots?

2.0 Findings and Discussion

2.1 What are robots?

2.1.1 Brief History of Robot

When we said robots, we all feel that it was just only been made in this modern era. Actually the first creation of robot has been made centuries ago. The famous Leonardo da Vinci is also among all the creators who are involve in the creation and innovation of robots. The basic principles that motivate people to create the robots are to bring the advantages to mankind. First of all, the creations of robot begin with simple concept, with look like human, and then it can move. Through the evolution in times, the robots now are involving, now it can walk, talk, and behave like humans. The improvement of robots will never end, but now we can start to imagine how far robots will become in future.

2.1.2 Concept of Robot

Isaac Asimov (January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992)Generally, in all human’s thoughts, robots are human-like machines that have heads and limbs, move and talk like human, either with or without their own thoughts and can be fully automatic, or partially otherwise completely controlled by human. However in the world of reality, the basic concept of a robot is: “a machine which is programmed to move and perform multitude tasks automatically, or may be partially controlled by human”. It does not mean that robots must be built mimic to human, in fact they can be in any forms and shapes with different appearances as long as they meet the basic concept. According to a popular science fiction author, Isaac Asimov [1], he came out with 3 basic laws for robots, which they called it call “Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics”:

Robots must never harm human beings.

Robots must follow instructions from human without violating rule 1.

Robots must protect themselves without violating the other rules.

2.1.3 Classification of Robots

With the indefinite intelligence of human, robots have been invented in different kinds and ways, performing myriad tasks and jobs. The following are the basic classifications [2] for different robots:


Tele-robots are robots that need to be direct operated by human beings through remote control sytem. The best example will be the toy robots for kids, where these entertainment robots are needed to be guided by human to move, turn, or carry out tasks.

Telepresence Robots

The manipulations for telepresence robots are much similar to the Tele-robots above. The different is that telepresence robots will send back video, sound and other data to make the operator to feel more like they are in the robots. These robots are suitable to be used in exploration field, especially when the targeted exploration area is not accessible for human.

Static Robots

They are robots which are not movable from places to places. They are fixed permanently on one physical location to perform their tasks using only a part of their movable components. Static robots have been widely used, such as robotic arms, in factories and laboratories to handle hazardous materials and chemicals. In Malaysia, static robots or robotic arms can be seen in car manufacturing factories.

Mobile/Autonomous Robots

These robots navigate and perform their chores and duties without the intervention of human. They have been created to have high intelligence to deal with any environments such as on land, sky and even underwater. These robots are normally wheeled, or with wings, propeller and etc, depending on their uses. Aerial mobile robots are referred to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which have been used by countries with advanced technologies for military purposes. For underwater mobile robots, they are usually called Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and are used in sea exploration, military and commercial purposes.


Androids, which can also being called as Humanoid Robots, are being built to mimic human. They will have basic structures of human including head, body, hands and legs. Some of them have been installed with devices to produce sound or talk like human.

2.2 Why do they exist?

As we all know, human’s abilities are limited. Thus, we need something to fulfil our incompleteness and we have chosen the robots to do that for us. This can be clearly described when we use robots to carry and move heavy objects in our daily life.

Land mine detectorOr, in the condition that risky jobs involve which may sacrifice the priceless life of human being, it will be wise to use robots as to replace the jobs for us to avoid any unnecessary sacrificing. Exploration for mines, space and underwater are example of highly dangerous tasks and these places are almost impossible for human to access. Sacrificing robots which can be valued in money is a much more intelligent act instead of sending the human’s priceless souls to the path of death. In addition, assistance from robot’s arms for handling hazardous and acidic chemicals can also be widely used in laboratories to take the place of human’s arms.

Autonomous robot cleanerAnother main reason for the existence of robots is because of the demand of human to enjoy ease and comfort in their life. Everyone in this world is demanding to live in the best and easiest way in their life, without the need to do anything and waits to be served, in another words, the laziness of human beings caused the existence of robots. Example, there are robots being invented to clean and vacuum the house. Apparently, human in the world today are so lazy until they do not wish to do the household chores by themselves. Although this statement is not fair, but yet this is one of the very true facts. For workaholics, these robots are perfect in sharing responsibilities of household chores.

2.3 How do they exist?

2.3.1 Components of Robots

For the basic layout of the generalised robots which are mostly correspond to animal, or even a human, are being made up with these components:

The “Brain”

Just as human’s brain, it is the main system that operates a robot. It is a microprocessor which functions like a computer. Specialised programs are installed so that they can move without the controls of human.

