Effective decontamination and sterilization of hospital wards and bathrooms is essential in reducing the risk of cross infection. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we consider that there are just 20 critical care beds per 100,000 people in the US. Here, we explore the vital role robotics play in sterilization and what to consider when choosing a power supply.
Robots for military, medical, surveillance and logistics purposes are all assisting humans by undertaking dangerous or monotonous tasks but can still have very different power needs, based on the legislations they are subject to and their reliance on battery power. Here we examine the vital functionalities of bomb disposal robots, drones, surgical robotics and logistics robots that can influence the power solutions they require.
For over 130 years, engineers have sought to assist those who struggle with walking through the use of wearable mobile machines called exoskeletons. Many and varied power sources have been trialled for these machines over time, from compressed gas bags to steam power. So, what led to batteries being selected as the modern-day power source of choice and will they still be relied upon in the future?
When the word “robot” is mentioned, most people conjure up images of bulky, flashing, tinfoil-covered machines from old sci-fi, like Lost in Space or Dr Who. Back then, little more than a man in a suit, metallic spray-paint and a ring-modulated audio track was enough to create a robotic superstar, but today’s world is filled with genuine robotic celebrities.
If there is one form of robotics where safety is of paramount importance, it would be in the medical or surgical sectors. Batteries have played a vital role in allowing surgical robots to become accepted by medical professionals and patients alike. To understand the impact that batteries have had on surgical robots and, perhaps more importantly, the impact they could have in the future, it is useful to go back to the beginning.
Computer and medical carts are increasingly used to reduce the need for paperwork in hospitals, warehouses, schools and more. This has resulted in many different types of cart. In hospitals and clinics alone, there are Emergency Carts, Anaesthesia Carts, Procedure Carts, Mobile Computing Carts, Medication Carts and more.
However, the main issue restricting their use is lack of space inside a facility or fixed equipment causing an obstruction (a survey conducted by Ergotron and HIMSS Analytics revealed).
Stemming from this, developments in battery technology are paving the way for smaller computer and medical carts.
2018 was another year of advancements in the field of robotics, including in the sectors for which Ultralife Corporation manufacture batteries (such as drones, bomb disposal, surgical and logistics). Focusing on those four sectors, we look back at the main robotics developments over the past year and predict the drones and robots we are likely to see emerge in 2019, before discussing whether new batteries will be needed to power them.
Retail giants like Amazon are making headlines with their attempts to improve logistics operations with the use of drones. Yet original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should not forget the need for logistics assistance on the ground. Although the expense and labor involved with utilizing automated guided vehicles (AGVs) may have previously deterred many organisations from adopting this technology; developments in the field look set to increase demand.
In 2017, US research institute SRI International unveiled its Taurus robot, a bomb disposal robot that allowed operators to control it using a virtual reality headset. This is just the latest in a long line of technology developments for bomb disposal units.
Today’s battery powered robots have come a long way since William Grey Walter’s first autonomous invention in 1948. Technology has evolved to the point that humans are now not afraid to have robots work alongside them on the factory floor (co-bots).