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Robotics

Robotics

Robotics is a form of automation that is helping twenty-first century manufacturers in numerous industries gain rapid increases in productivity. Functions formerly performed by humansespecially difficult, dangerous, monotonous, or tedious tasksare now often assumed by robots or other mechanical devices that can be operated by humans or computers. Moreover, robots can be used to take the place of humans in extreme settings or life-threatening situations involving nuclear contaminants, corrosive chemicals, or poisonous fumes. Firmly established as a critical manufacturing technology, robotics is gaining increasing acceptance by the workforce, garnering praise for its reliability, and being utilized more extensively in medium and small companies.

THE USE OF INDUSTRIAL ROBOTS

As manufacturing assembly has grown increasingly complex, the need for new and expanded capabilities, particularly in automated assembly systems, has become evident. As components get smaller, as in microchip manufacturing, greater precision is required, and throughout manufacturing, greater flexibility and higher throughput are necessary for competitive advantage. Manual assembly no longer suffices for a great many of manufacturing's current requirements. Without industrial robots, many manufacturing tasks would simply be impossible, or their performance would be prohibitively expensive.

During the early stages of robotics development, the automobile industry was the main market for robot manufacturers. In the early 1980s, 70 percent of robot orders were for use in the automotive industry. During this time, robot manufacturers simultaneously improved their reliability and performance and sought to lessen their dependence on the automotive industry by focusing on specific niche markets. By concentrating on applications other than spot welding, painting, and dispensing, the robotics industry was able to develop products that could successfully handle not only assembly, but also material handling and material removal. Spot welding, which for a long time was the major application of robotics, eventually was eclipsed by materials handling.

While the automobile industry remains the largest user of robotics, other industries are increasing their use of robotics. The development of materials-handling robots was a clear indication that the robotics industry was becoming less dependent on the automobile industry, since materials handling is used in a wide and varied range of industries. Additionally, non-manufacturing applications started to become viable in such areas as security, health care, environmental cleanup, and space and under-sea exploration. According to reports from the Robotics Industries Association (RIA), industries such as semiconductors and electronics, metals, plastics and rubber, food and consumer goods, life sciences and pharmaceuticals, and aerospace are all finding ways that their services can be enhanced and improved through robotics.

Some manufacturers are also improving the quality of their products by using robots with powerful machine-vision inspection equipment or by linking their robots to statistical process control systems. Robot fixtures can move quickly and fluidly without sacrificing accuracy. Servo-driven positioners can be programmed to handle more than one model on the same line, something especially important to lean organizations. This programmability also allows its users to set up the systems again and again for different applications. In most cases, converting robots from one application to another can be completed with minimal downtime, requiring only programming changes. Benefits include reduced capital expenses (a firm does not have to buy new fixtures for new applications), as well as reduced floor space requirements, lead-time, component expenses, and training investment.

GROWTH IN THE ROBOTICS INDUSTRY

Robotics technology was first developed in the United States, but Japanese manufacturers were the first to fully embrace robotics. Observers view this as a significant factor in Japan's emergence as a global manufacturing power. Today Japan is not only one of the major users of manufacturing robotics, but it is also the dominant manufacturer of industrial robots.

The robotics industry has been growing in the twenty-first century. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) reports that an estimated 178,000 industrial robots are in use in the United States as of 2008, up from 82,000 in 1998. In 2007, North American manufacturers purchased nearly 16,000 robots valued at over $1 billion, a 24 percent increase from the previous year. The key factors driving the current growth in robotics are mass customization of electronic goods (specifically communications equipment), the miniaturization of electronic goods and their internal components, and the restandardization of the semiconductor industry. The food and beverage industry is also in the midst of an equipment-spending boom in an effort to improve operating efficiencies. Robot installations for such tasks as packaging, palletizing, and filling are expected to see continued growth. In addition, increases are anticipated in the aerospace, appliance, and non-manufacturing markets.

Though less dependent on the automotive industry than in the past, the robotics industry still finds its widest application in that market. Purchases in 2007 were particularly high in the automobile industry, with a 100 percent increase in orders for spot-welding robots and a 38 percent increase for coating and dispensing robots. However, driven by the need for increased manufacturing efficiency, the automakers and automotive-related industries are moving away from hard automation in favor of flexible automation. Analysts predict greater use of robots for assembly, paint systems, final trim, and parts transfer in the automotive industry. Realistic robot simulation is making an impact by integrating vehicle design and engineering into manufacturing.

One reason for increased practicality of robots is the availability to control machinery and systems through personal or laptop computers. According to Waurzyniak, some advances in computer-guided systems are robots with force-sensing capabilities and 3-D and 2-D vision-guidance capabilities. NASA is using sophisticated computer-guided robot controllers for its space shuttle Endeavor and the Mars landing craft. Each of these systems utilize computer control of some sort, ranging from simple machine-specific tracking to shop-wide data collection across a variety of machinery and instruments to galactic monitoring and control in a unique, outer space environment.

