In honor of National Robotics Week, Article One has decided to take a look at robots and their influence on the patent world.
Robotic technology has become a sizeable industry and is only continuing to grow. Advancements in Robotics have the potential to influence the patent system if they continue to develop at the current pace. The National Robotics Week Advisory Council stresses the impact of National Robotics Week by explaining why robotics technology is important:
Robotics technology is a growing industry which creates high-tech jobs in the US. [It] is helping to improve healthcare, national defense, homeland security, energy, manufacturing, logistics, transportation, agriculture, education, consumer goods, and many other sectors. Robotics provides an exciting, hands-on way for students to learn Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Robotic Convenience and Future Possibilities
The robotics industry has provided amazing robots that may have not been possible without the help of past developments. Here are some of the recent developments that may change our lives in the not-so-distant future.
The Roomba: This little robot can not only vacuum floors, it can navigate furniture on its own, too. The Roomba is programmed to vacuum all of the open space in a given area, and if it bumps into something, it turns 90 degrees and tries again. It tracks its path during the process so that when it is done with the room, it returns back to its base to charge.
Wheelie: Created by Toshiba, this robot is designed to be your own personal butler. While Wheelie does not have arms, he is equipped with a Segway-like balance system and has a flat head that is perfect for placing plates and objects on.
Poseidon Technologies: Poseidon Technologies, based on France, sells underwater vision systems for swimming pools that function as lifeguard assistants, issuing alerts when people are drowning. The system has already saved lives in Europe!
With the robotics industry ever changing, the future possibilities are endless. For example, Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland, are building large-scale computer models to study how the brain works. They have used an I.B.M. parallel supercomputer to create the most detailed three-dimensional model to date of a column of 10,000 neurons in the neocortex. In addition, many professional societies and associations, like IEEE, have robotics divisions that are devoted to advancing robotic technology and innovation.
Patents, Flying Robots, and the Beatles
Scientists, programmers, and engineers have been patenting robotic attributes since the 1950s. An inventor can patent both robotic hardware (ex: the hinges on an arm) and robotic software (ex: artificial intelligence). Although robotics is a niche trade, it is a powerful and incredible one. Whenever a large niche industry changes, the patent industry seems to change along with it. The recent developments in robotics research and production are sure to influence the patent world, attempting to shape it to fit what is needed to advance technology.
Gigantic leaps in the robotics industry are showing up everywhere. Need some hard evidence? Check out this recent TED talk given by Vijay Kumar, the Deputy Dean for Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania:
And if all else fails, at least we have some robots that can entertain us:
Learn more about the history of industrial robotics and the patents behind them.