• Question: hi guys! how can robotics benefit animals?

    Asked by evilbugs to Alex, Claire, Kate, Marcus on 25 Jun 2014.
    • Photo: Alex Lyness

      Alex Lyness answered on 25 Jun 2014:

      Hey evilbugs,

      There are loads of ways robotics will eventually be able to help animals.

      At the moment scientists and engineers are doing a lot of work with prosthetics for animals so that they can regain movement, independence and feed themselves.

      The best examples I can think of is either on Dogs: http://www.mostwatchedtoday.com/tag/dog-with-robot-legs/ or Dolphins: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/1927254/Winter-the-dolphin-gets-bionic-tail.html pretty cool eh?

      Robotic prostheses will take a bit longer to develop as they would require input of some kind, so either the animal will need to be trained to use them OR they will work automatically using some kind of sensor attached to the animals brain or muscles. Check out the answers to these two questions for more info on bionic body parts: https://healthj14.imanengineer.org.uk/2014/06/how-do-you-think-bionic-limbs-will-evolve-what-will-they-look-like and https://healthj14.imanengineer.org.uk/2014/06/if-you-can-clip-metal-on-to-your-brain-and-control-a-robot-could-you-control-somebody-elses-robotic-arm

      I think most people are researching these things to help humans first but eventually our pets maybe able to get a little help getting about if they get injured.

      Hope that’s what you wanted to hear 😀

    • Photo: Marcus Johns

      Marcus Johns answered on 25 Jun 2014:

      How can’t robotics benefit animals?!? There’s so many ways that they could! Whilst I doubt people will develop robotic limbs specifically for animals at the moment as people tend to come first, I think that one day you may find animals with robotic limbs or organs in once they’ve been perfected for human use although they probably would only be found in favourite pets or animals in zoos.

      I think robotics will probably be used for tracking animals as a development of the radio transmitters that are currently used – for example a drone that could track elephants and alert someone if poachers were present, ensuring their protection.

      They could be used to round sheep up without needing the farmer present or could follow an animal that is hard to track. At the moment turtles have a period in their life known as the ‘lost years’ as we don’t know what they do between hatching and coming back to lay their eggs – imagine releasing a robot with the hatchlings (baby turtles) that could track them for 30 years and let us know what they do. The more we know about an animal and its habits, the more we can do to make sure that we can protect them!