THE FUTURE OF ROBOTICS

To some, the future of robotics has never looked brighter. While robots are now a fixture in factories, robotics experts expect to see their range increasing. The author of Theory of Applied Robotics: Kinematics, Dynamics, and Control (2007) states, Robots are prospective machines whose application area is widening. Other observers are even more excited, expecting robots to lead from the factory to other areas of life relatively soon. As the author of Robots: From Science Fiction to Technological Revolution (2005) put it, Now, on the cusp of the 21st century, [robots] are poised to saturate every aspect of our culture, from medicine, science, and industry to artworks, toys, and household appliances.

Production of bipedal robots that mimic human movement are being created around the globe. Honda Motor Company's ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) robot is considered the world's most advanced humanoid robot. It can climb stairs, kick, walk, talk, dance, and even communicate and interact via its voice

and facial recognition systems. Honda plans to one day market the robot as an assisted-living companion for the disabled or elderly. Other robots that simulate human movement have been created at Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Holland's Delft University of Technology.

Chip Walter's 2005 article, You, Robot, discusses renowned robotics researcher, Hans Moravec, Carnegie Mellon University scientist and cofounder of the university's Robotics Institute. Moravec is known for his longstanding prediction that super-robots that can perceive, intuit, adapt, think, and even simulate feelings, much like humans, will be practicable before the year 2050. His confidence in his predictions led him to open his own robotics firm in 2003, the Seegrid Corporation, to assist him in fulfilling his claims. His path toward that vision is to start simplyto create mobile carts with software and vision systems that can be taught to follow paths and navigate independently. Moravec believes that machines will evolve in small steps, eventually reaching the levels of human intelligence and movement. His bedrock belief, on which he bases his technology, is if robots are going to succeed, the world cannot be adapted to them; they have to adapt to the world, just like the rest of us.

Stuart Brown reports that navigation technologies such as the global positioning system (GPS) are allowing industrial robots to move around in the world. GPS in conjunction with inertial navigation systems (INS) and the booming field of silicon micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) are impacting robotics from simple automated lawn mowers to complex airplane control systems. Robotics are reaching the micro-level with the exploration of robotic water insects equipped with biomechanical sensors that could be used as environmental monitors. The current prototype weighs less than a gram and draws power from ultra-thin electrical wires. An affordable and time-saving alternative to locating gas leaks has been developed in a pipe-inspecting robot crawler; equipped with multiple joints and video cameras, it easily navigates sharp turns and narrow pipes while projecting images of pipe integrity to a monitor. Plans for the future include a sensor that will detect corrosion and cracks in the pipes that do not appear in the video images.

Robots have come of age. While they were initially used for fairly simple tasks such as welding and spray-painting automobiles, these machines have increased tremendously in ability over the last decade, reaching further than simple auto applications. Robotics will remain vital in the decades to come due to expanding scientific fields and increasing demand for more affordable and sophisticated methods of accomplishing common tasks. If robotics experts and forecasters are correct, people will soon see robots leaving the factory and taking their place among the rest of society, performing tasks once imagined only in science fiction.

SEE ALSO Lean Manufacturing and Just-in-Time Production; Quality and Total Quality Management; Simulation

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brown, S.F. Send in the Robots! Fortune (Industrial Management Version), 24 January 2005, 140C146C.

Ichbiah, Daniel. Robots: From Science Fiction to Technological Revolution. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 2005.

Jazar, Reza N. Theory of Applied Robotics: Kinematics, Dynamics, and Control. New York: Springer, 2007.

Meredith, Jack R., and Scott M. Shafer. Operations Management for MBAs. 3rd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2006.

Robotic Industries Association. North American Robot Orders Jump 24% in 2007. Robotics Online, 21 February 2008. Available from: http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-News/North-American-Robot-Orders-Jump-24-in-2007/content_id/423.

Siciliano, Bruno, and Oussama Khatib, eds. Springer Handbook of Robotics. New York: Springer, 2008.

Six Degrees of Robotic Fixturing. Automotive Manufacturing & Production 110, no. 11 (1998): 80.

Vincent, D.A. Leading the Charge to a Productive 21st Century. Robotics World 16, no. 4 (1998): 1926.

Walter, Chip. You, Robot. Scientific American 292, no. 1 (2005): 3637.

Waurzyniak, P. Automating the Factory. Manufacturing Engineering 134, no. 2 (2005): 9399.

Your Standard Robot. Machine Design 70, no. 15 (1998): 56.

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Robotics

Robotics

Robotics is the study of how to design, build, use, and work with robots. Although there is no consensus regarding the definition of the term robot, it is commonly defined as a mechanism that can sense its environment, process what it senses, and act upon its environment based on that processing.

