Two things were required in transforming pre-historic man into modern man. The first requirement calls for a healthy dose of curiosity. The second requirement calls for innovative thinking. It is a good thing to know that human beings were imbued with the right amount of curiosity, because it becomes the fuel that drives the desire to solve problems. People create solutions allowing them to remove or go around obstacles. In the process of solving problems, human beings started inventing things and enhancing the same with innovations. People invent and innovate without considering the unintended consequences. Technology’s double-edged sword was evident in the application of drones and robotics technology to human endeavors.
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Description of How Drone Technology Is Supposed to Work
Drone technology is an example of a cutting-edge technology. It is the end-result of combining or modifying earlier forms of scientific knowledge. Developers of the drone technology had to borrow from well-developed innovations that were perfected in the past. In other words, this type of technology is one of the best byproducts of innovative thinking. In essence, a drone is an unmanned aircraft (Hyde, 2014). For the purpose of this study, two types of drones are under scrutiny. The first category includes military drones currently utilized by the U.S. Air Force. The second category includes non-military type favored by businessmen and researchers.
As alluded to earlier, drone technology is an amalgamation of different types of technology. One of the primary components of a drone is the flight system that was borrowed from the helicopter aerodynamics. At the heart of helicopter aerodynamics is rotor technology that was invented to provide the following functions: 1) the generation of a vertical lifting force in opposition to the body’s weight; 2) the generation of a horizontal propulsive force for the purpose of forward flight; and 3) a means of generating forces for the purpose of controlling the altitude and position of the helicopter in three-dimensional space (Leishman, 2006, p.55). Unmanned aircraft with rotor technology are also known as helicopter drones.
A drone is also known as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (LaFay, 2015). Aside from helicopter drones, the second most popular version utilizes fixed-wing technology. This is the type of drone favored by the U.S. Air Force. Drones with fixed-wing design also use remote-controlled technology. In the early military version of the said UAV, the pilotless aircraft were utilized for reconnaissance purposes. However, at the turn of the 21st century, military drones became an integral part of aerial warfare. American-made UAVs captured the public’s imagination with the use of Hellfire missiles. These lethal projectiles are air-to-surface missiles that are as deadly as those equipped in attack helicopters (Casey-Maslen, 2014). However, researchers and businessmen found commercial and other practical uses for drones.
Researchers share common ground with military personnel advocating the use of drone technology. Both groups were impressed with the capability of UAVs to enter dangerous territories. In the case of researchers, drones are useful in data-gathering activities. UAVs provide a different point of view for businessmen like realtors and construction magnates. A drone equipped with state-of-the art cameras and video equipment has the capability to take pictures from angles and elevations that are only possible with the use of helicopters and airplanes.
Description of How Robotics Technology Is Supposed to Work
In a nutshell, one can define robotics technology as the effective use of sensors, actuators, computers, and mechanical devices for the purpose of creating an “intelligent connection of perception to action” (Ruckert, Werner, & Sitte, 2012). From this basic conceptual framework, designers are able to create different applications. They are able to create robotic limbs that mimic human functions and robotic machines that are able to perform complicated tasks.
America’s world-famous space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, defined robotics technology as the development of machines that are used for accomplishing specific tasks. For example, robotic arms have the capability to move heavy objects that human beings are unable to carry or move from point A to point B. Imagining a powerful computer with arms and legs is one way to visualize robotics technology. In other words, computers may have the script or instructions on how to carry out a particular job, but in the absence of robotic arms and similar mechanisms, computers are limited to tasks like information storage and retrieval. However, the addition of robotic limbs and mechanisms that mimic human movement radically alters the performance and functionality of the said computer.
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It is possible to program computers in such a way to produce “artificial intelligence” (Ruckert, Werner, & Sitte, 2012). As a result, robotics technology enables the accomplishment of specific job requirements. However, the workload and the quality of the work output differ from the typical performance of a human counterpart. The robot’s precision, work rate, and ability to withstand harsh working conditions revolutionized manufacturing processes. In an assembly line that requires perfection and repetitive work, there is no human worker that is able to compete with robotics technology.
Robots provide solutions to issues regarding the endangerment of human health, especially in work situations increasing exposure to dangerous elements (Deb & Deb, 2010). In the absence of robotics technology, factory workers were compelled to use masks, shields, and protective clothing in order to endure the rigors of the workplace (NASA, 2016). The availability of the said technology allows industrialists to develop manufacturing schemes wherein robots are replacing humans in hazardous situations. Practical applications are also made evident in rescue and exploratory missions.
Description of One Important Unintended Consequence of Drone Technology
Intruders and unscrupulous people are prevented from violating the sanctity of a person’s home through various security methods. In gated communities, sophisticated security equipment and well-trained personnel provide multiple layers of protection. As a result, residents from the said communities pay a great deal of money in order to ensure their safety. However, drones are not hindered by thick concrete obstacles or high fences. Arming drones with weapons create serious concerns in the context of safety and security of human life.
Drones with hellfire missiles have the potential of harming civilian populations. These are not devices that were installed for surveillance work. Drones carrying sophisticated weapons are controlled via satellite. Thus, there is a greater probability for human error. The proliferation of drone technology also increases the likelihood for carrying terroristic activities using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Prediction of Unintended Consequences of Robotic Technology
Robotic arms spray painting automobiles highlighted the importance of ensuring the safety of workers. As a result, human workers were assigned to less dangerous work assignments. However, durability and stress tolerance are not the only plus factors in the use of the said technology. Robotic machines are prized possessions due to the assurance of producing high quality outputs in jobs requiring precision and repetitive actions. In addition, robotic arms and robotic contraptions are not prone to sickness and human frailties (Deb & Deb, 2010). As a consequence, it makes more sense to use robots rather than hire human workers. Thus, certain job sectors may experience a high unemployment rate.
The sky’s the limit for this type of technology and so are the negative consequences of imprudent applications. In the near future, robots with greater autonomy may pose significant threats to the environment. Imagine the impact of a robot designed for quarrying purposes. Imagine the environmental impact of an unmanned robotic fishing vessel. It is not practical for unscrupulous businessmen to have unlimited access to this type of technology. It is of utmost importance to limit the use of robotics in harvesting natural resources. One can just imagine the consequences of unleashing a robotic lumberjack cutting down trees with the speed and efficiency of a grass cutter.
There are two sides to a coin when it comes to discussing the impact of cutting-edge technology like UAVs and robotics. On one hand, human societies have the capability to reap tremendous benefits from the use of these technologies. On the other hand, poverty, death, and environmental degradation are possible outcomes with the improper use of the same group of technologies. Drones enable the expansion of the capabilities of U.S. military personnel, businessmen, and researchers. The same thing can be said of robotics technology. However, UAVs are also threats to the security and the safety of civilian populations. Drones are able to transcend limitations. However, it is also a dreadful thing to consider the implications of misuse. Drones in the hands of terrorists create nightmare scenarios for security personnel. Robotic arms and robotic machines are useful in increasing production outputs and ensuring the safety of workers. However, the same capability enhances the possibility of environmental degradation in businesses that require the harvesting of natural resources.
Deb, S.R., & Deb, S. (2010). Robotics technology and flexible automation. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Casey-Maslen, S. (2014). Weapons under international human rights law. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Hyde, D. (2014). Everything you need to know about drones. The Telegraph. Web.
LaFay, M. (2015). Drones for dummies. New Jersey, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Leishman, G. (2006). Principles of helicopter aerodynamics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
NASA. (2016). What is robotics. Web.
Ruckert, U., Werner, F., & Sitte, J. (2012). Advances in autonomous mini robots. New York, NY: Springer.