The age of robotics and mechanisation is well underway. In only a few years, robots have gone from science fiction and gimmicks to integral parts in industrial processes. We are already familiar with robotic roles in manufacturing and processing plants. But engineers are still dreaming up new challenges to throw at our mechanical companions.

Below is a collection of five of the most unusual jobs that robots have found themselves in during recent years.

Filling prescriptions

A medical centre in California, USA, has completely automated its pharmacy with the help of pharmaceutical robots. The hospital utilises robotic technology in dispensing drugs and tracking medications and treatments. The system was built in 2011, and with continued improvements, it has become the largest of its kind today.

Preparing meals

Engineers at a robotics company in the UK named Moley has been hard at work for the last 12 months developing what can only be described as “a robot chef”. This is not exactly a new idea; there are already dozens of robots working in restaurants and kitchens. But this one is a step above the rest. The robot can download a recipe via an app and replicate it step by step.

The developers are on track to building a home version of the robot that people can actually buy.

Fitness training

Robots have long been used to facilitate recovery in patients suffering from trauma and mental health issues such as dementia and depression. A polytechnic in Singapore has taken the concept to a whole new level. Robocoach is the name of a popular robot fitness instructor designed to engage and motivate seniors in physical exercise routines.

Shark patrol

Australia is one of the world’s most famous surfing destinations. Unfortunately, some of the beaches and shallows are prone to frequent shark attacks.

Since humans are quite bad at detecting sharks from aerial images, the coast guards decided to fit a shark detection robot underneath a drone to help spot sharks. The drone sweeps the waters while the robot, equipped with AI-powered image analysis, keeps an eye out for approaching sharks. The robot raises the alarm once it detects an imminent threat.

Camel racing

Robot jockeys are a big deal in Dubai’s camel racing scene. Historically, only small, lightweight men and children as young as three years old were allowed to be jockeys. The sport puts a lot of emphasis on lightness. The first robotic jockeys were introduced in 2003, a year after using children as jockeys were outlawed. Since then, the electric riders have become smaller, lighter, versatile and a lot more sophisticated.

There is a chance that your next lifeguard, chef, personal trainer or pharmacist could be a robot. The possibilities don’t stop there, we should expect to see robots in even stranger places.

Photo: Robotic arm by US Department of State licensed under Creative Commons 4.0