Precursors of Robots

Automatonsmechanisms that perform predefined tasks with some degree of autonomy are the early predecessors of robots and have existed for more than 1,000 years. In the ninth century, the Chinese built a statue of Buddha surrounded by steam-powered servants that would move in a circle around the central figure. In the eighteenth century, the French constructed small mechanical "scribes" that, when powered by hand, could write up to forty pre-set characters using an attached writing implement. In the nineteenth century, automatons gave way to automation. In 1801 Joseph-Marie Jacquard (17541834), a French inventor, designed and built a loom that used a set of punched cards with which the user could produce complex tapestries simply by pushing a pedal.

Grey Walters, a British scientist, built devices in the 1940s that moved toward lights and retreated from contact. Between 1961 and 1963, Johns Hopkins University staff built the "Hopkins Beast" that wandered the halls, stayed away from walls, and plugged itself in for recharging. All of these mechanisms are considered automatons rather than robots because they responded to stimuli without processing them first.

Early Robots

The devices now called robots developed from the work of scientists in three separate fields of engineering: teleoperation , manufacturing, and artificial intelligence (AI) .

American inventor George C. Devol Jr. filed a patent in 1954 for a playback device for controlling machines. Devol's work grew from, among other things, Teleoperation, which began in the 1930s to handle nuclear materials. In 1958 Devol and Joseph Engelberger, an American entrepreneur, filed a patent for the first programmable manipulator (robot arm). The Unimation Corporation was formed in 1961 to put such devices into production. Engelberger's vision was to outfit assembly lines, such as those in automobile factories, with robot manipulators to automate the heavy lifting and assembly of large parts. General Motors (GM) installed the first industrial robot, made by Unimation, on a production line in 1962.

Also in the 1960s, scientists at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) studied artificial intelligence on computers. They wanted to make their work more interesting and applicable to the real world, so the team built Shakey, the first mobile robot, in 1969. Shakey had a camera, a range finder, and bump sensors that allowed it to detect obstacles.

Applications of Robotics

Since the first Unimation robot, the scope and complexity of industrial tasks carried out by robots has steadily increased. Modern automotive factories use robots for assembly, welding, painting, and quality control. Innovation in the Mobile Robotics community has led to the creation of industrial robots that can autonomously harvest grain, mow lawns, and clean spacecraft.

The field of Medical Robotics has adapted and expanded many of the techniques created for robot arms into tools for doctors. A hip replacement, which traditionally requires a 30-centimeter (11.7-inch) incision, can be done with an 8-centimeter (3.1-inch) incision using robotic assistance. These improvements lead to shorter recovery periods for patients and reduce the chance of infection. Robotics allows a doctor to spend less time on standard procedures, and more time on difficult cases and unexpected complications.

Robots are also particularly useful for exploring and working in hazardous environments. Robotic rovers travel to other planets and send back information to scientists. There are robots that clean oil and gasoline tanks, and robots that remove asbestos from underground pipes. The U.S. military is putting a substantial amount of effort into developing robot scouts, advance teams, and tools to save the lives of military personnel in both offensive and defensive situations.

In the transportation field, robots are quickly gaining ground, though the mechanisms are rarely called robots. By 2000, there were automobiles that could autonomously maintain a safe distance behind other cars. Modern airplanes can take off, fly, and land without assistance from the pilot, and are therefore robots by most definitions. The near future will bring cars that do not need drivers, trains that do not need conductors, and planes that do not need pilots. Robotics and robot technologies are also widely used in amusement parks, movies, and toys.

Robotics in Science

Even more varied than the consumer and business applications of robotics are the academic disciplines that have been created to advance the state of the art. Robotics is characterized by a synergy between very practical applications and cutting-edge research. Broadly, while industry focuses on finding robotic ways of doing existing tasks, research focuses on extending the fundamental abilities of robots. This division is not a strict rule, however; many research labs produce usable robots, and industrial development routinely improves basic robotic technology. All areas of robotics are studied, to varying degrees, in academic, governmental, and industrial research laboratories.

In the 1940s, as the mechanisms being controlled in Teleoperation became more complex, Telerobotics, the study of remotely operated robots, was born. As Engelberger created and popularized robots in factories, researchers created the field of Manipulation, or the study of the physics and control of those machines. Mobile Robotics studies techniques for enabling robots to move through their environments. There are wheeled robots, legged robots, and treaded robots. There are robots with one, two, four, six, or more legs, and robots with combinations of treads, wheels, and legs. Medical Robotics, Space Robotics, and Industrial Robotics, among others, are also significant fields of scientific research and study.

