Robot Reality: How Robots Will Change Our Lives

The Robotic Future

Michel Tcherevkoff | Iconica | Getty Images

The robots are coming and their presence will eventually bridge the digital-physical divide, dramatically impacting human life, experts say.

( Read More: Robot Revolution: How to Stay Calm and Make Money )

While a lot of attention has focused on how robots could hurt employment by replacing some human jobs, there are a number of positive ways robots may impact human life.

Here are some ways robots may change your life in the future.

(Read More: Spying Robots & More: The Coming Robotics Revolution )

By CNBC's Cadie Thompson

Robo Service


As robots become more social, humans will encounter more and more robots in the service industry, said Illah Nourbakhsh, a professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Robot Futures.

At first, humans will increasingly encounter robots more via telecommunications and it will become harder for them to distinguish robots from humans. And eventually, robots will begin to replace more service jobs—like waiting tables.

There are already novelty robots in some places, including Japan where robots act as servers, taking and delivering orders.

However, unlike a human waiter, a robot server will have all kinds of information about you before you even tell it what you want. Because robots will be connected to the Internet, they will be able to access all of the information that is available about you online to predict what you may like to order.

Medical and Rehab Robots

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Robots used for medical purposes will also dramatically change the way we treat ailments. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon are experimenting with using robots that are just millimeters in size to perform heart surgery. Engineers at Autodesk are also working with medical researchers to help them develop nano-robots that could be injected into cancer patients to selectively kill cancer cells.

For people with impairments like a spinal cord injury or partial paralysis caused by a stroke, robotics may also be able to assist in the rehabilitation process.

Researchers at Columbia University are studying how robotic exoskeletons can be used to help patients walk again. Basically, researchers have found that the robotic exoskeleton can help partially paraplegic patients retrain brain cells so that they can learn to walk again, or at least improve their gait.

Robo Cops

Source: Robotex

Robots have played a role in the military for some time. But in the future we will see a growing presence of robots used in the law enforcement, as well.

The robot maker Robotex, which is partially backed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, has deployed its AVATAR robots across the U.S.

SWAT teams, first responders and other law enforcement use the devices to quickly assess dangerous situations to help them engage in action.

But soon, police officials won't be the only ones using robots to monitor their surroundings. Telepresence robots—which are robots used to allow humans to be in more than one place—will enable humans to monitor situations in different places from remote locations.

Robotex also makes robots for people to use at their home so they can see what is going on while they are not there. But people won't just use telepresence robots to check security at their house, they will also use the technology for work and for entertainment, Nourbakhsh said.

Beam Yourself Anywhere

Source: Suitable Technologies

If you think humans are distracted by their smartphones now, wait until they have a remote robot that they can tap into and control from anywhere at anytime from their handheld device.

"Today we are already not all there, but telepresence robotics makes more compelling ways to visit your home, an other places when you are not there," Nourbakhsh said.

One use for a telepresence robot would be be to beam yourself to work from a remote location. Another scenario for use is for entertainment, Nourbakhsh said.

People may be able to rent a robot in another location to travel or experience new things. For example, say someone wanted to go to attend an Opera performance, but couldn't afford to go the traditional way. They could rent a robot in that location and enjoy everything about the experience as if they were there.

Let the Robot Drive

Karen Bleier | AFP | Getty Images

Robots may be impacting your commute sooner than you think.

According to Google, we are only about three to five years away from an autonomous car that is roadworthy. But before driverless cars are able to freely chauffeur humans around, there is still some work to do, Nourbakhsh said.

"There are absolutely critical infrastructures that haven't been designed yet," he said.

However, once the right structures are in place, there is the potential to significantly reduce traffic accidents, pollution and energy consumption.

Robot Teachers

Yoshikazu Tsuno | AFP | Getty Images

A number of schools in the U.S. are already adopting robots into the classroom, not as replacements for teachers, but as teaching assistants. And it won't be long before robots play a bigger role in the educational system, experts say.

Robots can be programmed to teach just about anything, making them an effective classroom tool.

"The cool thing robots do in the classroom is that they turn classes where you learn facts in a vacuum into classes where you solve real-world problems you really have," Nourbakhsh said. "You work on real-world challenges, you sense air pollution, you make a kinetic sculpture that motivates your mom to stop smoking on the stoop—so you are learning about biology, programming, craft, rhetoric and air quality all at once. Robots integrate across disciplines."

Robot Entertainers

Source: Compressorhead | Facebook

A big shift in the entertainment industry will spur from telepresence robots because it will allow people to travel and attend events just about anywhere.

However, robots will also be able to perform music and make artwork for humans to enjoy.

An all robot band called Compressorhead recently performed at a Gibson booth during the Frankfurt Music Fair in Frankfurt, Germany.

Longer Lives via Avatars

Geraldo Caso | AFP | Getty Images

Robots may also be key in helping humans dramatically extend their lifespan, according to Russian tycoon Dmitry Itskov.

Itskov is the founder of the 2045 Initiative, which is a non-profit organization focused on creating an international research center for scientists to research and develop technologies in the field of life extension. His vision consists of humans eventually being able to transfer their human consciousness in an artificial form to avatars.

Itskov said he envisions robots like the pictured Geminoid DK—which is a robot that looks like its master—as an ideal host for real human consciousness, thus allowing for humans to extend their life.

(Read More: Russian Tycoon Aims to Make Immortality a Reality Using Robots )