Will Robots Take Your Job? SwRI Expert Talks About the Future

Mr. Robot is coming, but the good news is, he is not coming for your job.

Matt Robinson, who is the program manager of the robotics program at Southwest Research Institute, told the San Antonio Manufacturers Association that robots will actually allow you to do your job better, safer, and more efficiently.

But he says the uncertainty we have about robotics in the work place is not surprising.

"I think a lot of times we have talked about advancing technology and there is a lot of the unknown that comes with that," Robinson said.  "So in the context of what we don't know there is sometimes trepidation and fear, and that is normal."

Robinson told the group that robotics have become commonplace over the last several decades, especially performing repetitive work in manufacturing.  He says what is happening now that is changing the game is new technologies, like we see in, for example, Amazon's Alexa, that allow robots to draw on a tech database to become intuitive, to actually appear to 'think.'

"What we are seeing now as far as advances in automation, is the idea of being easier to use, and being able to be adopted by smaller companies, as well as their ability to learn more things, and be able to do different things more efficiently."

He says there are three areas where we can expect robotics to become almost commonplace in the next few years.

"Home health care for people who want to stay in their homes later in life," he said, referring to the fast growing number of aging Baby Boomers.  "Enabling that is a very compelling use case.  Improving the quality of life for older people in home health care, while easing the burden on the health care industry overall."

He says another area where experimental robots are already starting to make a difference is in fast food preparation.  The third place where Robinson expects robots will become commonplace is in agriculture, both in the planting and harvesting of crops, but also in the preparation of food.

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