What is Robotics?


Robotics refers to the design and application of robots, which are automated machines that accomplish a range of tasks. The first robots were integrated into factory assembly lines in order to streamline and increase the productivity of manufacturing, most notably for cars. Today, the integration of robots into mining, the military, and transportation has helped improved operations for industries by taking over tasks that are unsafe or tedious for humans. It is expected that the global robot population will double to four million by 2020, a shift that is expected to shape business models and economies all over the world. There is a substantial debate on how workers will continue to be affected by the global economy’s growing dependence on robots, especially now that robots are more autonomous, safer, and cheaper than ever. While robotics is at least four years away from being in mainstream use in educational settings, its potential uses are starting to gain traction. Robotics programs are focusing on outreach efforts that promote robotics and programming as multi-disciplinary STEM learning that can make students better problem solvers for the 21st century. It is also clear that some students with spectrum disorders are more comfortable working with robots to develop better social, verbal, and non-verbal skills.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • Is robotics in academic libraries or higher education really that far off - well - maybe yes for "mainstream" integration. But we already have academic libraries using robotics in the Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) that have been built into 20-25 academic libraries with more coming on board in the next few years. This is hardly the application of robotics for education, but where robotics is likely to initially be relevant is with doing basic repetitive tasks. That might mean we'll see more applications of robotics for book handling, book processing and maintenance of the physical space. These applications may have significant impact on how people use libraries. Already there are concerns that ASRS implementations are having a negative affect on browsing and serendipitous discovery. I think as we see mobile robots capable of picking books off of shelves, robots programmed to take a simple command (where are the books on biology) and lead people to stacks locations, etc., they can replace some of the simpler tasks people now perform so that the library staff can perform higher order work.- bells bells Oct 31, 2016 - mylee.joseph mylee.joseph Nov 8, 2016
  • The technology might have effects on all customer services and logistics as well. - franziska.regner franziska.regner Nov 2, 2016 - andreas.kirstein andreas.kirstein Nov 11, 2016 - Sandy.hirsh Sandy.hirsh Nov 13, 2016
  • Moreover, the technology might be implemented (on an experimental level) in libraries to allow debate and reflection on the future of work (in libraries and elsewhere) - franziska.regner franziska.regner Nov 2, 2016 - andreas.kirstein andreas.kirstein Nov 11, 2016
  • - liusq liusq Nov 12, 2016I agree with bells' point strongly, robotics could do some basic repetitive tasks such as book picking and shelving,etc. We are planing to build a new library these couple of years, and we will use Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) .

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I mentioned the ASRS theme, but another theme is accessibility. I believe we will see robots specifically design to help disable students to have a better learning experience and improve their interaction with the library environment- bells bells Oct 31, 2016
  • add your response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • As is the case with any application of robotics I think the impact will be that simple, repetive jobs will be more easily performed by robots. In the short-tem this may help academic libraries to get these tasks performed more quickly or efficiently (e.g., eliminate human error). The ASRS certainly is and will have an impact in that it really allows for dramatic change to the library space (more people space) and in how people will interact with collections (they will typically request and look at fewer books). Looking more long-term, if we get to the point where robots acquire artificial intelligence, we may see robots at the reference desk, perhaps doing triage, giving directions, referring students to librarians, etc.- bells bells Oct 31, 2016
  • The technology might be implemented (on an experimental level) in libraries to allow debate and reflection on the future of work (in libraries and elsewhere) - franziska.regner franziska.regner Nov 2, 2016 Agree [- frank.scholze frank.scholze Nov 4, 2016]
  • The technology might be used for cooperative projects of libraries with researchers and students. - franziska.regner franziska.regner Nov 2, 2016 - andreas.kirstein andreas.kirstein Nov 11, 2016
  • It would be interesting to see robotics applied to the set up / pack down of flexible learning spaces, automatically reconfiguring space between classes to suit various requirements and relieving the human risks associated with manual handling. - mylee.joseph mylee.joseph Nov 8, 2016
  • - liusq liusq Nov 12, 2016The human resources is decreasing dramatically, robotics applications will be used widely.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?