As I shared previously, R&D and innovation can quickly produce a lot more revenues for U.S. companies and in turn more jobs for our nation’s economy. One burgeoning field that is harnessing research and development to drive jobs creation is rescue robotics.
Unlike in the movies where robots such as the Terminator were villains, rescue robots like THOR, Valkyrie and Atlas travel where no human can during disasters, like a nuclear plant meltdown, to save lives.
To encourage robot developers to engineer new generations of rescue robots, the Department of Defense (DOD) launched a major competition called the Robotics Challenge Trials. During this two-day event, robots compete in a series of challenges including driving an all-terrain vehicle, turning off a valve and climbing a ladder. The goal is to engineer more human-like dexterity into a robot.
Google is one company feverishly competing to win DOD contracts for rescue robots. They have invested heavily in R&D for both commercial drone-delivery and a driver less car. They also acquired Boston Dynamics, the creator of running robots like BigDog, WildCat and Cheetah, the fastest legged robot in the world at 28.3 miles per hour (MPH). This exceeds Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, whose maximum speed is 27.78 MPH! Leading these product development efforts for Google is Andy Rubin who led software development for their Android smart phones. As a result, Google’s SHAFT robot made a major statement at the recently completed 2013 competition earning “best in task” in four categories: terrain, ladder, debris and hose.
Programs like the Robotics Challenge Trials are one of the few ways the U.S. government can stimulate R&D, innovation and jobs creation. Instead of directly creating jobs, where they have proven historically inefficient, indirectly providing a catalyst to drive private sector companies like Google, to push the limits of science, engineering and research and development, is a lot more productive. The result will be many more jobs for project engineers, automation engineers, artificial intelligence scientists, expert system developers, electrical engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, design engineers, process engineers, quality engineers, material scientists, chemists, polymer scientists, product developers and IT professionals; all professions I focus on as an engineering, scientific and technical recruiter!