The “dirty, dull, and dangerous” describe the tasks we want our ever more sophisticated robots to perform. Letting the robots do this doesn’t mean that we lazily lean back. It means we’re awarded a new drive and a new reality; the robot is man's tool for a better and less mechanical life.
The story of people working with robots is a story of humanity's conflict-ridden quest for a better world. In this context, the word “robot” has both a dark and a lighter side, fear of the unknown, and its enormous potential.
It is easy to be intimidated by the rapid development in robotics. The robots are regularly cast as the villains - as technology run amok depicted in science fiction with robots seeking world domination.
Quick fact: The robot is not a conscious being. It is not possible to even create one. Robots are what we build them to be, and robots do what we program them to do. Neither more nor less. But that doesn’t keep us from anthropomorphizing them..
At Universal Robots we see this on a rather harmless level when our users give the robot arms nicknames. What in reality is a useful and advanced tool is called Louis, Robert, Thelma & Louise, and so on.
At the same time, new robot types keep entering the market as the technology goes into turbo drive; our lawnmowers, cars, and vacuum cleaners have more “senses” added and become increasingly self-propelled.
The more robots that move into our daily lives, the more at ease we feel around them. When the automated version of a product no longer has the “robot” prefix, we know that it’s become the norm – it’s not a robotic vacuum cleaner anymore, it’s just a vacuum cleaner.
I developed robots before starting school. At 41, the interaction between mechanics, electronics, software, and robots still occupies most of my waking hours. I was not the only one starting early. In 300 B.C., the Romans built the world's first washing machine. The word robot is derived from the Czech robota which means “servitude” or by Robotnik, which means “slave”. The word was first used in 1921 by the writer Karel Čapek in his play Rossum's Universal Robots.
When I and two fellow researchers in 2005 founded a Danish robot company, it felt obvious to name it “Universal Robots”. Our goal was to develop a completely new type of flexible, universal robotic arms targeting the small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMEs).