NH has role in expanding use of robots
The Mikrolar RP 2000 12 axis Robot tests the KVH satellite system by violently simulating the motion of the antenna while at sea, all the while maintaining its TV signal. (COURTESY)
Four NASA engineers test Mikrolar's R3000 holding a satellite as it simulates the lack of gravity in space while a Motoman robot performs a maintenance program.courtesy
Robots are working along assembly lines at Osram Sylvania's three New Hampshire plants making light bulbs and helping children too sick to attend school to participate via mobile robots with video hookups.
8/1/14--Co-Founder Thomas Ryden gives a demonstration of his company's robot in a set used to illustrate the robot's classroom application at VGo in Nashua on Aug. 1, 2014. DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER
Some robots serve as testing grounds to improve repairs on injured satellites.
Fortier's 10-person company built three robots for NASA. "We essentially simulate the lack of gravity," he said, adding the third robot "does something I can't tell you about."
Kamen is another person working on prosthetics. With a $40 million budget and assistance from other companies, he and his team created a fully functioning prosthetic arm that some might consider bionic. (See story, Page B1)
While attending a Florida event featuring robotics companies from around the country last year, he heard people yell out their ties to FIRST.
"There's a lot of work that a doctor cannot do through our product or videoconferencing because they don't get reimbursed for that," he said.
Osram employs robots at its plants in Manchester, Hillsborough and Exeter, and they are often faster and perform more precisely than humans, according to John Tremblay, Osram's director of industrialization.
Through the decades, Hollywood has both glamorized and demonized robots, making some wonder whether robots someday will dominate or replace humans.
"I think we are certainly trending that way, but this is early on," Ryden said.
"Never," he said. "I think what science fiction is really, really good at is looking into the future in a whimsical way and imagining using today's technologies or today's perception of what technology can do and projecting it into a future application, but by the time the future gets here, we don't implement it with today's technology. We implement with the technology of the future."
But robots definitely have a role in society.
"I think robotic technology will continue to be developed to do things that humans either don't do very well or puts humans at unreasonable risk to do or are very expensive for humans to do and a robot will be able to improve the quality and reduce the cost of that function," Kamen said.
"There is no technology in the world that has enough power to do something important that's good that doesn't have the same amount of power to do something important that could be harmful, either intentionally or otherwise," Kamen said. "But the technology itself is not moral or immoral. The technology is amoral. What people decide to do with technology is always subject to, and I think there's appropriate concern, that it's always subject to what is the intent of the person. And it's unrealistic and naive to assume that we will build any advanced technology of any kind that doesn't have the potential to do harm."
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