The Army sent me to MIT in 1985 to study robotics, and I have had a passion for that technology ever since. Over the past 3 decades the technology continues to evolve at an amazing pace. The question is whether or not we as a society are taking advantage of that technology.
My passion is to use robotic technology to remove human beings from dirty, dull and dangerous tasks. From a military perspective, unmanned systems could be sent into harms way in place of the Soldier. Many dangerous tasks, like ground surveillance, route clearance, and convoy operations could all be performed by unmanned systems. If the system gets destroyed, it can be replaced. A human life cannot be replaced.
From a civilian perspective, the same thing holds true. The most pressing case is in law enforcement. Let’s develop unmanned systems that allow police officers to “send in the robot” first….before exposing themselves to potential harm. Many other commercial applications come to mine: agriculture, mining operations, people transport. All could be done by unmanned systems.
In addition, robotics can also be used to help folks with disabilities. We all remember “Rosie the Robot” from the cartoon “The Jetsons”. We could develop robots that help improve the quality of life of anyone with a disability, whether it is a elderly person, a Wounded Warrior, or individuals with severe medical conditions. They could also be developed to perform mundane tasks around the house, like dishwashing, vacuuming, and laundry.
The key is focus. We must, as a Nation, determine what are the most important tasks that we want unmanned systems to perform, and then focus our efforts to develop those particular systems. We cannot develop systems to perform every dirty, dull, or dangerous task…but we can for the most pressing. Let’s figure out what those are and drive on.