• Question: What do the robots do, do they operate on people?

    Asked by Jessica207 on 7 May 2020.
    • Photo: Anna Zakrzewska

      Anna Zakrzewska answered on 7 May 2020: last edited 7 May 2020 12:29 pm

      It’s amazing how robotics comes to our lives! Robots can do plenty of things, that we teach and program them to! From doing repetitive tasks in a production line, through walking around Mars and collecting samples, helping in medicine or finally cutting the grass and vacuuming at home.
      There are robotic arms that can be used for a remote surgery. It’s also less invasive, as the tools are tiny. Have a look here:
      These robots are not autonomous, they require a knowledgeable surgeon. A big training centre for surgeons is in Belgium:
      I visited it last year for a special tour, very impressive!

    • Photo: Aruna Chandrasekar

      Aruna Chandrasekar answered on 7 May 2020:

      Robots can be of different types. They could be used in industrial processes, to perform repetitive tasks. As of now this is the most common type of robot.

      Other robots could be computer-based, i.e., used in customer assistance. Here they would be programmed to answer in a particular way for particular questions. They can recognize voice, words, and language.

      The third type of robot is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is programmed to adapt based on the amount of data they get. These are the most advanced robots as they can adapt easily to new situations. At present they are not ubiquitous due to ethical issues and fears regarding the power of AI.

      However, we hope that won’t happen anytime soon.

      Robots can only work on people if they have been programmed to. As of now their usefulness outweighs their threat.

    • Photo: Aisling Ryan

      Aisling Ryan answered on 7 May 2020:

      There are lots of different types of robots. When it comes to operations the operation is always performed by a surgeon. Depending on what the operation is, a surgeon can use different tools to make the operation as successful as possible. Sometimes the tools being used are robots, but there will always be a doctor (surgeon) that is controlling the robot. The robot will never be in control so don’t worry about that!
      Robotic surgery allows for less invasion, so having to open up a person to do the surgery can be avoided, which is safer and means less healing time and smaller scars for the patient. The surgeon controls the robot using a computer. Using a robot also means steadier hands! Have you ever played the game operation where you have to remove objects without hitting the buzzer? It’s so difficult to do because most people have pretty shaky hands! A robot doesn’t have shaky hands, so the surgeon can make all the decisions and control the robot, whilst the robot does the surgery very calmly!

    • Photo: Graham Buckley

      Graham Buckley answered on 8 May 2020:

      Robots do whatever we programme them to do. The same as a line of dominos will fall as predicted if we knock over the one at the start. The design of a robot is based on what we humans want it to be able to do. This is the robots hardware (its ‘body’) and programming (its ‘mind’). So far, there has not been a robot able to fully think for itself. If a robot where able to think for itself, would it still be a robot or another form of conscious? part of this problem is scientists still don’t really know what ‘consciousness’ or ‘thinking’ is. Some surgical robots such as the Da Vinci robot are brainless. Apart from some control systems they rely on a human operator. This particular robot is a surgical tool to allow a human operator to perform surgery more accurately. Here is a human using a Da Vinci robot to do surgery on a grape! The grape was practice for the precision of the Da Vinci robot.

    • Photo: Katherine Benson

      Katherine Benson answered on 12 May 2020:

      There are many many types of robots! We use some in the lab to help us to automate things that are really repetitive and take up a lot of time, like adding the same volume of liquid to many many tiny tubes. This frees us up to go do other jobs that robots are less good at, like solving problems and thinking about how to design our next experiment.

      There are really cool robots that can be used to help operate on people, and as these get better and better we hope that they’ll make surgery safer and more reliable.

    • Photo: Jun Lin

      Jun Lin answered on 16 May 2020:

      Robots can do different things depending on our needs. I think the most amazing use of robots is to help doctors do surgery.