The “Eyes”

There are made up from camera, sensor, ranging sonar and etc. There are used for navigating the robots’ movement, capture and recording the images of its surrounding, and estimate the range of its movement towards any objects or destination. There are also sensors that can help the robots to avoid from obstacles while moving.

The “Ears”

Some robots have been invented with sound recognition features. So, these robots require “ears”. Basically, the ears of these robots are also made up from sensors to detect sound waves and they are to be sent to microprocessor for detailed analysis.

Communication System

Communication between robots and human are greatly important. Besides receiving commands and orders from their owner, it is also generally important for the robots to “tell” their owners when something goes wrong. These communication systems can be in form of sound alarms or lights to grab the attentions of their owners. In order to transmit the sound or light, they need components like data, video or sound transmitters.


It is the main component for the robots to move their limbs and carry out tasks. The limbs are commonly operated by electricity. In this case, the electricity functions as the muscles. However, some robots have been designed and created to do heavy duties like carrying heavy objects. Thus, electricity will be substituted with hydraulic technology or pneumatic technology.


They can be as usual as human’s hands and legs, fingers and toes. But in some situations, hands and legs are not that suitable to be used. Hence, the limbs of these robots are also available in wheels, tires, track rollers, propellers and etc.

2.3.2 Technologies Involved Sensor Technologies

A sensor is a device, which is use to senses the objects and the surrounding. There are many kinds of applications for sensors which most people are never aware. Applications include cars, machines, aerospace, medicine, manufacturing and robotics.

Sensors are the sensory system for robots, are much like human’s “5 senses”: sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste. The robot’s sensors sense the environmental like touch, distance, light, sound, strain, rotation, magnetism, smell, temperature, inclination, pressure, or altitude. Then it provides the data that must be processed to provide information to allow the robot to respond. Robots are equipped with sensors so they can have an understanding of their surrounding environment and make changes in their behavior. The following are the common sensors used in robots [3]:

Rotation Sensors

They are used to measure the angle of a robotic arm, or how far a mobile robot’s wheel has turned.

Global Positioning Systems

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) receive signals from orbiting satellites that pinpoint the location of an outdoor robot on the Earth.

Laser range Finder

Laser range finders use laser beams to measure the distance to objects. They are used for obstacle detection and navigation.

Computer Vision

Computer Vision is the field of study of interpreting camera images for a variety of purposes. Cameras are very common sensors; it can be say as the eyes of robot.

Light Sensor

Sensor for measures and differentiate light levels reflected from bright and dark surfaces. It is also use as the eyes of the robot, it helps in navigating, detect bright object, tell the different between coloured objects.

Touch Sensors

The uses of touch sensors are to detect contact between the robot and external objects surround it.

Other example of sensors [4]:

  • Ultrasonic Range Sensors
  • Infrared Sensors
  • Inertia Measurement Unit
  • Accelerometers
  • Current and Voltage Sensors
  • Temperature and Humidity Sensors
  • Camera and Vision Sensors
  • Obstacle Detectors
  • Force Sensors
  • Sound detectors and etc. Hydraulic Technologies

Hydraulics is the equipment or machinery involves or is operated by a fluid that is under pressure, such as water or oil. This system used to increase the power of force to produce maximum energy required. Hydraulic systems are widely used in various industries to operate and manufacture many products. Hydraulic usually applied on machines and robotic part [5]. Pneumatic Technologies

Pneumatics technology is operated by air under pressure and it is powerful. Pneumatic means filled with air. It is quiet similar to hydraulic, the only different are it is operated by air, where as hydraulic is operated by liquid. Examples of pneumatic systems: Air compressor, electro-pneumatic action, tubular-pneumatic action, vacuum pump, compressed-air engine, air brakes, air engines, pneumatics launchers

Pneumatic robot arm operated by human. Pneumatic can have long operating lives and require very little maintenance, but it is not easily damaged by shock [6].

2.4 Uses of Robots in Various Fields

2.4.1 Medical Field

An endoscope

A laparoscopic surgery machineWhen we talk about robots performing tasks of human, we talk about future. But the use of robots in surgery is already a reality. The developments of technologies have brought various robotic devices into the medical field and these advanced robotic devices have been performing as a great assistant in a surgery room for today. With these robotic systems, the operation has become much less invasive but however, due to some disadvantages of these systems, surgeons are still cannot being replaced. Minimally invasive surgery is a broad concept including many common procedures that existed prior to the introduction of robots, such as gall bladder excisions. It refers to procedures that avoid long cuts by entering the body through a small entry [7]. However, surgeons can perform this procedure by using long handled surgery equipments and the guidance of viewing equipment such as endoscope; therefore it is not a necessary to use robots to do that. But yet, it does not mean robots are then do not categorised under minimally invasive surgery.

