Scientists at a remote research facility in the Pilbara region of Western Australia have created a robotic tradesperson capable of completing dangerous construction work without risk of human intervention.
The invention has been called ‘accidental’, as the researchers described the creation of the robot as an act of boredom.
“Our job was to create synthetic muscle fibres,” says Kelsie Orton, senior researcher at the Macquarie Institute near Dampier. “It wasn’t exactly glamorous work, so we got a bit distracted. We made Quippy to pass the time, but then we discovered that we had a flare for robotics.”
The robot, dubbed ‘Quippy’ by his creators, is a humanoid shape and comes equipped with a number of tools that can be switched by a rotor on his arm. The robot includes a buzz saw, welding torch, and a full aluminium toolbox set, including aluminium accessories.
Quippy’s eyes act as live cameras, allowing his controller to view his actions, and he is able to respond to basic voice commands without the use of a controller.
“We didn’t know we were creating anything groundbreaking,” says Orton, “It was just a bit of fun at first, so he could do the jobs we didn’t want to handle. Then we realised that he could be an alternative to sending humans into dangerous circumstances.”
The ‘Robo-Tradie’ Quippy was discovered on social media, where his picture went viral. Patents for the robot were secured soon afterwards, with robotics company Genix sending a representative to inspect the invention for commercial viability.
“We’re not promising anything yet,” says Grant Yau, Genix CEO, “But we believe that this could be an early precursor to the robotic worker. It’s all very futuristic at this point.”
Quippy’s creators are currently working to give him amenities, such as an attached aluminium toolbox, electrical circuit breakers and an upbeat personality. Unions were quick to accuse these machines of taking jobs, and soon be responsible for sweeping unemployment in the sector.