Robotics also enhances the work of scientists in other fields. Telerobotics has enabled scientists to study the centers of volcanoes. Mobile Robotics has allowed scientists to find meteors in the Antarctic remotely and to explore the surface and atmosphere of Mars.

All fields of robotics are interdependent, as well as dependent on other engineering and science disciplines. Computer vision and sensor technology allow robots to sense their environments. Advances in artificial intelligence have led to robots with greater abilities to understand their environments, while robotics provides artificial intelligence with the physical capacity to interact with the environment. Of course, these relationships are only two examples. Fundamentally, robotics is the science of innovation by integrating and extending other technologies.

Social Implications of Robotics

When Jacquard introduced his mechanized loom, there were rebellions in Paris. Weavers were afraid that they would be run out of business. When robots are installed in automobile factories, managers rejoice, but workers are concerned that they will be replaced by machines and be out of work.

Robots are labor-saving devices, and, by definition, labor-saving devices result in lower human labor requirements. Although robots cannot replace humans in many ways, there are already hundreds of jobs that have been made easier or eliminated by robots. Throughout history, questions have been raised about the effects of automation on the workforce. There is no consensus on what exactly that effect is. This remains an ongoing debate in the robotic and industrial communities.

One thing that robots will not do any time in the near future is replace humans. Although robots can move and make decisions, and seem to have emotions, robots are not self-aware. That is, they cannot think about their own existence. Scientists and philosophers have also argued that robots do not have a "consciousness" or that they lack a "soul."

Scientists disagree on how long it will be before robots are capable of operating without human assistance or are mistaken for humans. Some scientists, and many philosophers, assert that both tasks are impossible. Other scientists speculate that robots will be able to replace humans by 2030. Most scientists believe that it will take more than a hundred years, perhaps several hundred, before robots are even self-sufficient.

Robotics in Science Fiction

The idea of the robot dates back almost as far as the written word. Homer (9th or 8th century B.C.E.), in the "Iliad," describes Haephestus, the Greek god of the forge, as having golden maid servants that "look like young girls who could speak and walk and were filled with intelligence and wisdom." Early twentieth-century Czech playwright Karel Capek (18901938) invented the word robot in his 1921 play, Rossum's Universal Robots (R.U.R.). In that work, Rossum's Universal Robots were beings that looked and acted just like human beings and were invented to serve people. Unlike the robots we think of today, these devices were made of biological parts, but like the modern idea of robots, they were built by people to do things for people.

Between 1921 and 1940, robots made many appearances in books, stories, movies, and plays. Although some of the robots in these fictional accounts were designed to help and serve humans, the majority of them were simply evil, and even the good robots invariably ended up destroying their owner, inventor, or the entire human race. Twentieth-century American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov (19201992) invented the word "robotics" in "Runaround." In this 1942 short story, he uses the term to describe the study of robots. Asimov's 1950 novel, I, Robot, marked the first piece of writing in which robots were regarded as ultimately non-destructive, and also proposed the "three laws of robotics" that have been used or mentioned in many works of fiction since then.

Robots have made countless appearances in movies, books, stories, and plays since 1942, and they are now represented as good as often as they are evil. More importantly, the concepts created by science fiction authors continue to motivate the scientists and engineers who design robots, such as the Personal Satellite Assistant, being built by NASA, that was directly inspired by Luke Skywalker's light saber-training robot in Star Wars.

The Future

In the mid-twentieth century, when computers were invented, they were easy to recognize. Computers took up entire rooms and used as much power as an entire building. Now, computers are everywhere. There is a computer on your desk, there is a computer in your television, and there is probably a computer in your toaster.

In much the same way, robots started as big machines that were obviously robots. Now, robots have taken on many different forms: automated trams in airports, automatic car washes, and even gas stations that autonomously find your gas tank, open it, and fill it, to name a few. Despite their names and appearances, these mechanisms are, in fact, robots.

As we move to the future, robots will be found everywhere, and robotics will expand to study all of their enabling technologies and their limitless applications.

see also Artificial Intelligence; Asimov, Isaac; Robots.

Salvatore Domenick Desiano

Bibliography

Asimov, Isaac, and Karen A. Frenkel. Robots: Machines in Man's Image. New York: Harmony Books, 1985.

Kortenkamp, David, R. Peter Bonasso, and Robin Murphy, eds. Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Robotics: Case Studies of Successful Robot Systems. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998.

Malone, Robert. The Robot Book. New York, NY: Push Pin Press, 1978.

Moravec, Hans P. Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Reichardt, Jasia. Robots: Fact, Fiction, and Prediction. New York: Viking, 1978.

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Robotics

Robotics

The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) defines robot as follows: "A robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools or specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks." Recently, however, the industry's current working definition of a robot has come to be understood as any piece of equipment that has three or more degrees of movement or freedom.

