The robotics industry is thriving and we’re seeing new applications of robots or robotics technology across sectors throughout the world. Some of these sectors are using robotics for the first time, but others have been using it for a while.
Take the healthcare industry, for example. Robotics have been used here for special applications such as surgeries over the last few years.
But, as technology develops, what are some of the potential future uses we could see in the coming years or decades?
Some of the following ideas are purely theoretical right now, but there’s no reason the technology won’t be there to see them in the future!
Robotic Health Assistants
It’s absolutely no secret that the healthcare industry constantly faces a staffing shortage. There is a huge demand for healthcare workers, but not enough people to fill these roles. As a consequence, waiting times increase and the cost of healthcare for the consumer starts rising.
Could robots be a solution to this issue?
The idea of robotic health assistants is fairly new and probably won’t be around for a good few years – or maybe even decades.
But, imagine a world where robots are able to consult patients and ask about their symptoms. Or, they’re able to perform simple tasks like changing chamber pots or switching out IVs.
It fills a gap in the staffing shortage crisis but can also provide more benefits. Look at addiction recovery centers that provide long-term residential treatment for individuals with chronic addictions.
In the future, robots could provide a lot of assistance by bringing medication to patients or helping with certain therapies. The benefit here – and in other applications – is that human health assistants are put at risk of violent behaviors from patients.
When you have volatile patients, nurses and other assistants can be grabbed or hit, causing physical and mental harm. Sending robotic assistants in for these tasks can clamp down on the number of incidents in an institution.
Alongside this, robot health assistance could help to speed things up and reduce waiting times. Thus, the overall quality of care can improve throughout different healthcare organizations.
AI-Powered Robotic Surgeries
We mentioned that robotics has been used in surgeries for some time now. However, as this technology gets even better – and with the AI boom in full flow – we will see more and more uses of robotics in the surgical domain.
Fundamentally, robot arms or applications can be used to conduct surgeries with more accuracy and efficacy. Think about it, the human arm is only capable of so much.
During the heat of surgery, even the best surgeons may shake slightly when trying to make specific incisions or remove tiny things from a cavity.
Programming a robot to do the task can mean way more accuracy, which reduces the chances of things going wrong, boosting the efficacy rate of complex surgical procedures.
In theory, it’ll mean more surgeries can be completed every day, which attacks long waiting lists and trims them down.
Moreover, it may increase the survival rate of some diseases because we’re able to remove things or perform surgical procedures we couldn’t do before.
Until this point, the potential use case for robotics in healthcare revolves around helping people perform certain tasks. Whether it’s in social settings or during procedures, robots can be useful assistants in many ways.
Still, there are other uses that extend beyond this, such as in the realm of prosthetics. The last few decades have already led us to the point where prosthetics have evolved from simple plastic stubs with hooks on the end to highly functional limbs powered by robotics.
As the video below shows, we now have bionic hands that can clasp or pinch things, almost mimicking the functions of real hands/limbs.
As we see this technology progress even further, it’s highly possible to see robotic prosthetics become even more realistic.
Imagine a future where losing a limb is no longer a debilitating thing. You can use a robotic prosthetic and regain full functionality, using it like a normal arm.
The interesting thing about this is that it dips into the realm of bionic or robotic modifications. Will we start seeing people choose to “upgrade” themselves with robotic prosthetics in the future? What if you could have some new legs that made you taller or faster?
This is where we step into slightly murky ethical waters – for now, and for the foreseeable future, robotic prosthetics are definitely geared towards improving the lives of people that have lost the function of certain limbs.
AI-Enhanced Medical Imaging
This is something we touched upon in a previous article looking at the rise of robots in healthcare. We briefly mentioned the future in that post, and the main thing we spoke about was AI-enhanced medical imaging.
Using the power of robotics and artificial intelligence, we can see a world where X-rays and scans are more detailed than ever before. Things are clearer, making it easier for doctors and specialists to make accurate diagnoses.
You could even incorporate AR or VR to bring images to life, giving doctors full 3D views of the human body or the scanned area. They can see deeper into the tissue or spot problems with more clarity.
This could create a world where severe medical conditions are found way earlier than ever before. You could potentially spot cancer from the earliest possible point thanks to enhanced imaging, meaning treatment can start quicker and the survival rate may go up.
When you take a step back and survey these possible use cases for robotics in healthcare, it paints a very exciting picture.
The medical landscape may be about to change for the better, leading to improvements in general care for patients and possibly speeding things along to reduce waiting times.
Of course, only time will tell if these ideas come to pass – but it’s still something to get excited about.