Drones are robots too!

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

It's National Robotics Week, and it's time to talk about the flying robot - drones! They are fast becoming the must-have technology for innovators around the world. The university’s drones expert Professor Andy Miah is answering the big question; "Are drones robots?" 

Professor Miah said: “In many ways, drones are the robots we always imagined would occupy our future. In, fact, I think they go even far beyond this. The humanoid robots we saw in science fiction growing up would only ever really imitate humans, but drones take us into a whole new category of intelligent machine, capable of flying, swimming underwater, traversing land and, of course, outwitting us at every turn.

“Drones are the all-powerful robot, which gets close to those machines that occupy our deepest anxieties about the future, where humans may, one day, become redundant or even lose control of machines. Yet, oddly, in this way, drone robots also start to exhibit supernatural capabilities; they are almost god like in their appearance and abilities. They promise the capacity to complete nearly any difficult task, from entering broken buildings to help rescue people to become the next generation of fully autonomous people carriers. We each may yet have our own personal dronecopter, which takes us everywhere.”

“There has to be some way of distinguishing a robot from what is merely a machine and it has to do with its place in our world. Robots are beginning to become companions to people in need of care, where humans are unable or even inefficient at supporting such needs. As crazy as it sounds, we’re already at a point where we may have feelings towards our robots, where we regard them as significant others, and where we may even feel closer to them than many humans in our lives.

“The message here isn’t that we should regard this as odd or that we should start to panic about technology, but it should compel us to work harder to ensure that we keep that special quality in human relationships that really matters. Better robots should compel us to become better humans.”

“We are entering a whole new era of the robot and we may even need a new word to define these new machines. Over the last couple of decades, we’ve used words like cyborgs and posthumanity to describe the highly technological world in which we live and, in just the last few years, we have begun to see the development of nano-sized robots, which may be infused within our own biology to perpetually repair us, even keep us alive for much longer. There’s so much to think about with all these options, that we really need to keep thinking hard about where it’s taking us.”

If you would like to find out more about drones, Professor Miah's new book 'Drones: The Brilliant, the Bad, and the Beautiful’ which can be purchased online.

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