Human-robot symbiosis: Not all robots are coming after our jobs

Robots will take human jobs. It’s a widespread belief that artificial intelligence and machinery will be capable of doing many of the jobs that us humans do on a daily basis – one that’s even coming true in some circumstances. And when Bill Gates voices his concerns about robots taking human jobs it’s something that you have to take seriously.

But the situation might not be as devastating as it seems. There’s the possibility that instead of taking our jobs we could share them with robots and allow them to take responsibility for our most mind-numbing tasks.

That’s exactly what this half-sized robot nurse, from Japan, is capable of.

Terapio, which can help medical staff in delivering resources and recording patient information, was designed with a “human-robot symbiosis” in mind, said Ryosuke Tasaki from Toyohashi University of Technology.

In practice the ideal envisioned by the researchers is for the robot to take away the menial tasks, that can be completed by artificial intelligence, and allow a human being to focus on things that only humans are capable of.

“As we were developing Terapio, we could clearly imagine the human-robot symbiosis. By constantly promoting the pursuit of system integration technology, life with robots will be a reality in the near future,” Tasaki said.

“An ongoing daily effort to incorporate high-tech robotics into our activities will be the best way to realize life in our future society.”


Inline images courtesy of Toyohashi University of Technology

The robot that Tasaki and other researchers have created is an autonomous mobile robot that can follow a person around a building.

It is able to recognise a specific individual and then follow them between locations – in this example it can follow the doctor around hospital corridors.

The robot can record patients’ personal and vital signs and is also able to display the patient’s heath records.

There is also a touch panel on the top of the robot that is used for operating and inputting data, as well as receiving information about the doctor’s round or schedule.


Terapio is the latest robot that is offering the potential to be able to assist in medical situations, rather than fully replacing human workers. The home and healthcare sectors are seeing an increasing drive to create robots that are able to assist those working in the sectors but also provide a benefit to the patients.

This drive is particularly evident in Japan where ¥2.39bn ($3.9bn) of government funding given to researchers to help with the creation of homecare robots.

Earlier this year Robear, an experimental nursing robot also from Japan, was introduced as an those with mobility problems get in and out of bed.

The bear-shaped research project, developed by Riken and Sumitomo Riko Company, is able to lend a hand by lifting patients from beds into wheelchairs or help them to get to their feet.

Featured image courtesy of RIKEN

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