Robotics is an increasingly visible and important component of modern business, especially in certain industries. Robotics-oriented production processes are most obvious in factories and manufacturing facilities; in fact, approximately 90 percent of all robots in operation today can be found in such facilities. These robots, termed "industrial robots," were found almost exclusively in automobile manufacturing plants 20 years ago. But industrial robots are now being used in laboratories, research and development facilities, warehouses, hospitals, energy-oriented industries (petroleum, nuclear power, etc.), and, above all, in research.

According to RIA, some 160,000 robots were installed and operating in the U.S. in 2006. In 2005, 19,594 robots valued at $1.18 billion were shipped to North American companies. In the first quarter of 2006, orders by RIA members (about 90 percent of the industry) were valued at $272 million and represented 3,722 such machines. Robotics thus is already a well-established and one might say mature industryand yet its future is unimaginably large and diverse.

TECHNOLOGY

Today's robotics systems operate like most machines by way of hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical power. Electric motors have become progressively smaller, with high power-to-weight ratios, enabling them to become the dominant means by which robots are powered. The crucial element in robotics is the artificial intelligence carried in the programmable circuitry of the machines.

Robots are comprised of elements that differ depending on end use. The hand of a robot, for instance, is referred to in the industry as an "end effector." End effectors may be specialized tools, such as spot welders or spray guns, or more general-purpose grippers. Common grippers include fingered and vacuum types. Another central element of robotics control technology is the sensor. It is through sensors that a robotic system receives knowledge of its environment, to which subsequent actions of the robot can be adjusted. Sensors are used to enable a robot to adjust to variations in the position of objects to be picked up, to inspect objects, and to monitor proper operation (although some robots are able to adjust to variations in object placement without the use of sensors, provided they have sufficient end effector flexibility). Important sensor types include visual, force and torque, speed and acceleration, tactile, and distance sensors. The majority of industrial robots use simple binary sensing, analogous to an on/off switch. This does not permit sophisticated feedback to the robot as to how successfully an operation was performed. Lack of adequate feedback also often requires the use of guides and fixtures to constrain the motions of a robot through an operation, which implies substantial inflexibility in changing operations.

Robots are programmed either by guiding or by off-line programming. Most industrial robots are programmed by the former method. This involves manually guiding a robot from point to point through the phases of an operation, with each point stored in the robotic control system. With off-line programming, the points of an operation are defined through computer commands. This is referred to as manipulator level off-line programming. An important area of research is the development of off-line programming that makes use of higher-level languages, in which robotic actions are defined by tasks or objectives.

Robots may be programmed to move through a specified continuous path instead of from point to point. Continuous path control is necessary for operations such as spray painting or arc welding a curved joint. Programming also requires that a robot be synchronized with the automated machine tools or other robots with which it is working. Thus robot control systems are generally interfaced with a more centralized control system.

COMMON USES OF ROBOTICS

Industrial robotics has emerged as a popular manufacturing methodology in several areas in recent years, including welding, materials transport, assembly, and spray finishing operations.

Spot and Electric Arc Welding

Welding guns are heavy and the speed of assembly lines requires precise movement, thus creating an ideal niche for robotics. Parts can be welded either through the movement of the robot or by keeping the robot relatively stationary and moving the part past the robot. The latter method has come into widespread use since it generally requires less expensive conveyor systems. The control system of the robot must synchronize the robot with the speed of the assembly line and with other robots working on the line. Control systems may also count the number of welds completed and derive productivity data.

Pick-and-Place Operations

Industrial robots also perform what are referred to as pick-and-place operations. Among the most common of these operations is loading and unloading pallets, used across a broad range of industries. This requires relatively complex programming, as the robot must sense how full a pallet is and adjust its placements or removals accordingly. Robots have been vital in pick-and-place operations in the casting of metals and plastics. In the die casting of metals, for instance, productivity using the same die-casting machinery has increased up to three times, the result of robots' greater speed, strength, and ability to withstand heat in parts removal operations.

Assembly

Assembly is one of the most demanding operations for industrial robots. A number of conditions must be met for robotic assembly to be viable, among them that the overall production system be highly coordinated and that the product be designed with robotic assembly in mind. The sophistication of the control system required implies a large initial capital outlay, which generally requires production of 100,000 to one million units per year in order to be profitable. Robotic assembly has come to be used in the production of a wide range of goods, including circuit boards, electronic components and equipment, household appliances, and automotive subassemblies.

Spray Finishing Operations

Industrial robots are widely used in spray finishing operations, particularly in the automobile industry. One of the reasons these operations are cost-effective is that they minimize the need for environmental control to protect workers from fumes.

Robots are also used for quality control inspections, since they can be programmed to quantitatively measure various aspects of a product's creation. In addition, the use of robots in environmental applications, such as the cleaning of contaminated sites and the handling and analysis of hazardous materials, represents an important growth market for robotics producers. Non-industrial applications for robots in security, commercial cleaning, food service, and health care are also on the rise.

