Dirty, dull and dangerous – robots relieve us of nasty tasks
Did you know what business is the pioneer of autonomous, robotic vehicles? You can find the answer in the vast Australian deserts. There you will also find a great example of robots that relieve us of dirty, dull and dangerous jobs.
In Australia, world’s largest mining operations are heavy users of robotic mining equipment. Fleets of giant-sized autonomous haul trucks transport the mineral rocks from the mines to autonomous long-distance trains. There are also robotic loaders and crushers. Human operators thousands of kilometers away only have to control the process.
Why have mining companies pioneered robotic vehicles? Because mining is capital intensive, and autonomous operations have turned out very effective in cutting costs and improving productivity.
But from the very beginning, one motivator has been to improve safety. Working in a mine is dangerous, and plenty of accidents happen. It’s also dirty and dull. Thanks to extensive sensors autonomous vehicles can avoid all obstacles, and they don’t suffer from lack of vision or lack of concentration due to exhaustion.
From sewers to nuclear waste
Of course, autonomous mining is also one showcase of robots taking jobs from human workers. This negative trend raises fears, even Luddite emotions.
But what sort of jobs are we talking about? Are those favorites humans will be sad to miss? Are humans even capable of tasks that robots will take? Is there enough people for these jobs?
Certainly, one of the most disgusting working environments are sewer tunnels, filled by urine and excrement. But there’s a rare breed of divers specialized in inspecting these stinky places. Occasionally, divers have drowned.
What if humans were released off this dirty job? Well, as a matter of fact, there’s been autonomous sewer inspection robots around for years. They are capable of roaming tunnels too small for humans. They don’t need oxygen to survive. They don’t complain about working conditions.
Do you remember Wall-e? It was the animated movie with a robot antagonist sorting waste on Earth, abandoned due to pollution. Now, real-life Wall-e robots are poised to rule the domain of recycling and handling of garbage. There are companies selling AI powered robots that sort industrial waste. They are much more effective than humans, and not harmed by handling potentially hazardous materials.
We must also consider jobs that would be right out lethal for humans. Do you remember Fukushima, the Japanese nuclear disaster site of the 2011 tsunami? Clean-up is extremely difficult, and robots are a must. But even they have had a hard time to survive high radiation. In the near future, dozens of nuclear reactors around the world will come to the end of their life-cycle. Dismantling them will most probably require robots.
More robotic bonuses
If we move away from industrial environments, robots could do jobs that are far from attractive. One such is cleaning toilets in shopping malls, airports or office buildings. Why not let robots do that? They have the bonus of not having a sex: A robot entering a lavatory wouldn’t raise eyebrows the way a male or a female cleaner does when cleaning the toilet of the opposite sex.
Let’s face it: robots will be a relief for us – much more than a threat.
Robots can handle several tasks that are risky, boring or unattractive for human workers. By investing in robotics, the quality of human jobs and quality of life can improve tremendously.
Have you got an intelligent robot for dirty, dull or dangerous work? We would love to see it in our expo next October! Please, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!