Anyone who has seen the movie “WALL-E” can imagine a world where computers and robots do just about all of the hard work, while humans essentially sit back and relax. While we’re not likely to reach that status at any point in our lifetimes, there’s no denying that robotics are changing the way a number of industries operate.
Image source Pixabay
For now, robots are not causing a huge rush to the unemployment office. However, improvements in technology are leading to positive disruption across multiple industries. Here is a quick look at six.
When it comes to using robots for manufacturing, the auto industry is at the forefront. In fact, of all robots used in factories, about half are in auto production. The advantages are obvious. Robots can lift heavier objects than humans can, making production more efficient.
Also, while manufacturing jobs have decreased as the number of robots used has skyrocketed, studies indicate workers actually benefit from working alongside robots. In fact, there is evidence that there is essentially no relationship between the decrease in manufacturing employment and robot use.
Financial services may not be the first industry you think of when it comes to robotics, but this sector is definitely on board. That said, financial companies don’t use robotics in the same way that auto manufacturers do with huge machines performing physical labor. In this industry, it’s more about performing a high volume of tasks using computer applications.
Financial companies use such automation for tasks such as recording journal entries, maintaining accounting data, managing vendor invoices and automatically reviewing account openings and paper statements.
While this type of automation might replace humans when it comes to these mundane tasks, robotics will actually make human employees more valuable. That’s because they will become more productive and effective, increasing their value to the industry.
According to a recent survey, 59 percent of manufacturers are using some sort of robotics technology. It makes sense, considering the technological advances in recent years. Robots can now take on more and more “human” tasks, such as packaging, inspecting and testing products, and assembling tiny components.
Another benefit of using robots in manufacturing is they make the workplace safer by performing advanced processes that would put a person at risk. They can also do some things that humans physically cannot.
On the surface, healthcare seems like a solely human-based industry. After all, we’re talking about the health of human beings. But robots have a wide variety of applications in the healthcare field.
For example, hospitals can use roving robots with video conferencing technology that allow doctors to consult with patients even if they’re not on site. There are also robotic surgical assistants that allow doctors to perform basic surgeries from a remote location.
In general, robots are not likely to eliminate jobs within the healthcare field because humans are still needed for them to function. On the flip side, they can make the industry more efficient, allowing doctors to help a higher volume of patients.
In recent years robots have not impacted the agriculture industry as much as others, but it appears that may soon change. Technology is now advancing far enough to make implementing them into the real world more practical.
The industry already uses 3D imaging to make crop production much more efficient. In coming years, robots will also be used to harvest various crops. One potential slowdown, however, is that different crops use different methods for harvesting. That means the technology used for harvesting could be very different for, say, lettuce as opposed to broccoli.
We know that drones are already an increasingly key part of the military and defense industry. Robots are also used on the manufacturing end of things, similar to the auto industry.
In recent years, however, robots have been tested to perform tasks that can be difficult for human soldiers, such as taking off from and landing on an aircraft carrier. In-air refueling is another task that’s under testing.
We’re still not close to a world where battlefields are filled with robots a la “Terminator,” but like many other industries, robots are helping military and defense become more efficient.
Robots and Humans Unite
For the time being, robots are not generally used to replace human employees. Sure, some perform tasks that humans can’t, but most are still controlled by humans and make said employees more productive.
If and when we get to a point when robots can “learn” from experience on their own, they may make humans in some fields replaceable. But until that happens, it’s a good bet that most jobs in your industry are safe.
By Megan Nichols