FUTURE OF ROBOTICS

Recent research and development has addressed a number of aspects of robotics. Robotic hands have been developed which offer greater dexterity and flexibility, and improvements have been made in visual sensors as well (earlier generations of visual sensors were designed for use with television and home video, and did not process information quickly for optimal performance in many robotics applications; as a consequence, solid-state vision sensors came into increased use, and developments were also made with fiber optics). The use of superconducting materials, meanwhile, offers the possibility of substantial improvements in the electric motors that drive robotic arms. Attempts have also been made to develop lighter robotic arms and increase their rigidity. Standardization of software and hardware to facilitate the centralization of control systems has also been an important area of development in recent years.

Research in robotics is a large and thriving enterprise ranging at one end from artificial intelligence studies attempting to decompose the processes of human thoughtso that these can be mechanized and put into robotsto complex and independent movement needed to turn industrial robots into walking, talking, and manipulating human look-alikesthe way ordinary people picture robots. Communication between people and robotsand robot-to-robot dialoguefit into this spectrum somewhere. Motivations for creating robots arise from the field of medicine where robots are being developed to act as nursing aides on the one hand and as intelligent miniaturized agents on the other. Environmental issues have engaged robotics designers, e.g., the demanufacturing of electronic equipment which is a form of toxic waste and the handling of nuclear wastes. Robot miners may someday replace humans in dangerous environments. And, of course, robotics is a major area of research in defense applications.

Participation in this business by small business has centered around research and developmenteither directly in developing applications or in providing support services. High levels of engineering, electronics, and computer science skills are the keys of entryand not least an interest in what is a genuinely fascinating subject.

see also Automation

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Age of Robotic Care for the Elderly?" Healthcare Financial Management. May 2006.

"Almost Human: They walk, talk and handle objects like we do. Get ready for a new era in robotics." New Scientist. 4 February 2006.

"Deployment of Robotics for Demanufacturing of Electronic Products." Advanced Manufacturing Technology. 15 April 2006.

Dubey, Venketesh N., and Jian S. Dai. "A Packaging Robot for Complex Cartons." Industrial Robot. March-April 2006.

"First Quarter 2006 Robot Sales Impacted by Downturn in Automotive Market." Robotics Online. 3 May 2006.

Nowak, Rachel. "And they call it robot love." New Scientist. 14 January 2006.

"Robotic Sensing for the Mining Industry." Advanced Manufacturing Technology. 15 March 2006.

"Robotic Surgery: Medic-aid." The Engineer. 3 October 2005.

Sands, David. "Cost Effective Robotics in the Nuclear Industry." Industrial Robot. May-June 2006.

Thilmany, Jean. "Space Robots Like Us." Mechanical Engineering-CIME. April 2006.

                                Hillstrom, Northern Lights

                                 updated by Magee, ECDI

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Robotics

Robotics


The term robot derives from the Czech word robota, which means slavery, drudgery, or compulsory labor. In 1920, the Czech author Karel Čapek (1890-1938) wrote a play entitled R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots, where he used robota for machine-humans, giving rise to the English word robot. The science fiction writer Isaac Asimov coined the term robotics as the field of academic study of the construction of robots. This connection to fiction points already to the utopian and eschatological elements in the science of robotics.


Kinds of robots

Basically, one can distinguish between industrial robots and artificial intelligence (AI) robots. Industrial robots are either remote controlled devices or machines that repeat constantly a series of movements, as in a factory. AI robots have some level of intelligence that enables them to react more flexibly and autonomously in their environment. The two kinds of AI robots mirror the two camps within AI. Classical AI robots are controlled by a central processor running a specific program. Such robots are used in highly restricted static environments. Embodied robots on the other hand are distributed systems interacting with natural worlds. Both technologies have a wide array of applications ranging from household robots, nurses, search and rescue robots, robots used as social agents for global communications, and robots used in ubiquitous computing (intelligent agents hidden in everyday tools such as stereos and coffeemakers).

The understanding of human intelligence in AI robotics mirrors specific theories about humans and their intelligence. In Classical AI, intelligence is understood as information processing. The most important elements of intelligence are learning, knowledge representation, searching, language, and mathematical theorem proving. One of the most well-known applications for this type of intelligence is chess. When applied to robots, this concept makes for very good and reliable machines that act in clear defined, restricted, and unchangeable environments. In natural worlds, however, these robots can navigate only very slowly and cannot deal with rapidly changing surroundings.

Embodied AI understands intelligence as a result of the evolutionary process and thus as the capability to survive. Abstract features such as logic and chess are seen as by-products of the human capability to survive in many different environments. Robots built according to this understanding of intelligence are increasingly autonomous. During the late 1990s, researchers started to build autonomous robots with social features for natural human-robot interfaces, which enlarges the field of possible applications.


