2.4.1 Robotics



Social and ethical issues

  • social and economic effects of replacing people with robots in the workplace
  • ethical decisions regarding the use of robots in situations that might endanger human beings social impact of human interaction with robots, for example, artificial pets, robots for the disabled and elderly
  • social impact and ethical considerations regarding the use of robotics in medicine, for example, robotic surgery, computer-controlled prostheses
  • reliability of robotic devices, particularly in life-threatening situations.

Knowledge of technology

  • key terms—robot, android, cyborg, sensors
  • determining situations in which it is more appropriate to use a robot than a human being
  • types of input/output peripherals used in various situations, for example, arms, fingers, voice, wheels
  • reasons why robots are/are not designed as androids with human-like form
  • the capabilities and limitations of robots with respect to vision, touch, sound and movement
  • processing power in relation to the capabilities and limitations of robots.

Applications of Robotics in a range of Areas of Impact


Mars Exploration Rovers
Food production
Sheep shearing
Car production

Kamel the robot jockey

Area of Impact: Arts, Leisure and Entertainment




child-camel-jockey.jpg
Child Jockeys



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Human Trafficing

kamelrobotjockey.jpg
Kamel the Robot Jockey

Background: (click here for the full article)
Camel racing has deep roots in the traditions of Gulf Arabs and their survival in this barren and once poor and isolated land. Races are gruelling contests of endurance and take place on oval courses as long as 10km. Betting is banned but lucrative purses are put forward by corporate or tribal sponsors.
Spurring the robots' development has been vehement condemnation from human rights groups of the sport's regular jockeys. Activists say there are about 40,000 boy jockeys, some as young as 4, who are either bought from their parents or kidnapped from their home countries and taken to the Gulf to ride. The boys live in bleak conditions and are underfed before races to keep their weight down.
In Qatar, ruling sheikhs have responded to calls for banning the use of boy jockeys by embracing robots as the best solution.

Quick summary of advantages/benefits:
Child labour/slavery not longer needed – however the existing child jockeys that this has replaced is a problem as some have no families to return to
Fairer competition – as the robots operate in the same way, then the skills is more about training the camel and the person that operates the robot.

Quick summary of disadvantages:
Reliability – not always works – been through many prototypes
Traditions and cultures are being eroded/changed/lost?
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Kamel - the first version

Discussion Points relevant to ITGS:
This example demonstrates some of the social and economic effects of replacing people with robots: "We can't stop these races. They are part of our history and tradition, so we have tried to find an alternative," Sheikh Abdullah said.

The ethics reasons to replace the young children with robots are clear: "Activists say there are about 40,000 boy jockeys, some as young as 4, who are either bought from their parents or kidnapped from their home countries and taken to the Gulf to ride. The boys live in bleak conditions and are underfed before races to keep their weight down."

There are reliability issues with the robot - who is responsible if it ceases to work or has a fault and a camel destined to win does not? "Betting is banned but lucrative purses are put forward by corporate or tribal sponsors." "Sheikh Abdullah and Colot said camel racing enthusiasts were sceptical that robots could ride as well as boys, worrying that the machines would ruin the lucrative sport, where winners claim purses of hundreds of thousands of dollars."


How it works: http://www.theage.com.au/news/Breaking/Qatar-to-use-robots-as-camel-jockeys/2005/04/20/1113854221996.html
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How it works
A camel handler follows the rider in a vehicle and uses a joystick on the laptop-sized remote to issue four instructions: forward, backward, sideways and whip action. The robot, in turn, uses those commands to drive the camel. The 27.22kg robot is also equipped with a global positioning system satellite beacon and shock absorbers for the rough ride. To prevent camels from rejecting the robots, handlers spray their jerseys with traditional perfume used by trainers. "We're 10 seconds slower than the fastest time recorded for a 5km race," he said.


Further References on web
BBC video clip - Kamel has now been reduced in size and updated - see this clip for more details.
News item: "Child jockeys from Pakistan ‘sold’ into the Middle East for camel racing." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4538253.stm
Link to images of Kamel: http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2005/04/25/kamel-the-robot-jockey/

NewKamel.jpg
A newer smaller version