Robots Bring Remote Monitoring to Remote Environments

The automatic manufacturing era age began with the industrial revolution and hasn’t stopped advancing and improving. From the Gutenberg Press to the Baxter Robot, people have been inventing more and more complex machinery to make working situations better, faster, and safer.

Industrial automation is the use of robotics to handle the routine tasks of manufacturing and has improved the manufacturing and assembly processes tremendously.  More and more companies are adding automation processes to the manufacturing lines. The newest technologies in industrial automation reduce the amount of human involvement in everyday, repetitive jobs and offer hope to an industry that is coming back from the brink. Industry Week’s article “The New Age of Robotics” highlights the ability of small to medium sized companies to integrate automation into their manufacturing processes. The benefits to industrial automation include increased productivity, better quality and safety, remote monitoring, and reduced costs.

Industrial automation is changing the way manufacturers run their businesses but the use of robotics is not limited to the factory floor. The newest robotic technologies are being used in science and research as well.

A group of researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute are using robotics in a new way. They are tackling the problem of recognizing harmful algal blooms to prevent seafood contamination and illnesses with a mobile robotic laboratory. The development of the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) allows the scientists to receive data from algae samples to determine if toxins are present without having to wait for the samples. The ESP does all the work while in the ocean so the information is in real time and immediate.

The newest generation ESP fits on a small autonomous underwater vehicle which has the ability to cover approximately 1000 km (621 mi) collecting samples and detecting changes in the environment. In addition to monitoring algae blooms, the ESP has the potential to monitor and study the ocean for contaminants and the microbial ecology.

This instant information via remote monitoring is the cornerstone of new technological advances in science. In industry as in research, automation and robotics are improving techniques and processes to help us manage the world around us and how we live and work in it.

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