Ethical and religious perspectives

Several theological and ethical problems arise in robotics. One argument for the use of robotics in industry and manufacturing is that it liberates humans from tedious work. But robotics also threatens to make many humans superfluous and to eliminate jobs. However, this issue is not specific for robotics but relates to the whole area of technology and will not be explored in this entry. The following ethical and theological problems refer to AI robots only.

Playing God. Often people think that AI researchers do their work out of hubris. AI roboticists who build autonomous creatures are sometimes accused of "playing God." The dangers of such actions are described in myths, including the myth of Prometheus, and the story of Frankenstein in Western culture. The Jewish Kabbalah provides an alternative view in the construction of golems (artificial humans made from clay), which is seen as a form of prayer. The imago dei (the Biblical statement that God has created humans in God's image) symbolizes the divine creativity in human beings so that whenever people are creative they praise God. In "rebuilding" themselves, people create the most complex being God created, thus praising and celebrating God to the utmost. Many of the founders of AI come from this Jewish tradition and understand their work in that sense.

Anthropomorphization and human uniqueness. If it were possible for researchers to build robots that work like humans, does that mean humans are also some kind of machine? Many people feel threatened by AI products because they seem to undermine human uniqueness. Because most people react more strongly to physical entities, the threat is perceived to be even greater with robots. Instead of just being connected to a computerized entity via a keyboard and screen, people connect with robots in a physical, sensual way, and they have to deal with creatures that share their physical space.

Experiments by Byron Reeves and Cliff Nass have demonstrated the degree to which humans anthropomorphize gadgets that are in some way responsive. Their experiments reveal that anthropomorphization of stereos, cars, or computers is a natural reaction in humans, and it takes a conscious effort for people to not react that way to the technical tools with which they interact in daily life. That is, people tend to react to robots as if they were partners, yet this reaction, stemming from innate social mechanisms, triggers fears not just that humans will loose their uniqueness but also that robots may surpass humans and make humans superfluous.

In most cultures, the human understanding of self contains an element of specialness; humans are distinct and cannot be compared with other species. In the Jewish and Christian tradition this sense of specialness has often been based on the imago dei. For millennia, people have attempted to identify with empirical human features, such as the humanoid body, human intelligence, or humor. A relational interpretation of the imago dei seems to have become prevalent. Based on a relational ontology, the imago dei is a promise of God to start and maintain a relationship with humans. Human uniqueness is then based not on special human capabilities but only on the faith-based statement that God has chosen humans as partners with whom God can interact and who will answer (sometimes).

The fear of losing human uniqueness when researchers are capable of building machines that are as smart as people is thus based on a traditional interpretation of the imago dei and can be overcome by this relational understanding of the concept. With this concept in mind, the idea of humans constructing robots as a spiritual enterprise, as depicted in the golem tradition, gains a stronger foundation. Christians may add that just as God is relational in the trinity and in the relation with humans, humans are relational. In building robots, humans create creatures with whom they can interact and who will answer. What is amazing is that even the simplest insect is much more complex and more interactive than any robot the most brilliant engineers have been able to build as of the beginning of the twenty-first century. Building autonomous robots in the image of God's creatures does not therefore make humans arrogant, but rather increasingly modest and admiring of the complexity of God's creation.


See also Artificial Intelligence; Cybernetics; Cyborg


Bibliography

asimov, isaac. the robot collection. new york: doubleday, 1983.

brooks, rodney allen. cambrian intelligence: the early history of the new ai. cambridge, mass.: mit press, 1999.

čapek, karel. r.u.r. in capek: four plays, trans peter majer and cathy porter. new york: methuen, 2000.

minsky, marvin. the society of mind. cambridge, mass.: mit press, 1985.

reeves, byron, and nass, clifford. the media equation: how people treat computers, television, and new media like real people and places. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press, 1999.

wiener, norbert. god and golem, inc.: a comment on certain points where cybernetics impinges on religion. cambridge, mass.: mit press, 1964.

anne foerst

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Robotics Technology

Robotics Technology

The word "robot" was coined in 1934 by the Czech playwright Karel C apek from the Czech word robota, meaning "compulsory labor." While this original meaning still applies to most Earth-bound robots, robots in space have broken through the tedium to become great explorers. They work in environments that may be harmful to humans or in situations where sending a human crew would be too costly. They have been sent as advanced guards to measure the temperature, evaluate the atmosphere, and analyze the soil of other worlds to determine what human explorers can expect to find.

