CPH Post

Sci/Tech

The electricity-producing robot that wants your urine ... and possibly your job

The robots may make work easier, but at what expense?


Many industries have already seen significant layoffs due to advances in technology (Photo: Colourbox)

August 26, 2014
13:41

by Lawrence Shanahan


A team of scientists at the IT University of Copenhagen have developed a model for a robot that will help them convert urine into 'micro-biological fuel cells', which can ultimately be turned into electricity.

The main purpose of the robot named EVOBOT is to conduct repeat experiments that prove initial findings to be consistently accurate – a time-consuming process that often inhibits scientists from progressing at the speed they would like to.

Robots taking jobs?
There is no doubt that eliminating some of the mindless legwork will be beneficial to these scientists and their project, but it raises an interesting question about the role of robots in the workplace and their potential to take jobs away from human beings.

Beyond the realm of science too, robots pose a serious threat to workers around the globe. Many industries have already seen radical changes and layoffs due to advances in technology that made human jobs redundant or economically unfeasible.

Far from a concern
EVOBOT represents a cheap and easy alternative to lab technicians with regard to repeat experiments, and thus could certainly be perceived as a threat, but Susanne Bahne Hansen, the president of the Danish Association of Laboratory Technicians, does not seem concerned.

“So far the Danish Association of Laboratory Technicians has not found that robots and automations in labs have affected the number of jobs within the profession. Far from it,” she told Science Nordic.

Optimistic about change
She submits that robots may change the type of work lab technicians will be required to do, but remains optimistic about their impact. 

“First and foremost, I regard the robots in the lab as a considerable aid for the lab technicians. They can help eliminate some of the work that causes strain injuries," she continued. 

International collaboration
If all goes according to plan, EVOBOT will be sent to scientists at the University of Bristol in England – who originally came up with the concept of converting urine into energy – where they will utilise it to further their research.




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