Robot-assisted surgery system can be divided into 3 kinds which are supervisory-controlled system, telesurgical system and shared-control system.

First, supervisory-controlled system is a system that allows the robots to perform tasks individually which will act according to the computer programme where the surgeons inputs into them earlier. Next, the telesurgical system which is also known as remote surgical requires the direct involvement of surgeons to conduct the robot’s arm rather than allowing it to perform surgery procedures by itself. Because the robot is still technically performing the procedures, so it is still considered under the subgroup of robotic surgery. The third system will be shared-control system. In this system, it requires the most involvement of surgeons. The surgeon carries out the procedure with the use of a robot that offers steady-hand manipulations of the instrument. This enables both entities to jointly perform the tasks [7]. Overall, the main difference between these 3 systems is the degree of interaction between the surgeons and the robots during the procedures. [8]

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Although the robot-surgeons can perform as a great assistant in surgery rooms, however there is nothing to be one hundred percents safe, including these robots. Mechanical devices including robots have the potentials to be malfunction and contravened the concept of minimally invasive surgery, or even worse, causing harm to the patients. Hence, safety of using these equipments has been questioned. Manufacturers have endeavoured to reduce the risks of malfunctioning of robots by installing related safety features. Nevertheless, these safety measurements have caused these robots increase in cost, making them unaffordable.

Source: Table from Howe, RD, Matsuoka, Y. “Robotics for Surgery.” Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering. 1999, 01:213.

The following table shows and compares the strength and limitation of using human-surgeon and robot-surgeon:

2.4.2 Military Field

The military does not usually use the term “robot”, but they categorise and name the robots into Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), depending on the environment they operated. Using of these robots in the war field can always being seen by technology-advanced countries, especially United State. Instead of sending their armies to combat in the war, they dispatch robots with weapon-equipped to the field. Even though they claimed that with this it can reduce the sacrificing of their armies but in fact, they are creating a larger offense towards their so-called “enemy” which may also cause more injuries to the innocents during the war. Yet in this decade, with the rapid increasing in research and development, scientists and researchers have manufactured robots that do not fight but to safe the people and also recovering the situation to a safety level.

Let us discuss these military robots according to their categories.

TALON SWORDS with different weaponriesUnmanned Ground Vehicles [9], or UGVs, are vehicles that require the needs of human to operate through remote-controlled system via a wireless communication link. UGVs are commonly telepresence robots which they are able to send feedback of images captured by video cameras which have been installed, to the operator. There are also robots equipped with weapon, and the most popular of its kind is TALON. According to Foster Miller [10], TALON is now a military robot that has most advanced technologies installed in it which it can moves through sand, water, snow and even staircases. With the cameras installed, it can transmit images in colours, black and white, infrared and night vision to the operator who is far away for up to 1km. SWORDS [11] or Special Weapon Observation Reconnaissance Detection System is a system where robots are granted with weapons and it was specially designed for the US armies. These robots were ever used by US Special Forces in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as the role to dispose explosive mines. Besides, there are also robots/vehicles that perform autonomously. Autonomous UGVs basically do not

BEAR Rescue Military Robot

involve in combat, but they carried out tasks like logistics, supplying of materials to the war fields, rescue operation, fire fighting, mine detection and disposal and etc. Rescue operation has been carried out by robots in an active battlefield to take care of the casualties and if necessitate, carry the casualties out from the field. The BEAR rescue military robots [12] have been designed with powerful upper body with hydraulics technology, track rollers as “legs” and dynamic balancing behaviour.

UAVs with Hellfire-Missiles

Next, robots that navigate in the sky without intervention human crews are called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [13], or UAVs, but can be partially operated through remote or in this decade; they have been invented to be fully autonomous through pre-programming flight plans. UAVs are available in various shapes, features, characteristics and configurations. They have been widely used in a lot of countries to play a role in battlefields, logistic (cargo), research and development, civil and commercial. For most of the time, they have been a great assistant for the soldier troops to provide battlefield intelligence and bombard the targeted area. Military UAVs have been installed with various weapon including missiles and bombs. The US Army has been using this feature during their conquering in the war [14] with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq. In between, error targeting and faulty intelligence caused numbers of innocent civilian to dead.

