By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association
When America celebrates Independence Day on July 4, the country can take great pride that an American (and ex-Navy man) developed and installed the first industrial robot which paved the way for the freedom of workers from dangerous places. In July, as revelers spark off fireworks to celebrate freedom, they can take comfort in the knowledge that bomb disposal robots are working in the background to keep the public safe from bad endings with explosive devices.
Robots have one primary job: keep people safe. It started in 1962 when General Motors installed its first robot. At the time, people were expected to work in notoriously hot and dangerous environments where all too often the air was thick with contaminants. Lives and limbs were sacrificed in the name of manufacturing progress. The “Father of Robotics,” Joseph Engelberger wanted to change that.
His first commercially installed robot worked in the hot, miserable environment of a die casting operation at GM. Eventually, robots made it over to welding work cells and into paint booths and many other places not kind to worker health. This is what robots are built for: to serve as mechanical substitutes where the job is dirty, dangerous and just plain drudgery with no relief.
Some four decades after hitting the factory floor, robots are in cities across the nation working side-by-side with first responders. Like mules, they are beasts of burden, but unlike their equestrian counterparts, they have no feelings to hurt; no pain to feel; no mind at all. They are quite versatile and useful, but if one gets blown apart in the course of its duties . . . well, that’s no skin off its operator.
You’ll see robots in hospitals, labs, schools and many other non-industrial places. In every instance, human safety will be enhanced. And in DuPage, Illinois (near Chicago), a robot is on call for the next time the sheriff’s department responds to a suspicious package (maybe even illegal fireworks). Americans (and people all over the world) can celebrate the fact robots can free first responders from life threatening situations.