Robots to help people – Teacher’s newspaper

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Although robotics can be called a rapidly developing industry, today, at the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, we still do not see the widespread use of robots. But the science fiction of the last century presented robotic reality as one of the highest achievements of the future! And the main goal of robotization should be human comfort. True, today there are already a number of breakthrough inventions to improve the quality of life of people.

In ten years, the line between science fiction and reality will be minimal

Probably, all of us have repeatedly encountered the fact that we cannot find some things even within the same room. The reason is chaos and blockages. We know approximately where this object may be, but we are not able to detect it among numerous other things. It may take several hours to disassemble them, which we simply do not have. That’s when a robotic device developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will come to the rescue.

The MIT robot builds a 3D model of its surroundings by scanning it with built-in cameras. The robot then turns on the radio wave analysis function. Due to the fact that radio waves can pass through many solid objects, even objects at the very bottom of the pile are accessible to the device. Next, the algorithm analyzes the received data and calculates the most probable search area. To find something specific, it is necessary to put specific characteristics of the object into the program.

But even after the robot has presented everything to you on a silver platter, there is absolutely no need to rummage through a pile of junk on your own. The device is equipped with a robotic hand with fingers to grab the right items, and it will simply pull the thing out of the pile on command.

Another know-how is the so-called robotic microroy for brushing teeth. This technology was developed by a team of specialists from the University of Pennsylvania.

Microrobots are made up of iron oxide nanoparticles, which have the properties of catalytic and magnetic activity. Due to this, they can be transformed into various configurations, performing, as necessary, the functions of either a toothbrush, or dental floss, or a mouthwash. But in each case, a catalysis reaction will occur, which will kill harmful microorganisms in the oral cavity on the spot.

The first experiments were carried out on a small plate of jagged material. At the next stage, artificial models were used, printed on a 3D printer based on scans of real human teeth made in a dental clinic. Finally, the tests were carried out on real teeth, which, although not in the human mouth, were installed in such a way as to mimic the position of the teeth in the oral cavity.

In all cases, it turned out that the system of microrobots is able to effectively eliminate biofilms on teeth and gums, cleaning them from pathogenic microorganisms. The invention will be especially useful for elderly or disabled patients who find it difficult to brush their own teeth. But the robot models developed by a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota face a slightly different challenge. They are designed to help people with physical, emotional and cognitive impairments. Today, they are already being used in one of the state’s nursing homes to care for patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

The first two-foot-tall robot is called NAO, and the second, four-foot-tall, is called Pepper. Of course, robots can’t replace human beings, but they can complement them, says Arshia Khan, head of the design team, professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota and fellow at the Swenson College of Science and Engineering in Duluth. In her laboratory, there are already 25 models of such assistant robots.

“They are more for learning and emotional support,” Professor Khan told “They try to make their patients feel better by telling jokes and stories. The robot can dance, sing, play music and interact. For fun, the robot can host a bingo session. This is an important step in the process of improving the quality of life of older people.”

In addition, according to Khan, robots can help with what is called memory therapy. It is believed that in order to restore forgotten events, it is useful to surround a person with people and objects related to these events. Nursing homes have this practice. But these are very labor intensive activities. They must be attended by close residents of the institution, but not everyone has them. And not all relatives have the opportunity to come here and do this. “We can make the robot show images, videos and play music from that time, and in this way remind them of this particular event,” Khan said.

But why are there difficulties in putting electronic human assistants on stream? First of all, all manufacturers admit that this is the price of the issue. In production, such complex devices are still very, very expensive. And the smarter they are, the more expensive it is. Moreover, in many cases, fine individual tuning is required for robots. In addition, since the robots will have to interact closely with a person, it will be necessary to eliminate the danger factor or “misunderstanding” that such a device endowed with “brains” can present to its user.

While these problems are likely to be resolved in the coming years, in all likelihood, we will have to wait another ten years before robots appear in every home and office and become a common reality, as happened with telephones or televisions.


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