Due to large size of common UAVs, tiny spy robots – Robot Flies [12] have been created so to access into confined and cluttered spaces within the buildings, tunnels, stairwells or caves for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes. It is stated that there are also possibilities to equip these robots with small explosive charges to destroy on a small specific area instead of destroying the whole.

Robot Fly

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)Subsequently, the underwater robots – AUVs, in full Autonomous Underwater Vehicles are also known as Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs). AUVs are basically works within the sea without any intervention of human. Whereas the non-autonomous called Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are controlled by the operator from the surface through umbilical. In military field, AUVs are used to detect if there are any mines and to monitor the protected area for new unidentified objects. For the purpose of warfare, AUVs are employed to detect and resist the invasion of manned submarines [15]. From the research, AUVs are not so popular to be employed into the military fields as wars under the water are so seldom to be seen.

2.4.3 Industrial Field

Robots employed in industrial field are static robots which are majorly automated and allowed to make decision via pre-programmed inputs. These robots are more common to be seen in form of arm-shaped. They will not have the components of head, body and legs, but just arm. In earlier decades, man’s responsibilities in manufacturing process like welding, painting, assembly, pick and place, packaging and palletizing, product inspection, and testing have been displaced by robots today. The introduction of robots into industrial field is a great contribution as they can accomplish their tasks in a faster way, more efficient and highly better than a man can do in term of precision and endurance. The different between each arms and the functioning role of the arms are depending on the tools that are fixed at the end of the arm, or they call them the end-effectors. Industrial robots can also being classified into [16]:

Vertically Articulated

The multi-jointed arm of a vertically articulated robot is connected to the base with a twisting joint. The links in the arm are connected by rotary joints. This type is often called jointed-arm. [16]

Cartesian Coordinate

This robot is limited to x, y, and z movement. It is also called a rectilinear robot. All of the robot arm links are connected with linear joints. The physical appearance is square [16].


The Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm is ideal for precision work within one plane. Its work envelope is cylindrical. It has two horizontal joints [16].


The robot has one rotary joint at the base and two linear joints to connect the links. Their work envelope is also cylindrical [16].


The arm is connected to the base with a twisting joint and a combination of rotary and linear joints. They have a spherical-shaped from outside look [16].


This robot configuration combines a rotational joint and parallelograms. Delta robots work within a dome-shaped work envelope [16].

Welding arm

Welding devices such as MIG-welding gun are one of the popular robot guns that are widely used in the industry to assembly their products. Welding arms are programmed to carry out specific task – welding process repeatedly, fusing of adjacent parts together with uniform quality at a rapid speed.

Robot Spray ArmThe next tool will be the Spray Gun. As we know, Spraying evenly on the surface is never an easy job for human. Hence, it is also popular to apply the spray gun into robot arms to do spraying for human. Besides to achieve nearly perfect quality or spraying, they also help to relieve the human from this hazardous and skilful job. Liquid used in the spray contained various unknown chemicals that might cause harm to human. At the same time, spray gun will not waste paints hence reducing the cost.

Robot arm that can lift up heavy objects. Picture showing a man carried by robot arm.Picking, lifting and placing applications can be done through installing grippers. Materials used in industries are normally big and heavy. Besides of using electro-mechanical technologies, hydraulic and pneumatic technologies that produce multiply forces can be applied to the arm. Picking up of some objects haven been done by vacuum. To make sure the positioning of these devices are constant and accurate, location sensors have been installed as well [17].

2.4.5 Space Exploration Field

When it comes to space exploration, by automatically we know that robots have been contributing a lot, or accomplishing most of the space exploration tasks. The only planet that human has set foot on, besides Earth is the Moon. However, our tremendous robots have set their feet in planets like Mars, Venus, Jupiter and including few comets and asteroids [18]. Without them, human will not be able to know how the other planets look like and of course, without them human will never know that aliens do not appear in the planets within Solar System. We would not conclude that aliens do not appear in our real life because there are no researches stating that robots have been successfully sent out and explored the whole Universe and so, we never know what is going on outside our “Universe”. Robots have been used widely in this field because of the not-habitable environment for human beings. Eliminate the matter of oxygen; human are not able to cope with the different pressure and gravitational force on the other planets. Therefore costly astronaut suits have been created and in fact they are already being created, and this will never be an intelligence act. There are also risks involved when sending human to the planets and back to the Earth. Several cases happened in the past where explosions of space shuttle caused death to human.

Logo of NASAIt is common when people talk about space exploring, they will think of NASA [19], in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an agency that has been established on July 29, 1958. Before the establishment of NASA, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) is also an agency which is responsible for every space programs in United States. NASA has led the human nation towards the knowledge of space, after launching Apollo to the Moon, and then invented and released the space station, Skylab and later the Space Shuttle.

The historical moment when Neil Armstrong represented his nation to be the first man to step on the Moon.Apollo program is one of the world’s most amazing events in the history that it was the first program that brought human to the Moon and back to the land safely. Apollo 1 caused a tragedy that kills all the astronauts who were inside due to a fire during experimental simulation. Thus, several experiments and observations had carried out before they boarded the human and sent them to the Moon. At last Apollo 11 had successfully landed the first men on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin [20].

Skylab was the first space station that had been launched to the orbit by United States in 1973. In the space station there are laboratories prepared for the researchers to carry out scientific experiments and studies such as the Sun, space flight, metallic-crystal growth, microgravity, and solar observatory. But in few years time, Skylab fell from the orbit on 11 July 1979. Currently Skylab have been replaced and named as International Space Station (ISS) [21].

The famous robots in space with no doubt have to be the series of Orbiters, Rovers and Landers that have been sent to Mars in the previous years. The first orbiter which was sent to Mars on July 14, 1965 is Mariner 4. Launching of Mariner 4 has been a great achievement as it enables the human to have a closer relation on the other planets after

Great amount of water required to cause the erosion shown. Picture taken by Viking 1 on Mars.it sent back the photos of Mars. In the series of Landers, 2 Viking Landers, Viking 1 and Viking 2 had been released to Mars in the year 1976 with the accompaniment of orbiters that send back photos and scientific data. Life detection application was installed to the landers to detect life on Mars but however, the result sent back an unclear data. From the newest research by NASA, they found that the Mars is covered with large amount of gas called Methane, which is also one of the main components found in the Earth. Methane gas in the Earth is largely produced by organism when digesting of nutrients. However, it can also being released to the air through geological processes. Thus, it is still unclear whether if there are organisms survive under the permafrost layer of Mars [22]. There are other more advance robots that have been sent for planetary exploration. These include Sojourner and Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs). The 2 robots mentioned are tele-operated which they required human’s control. However, MERs have been a better robot due to larger mechanical size and also equipped with better communication and instrumentation than Sojourner. Sojourner was sent to Mars in 1997 and MERs is in 2004 [24].

However, in such numbers of space robots, Sputnik 1 has been the very first robot that was sent to the space. Mariner 2 by U.S. was the first robot that flown to Venus on 12 December 1962. In the same year, a Russian space robot, Venera 7 was the first human-made vehicle to successfully land on another planet and transmits data back to Earth.

Voyager 1There was a mission, the Voyager mission, sent robot and explore the world outside of our Solar System. Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977. Voyager 1 as in June 19, 2009, was at a distance about 16.49 billion kilometres away from the Sun, currently the furthest man-made object in the space [24].

In these decades, there are numerous missions that have been set and hopefully soon or later, robots can help to accomplish these missions.

2.5 Side Effects of Robots

The side effect of robots is mean that the negative issues or disadvantages which robots will bring to our world if there are over used or over populated. Although robots is create to assist us human to improve our life, but they may bring harm to us as well if we do not use them wisely.

From the research we made, there are some disadvantages of robotic system and robots, when normal people to operate the robots, the functions are limited and only the creator or programmers what those functions are. Although robots is been programmed, but they may not function properly in case of an emergency or unexpected occasion. The cost for built the robots and robotic systems are very high, this make it needs to have full consideration before built it. Besides, it may need to have more extra funds and spaces to provide the facilities to build the robots.

There are some moral issues occur if the robotic systems and robots have over used. The too much using of robots and robotic systems in our society making us human beings become more dependent upon robot. Because of this, many people will always depend on robots to done their works (this could be possibly happen like in the movie “Surrogates”, where the human just stay in their home and control their look alike robot to works). The advance use of robots and robotic systems may replace the human labour and causing people to lose their jobs and facing economic matter.

In medical field, if the robotic systems and robots have taking over majority of the doctor’s job for example, certain surgeries, this may cause certain people may not be able to access the services due to lack of funds. This may also happen in some other fields, this can be describe in military field, because robots are more advance therefore, which country that are rich and own many military robotics system and robots will be the most powerful country. These mean that, if we do not want this negative effect to be happening in the future, we should wisely use the robots and balance the functi


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