What, exactly, is a robot? A broad definition considers any mechanism guided by automatic controls to be a robot; a very narrow definition requires a robot to be a humanoid mechanical device capable of performing complex human tasks automatically. Robots in space have fallen somewhere in between these extremes. They generally involve a mechanical armresembling part of a human, at leastattached to a stationary planetary landing module or to a mobile rover that must perform complex tasks, such as recognizing and avoiding dangerous obstacles in its path. But the evolution to humanoid robots is well under way with the Robonaut being developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Early Space Robots

The first robot in space was a motor-driven mechanical arm equipped with a scoop on the Surveyor 3, which landed on the Moon on April 20, 1967. Acting on signals sent from engineers on Earth, the arm extended and the scoop dug four trenches in the lunar soil, up to 18 centimeters (7 inches) deep. It then placed the samples in front of a camera for scientists on Earth to see. Later Surveyor missions carried analytical instrumentation to determine the chemical composition of the soil samples.

Following the successful human Moon landings that began in 1969 with Apollo 11, NASA began to prepare for piloted missions to Mars. They launched two spacecraft called Viking 1 and Viking 2, which landed on Mars in 1976 on July 20 and September 3, respectively. The Viking landers transmitted pictures of the rock-strewn, rusty-red landscape of Mars back to Earth for the first time. Because there had long been speculation about life on Mars, the Viking landers carried three biological experiments onboard. When the robotic arm of Viking 1 put a sample of the Martian soil into one of the experimental chambers, an excessive amount of oxygen was generateda possible indication of some form of plant life in the soil. But, to the dismay of the scientists, when the same experiment was performed by Viking 2, no signs of life were found. The question of whether there is life on Mars remains unanswered.

A different type of robot called an "aerobot" was used by Soviet and French scientists to analyze the atmosphere of Venus as part of the Vega balloon mission in 1985. Two Teflon-coated balloons (aerobots) carrying scientific instrumentation floated through the thick Venusian atmosphere for forty-eight hours while researchers recorded temperature, pressure, vertical wind velocity , and visibility measurements. Separate landing modules carried analytical instrumentation to determine the composition of the atmosphere and of the surface on landing. More advanced aerobot technology is being developed for NASA's Mars Aerobot Technology Experiment, scheduled for April 2003.

Space Shuttle-Era Robots

The space shuttle was developed as a reusable spacecraft to replace the costly one-time-use-only vehicles that marked the Apollo era. On its second mission in November 1981, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia tested the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), a robotic arm located in the cargo bay. The RMS is 15 meters (50 feet) long 38 centimeters (15 inches) in diameter and weighs 411 kilograms (905 pounds). It has a shoulder (attached to the cargo bay), a lightweight boom that serves as the upper arm, an elbow joint, a lower arm boom, a wrist, and an "end effector" (a gripping tool that serves as a hand) that can grab onto a payload . The RMS was designed to lift a satellite weighing up to 29,500 kilograms (65,000 pounds) from the payload bay of the shuttle and release it into space. It can also retrieve defective satellites in orbit for the astronauts to repair. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the RMS has been the retrieval and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), whose initially flawed primary mirror produced blurry pictures. After it was hauled in by the RMS and repaired using corrective optics in 1993, the HST began delivering the high-quality photographs that astronomers had long awaited.

After two decades of debate about the need to explore Earth's nearest neighbor in the solar system, the Mars Pathfinder landed on the Red Planet on July 4, 1997, and deployed a six-wheeled robotic rover called Sojourner to explore the terrain. Standing only 30 centimeters (1 foot) tall and resembling a rolling table with its flat solar panels facing skyward to soak up energy from the Sun, Sojourner roamed short distances to take pictures of interesting rock formations. It used two stereoscopic cameras mounted on its front to see the terrain in three dimensions, just like we do with our slightly separated stereoscopic eyes. A laser beam continuously scanned the area immediately in front of Sojourner to avoid collisions with objects the cameras might have missed. Sojourner analyzed the chemical composition of fifteen rocks using its alpha proton X-ray spectrometer . NASA plans to land a pair of advanced rovers on Mars in 2003.

Robonaut and Beyond

Engineers are starting to think of robots on a more human scale again. Since the space shuttle and the International Space Station are designed on a human scale, having robots built to the same scale would be advantageous in working on these spacecraft. NASA is currently developing the Robonaut, a humanoid robotic astronaut about the size of a human astronaut, with a head mounted on a torso, a primitive electronic brain that allows it to make decisions relating to its work, four cameras for eyes, a nose with an infrared thermometer to determine an object's temperature, two arms containing 150 sensors each, and two five-fingered hands for dexterous manipulation of objects. It will work alone or alongside human astronauts on space walks to build or repair equipment.

Robotics engineers are also working on a personal satellite assistant, which is a softball-size sphere that would hover near an astronaut in a spacecraft, monitoring the environment for oxygen and carbon monoxide concentrations, bacterial growth, and air temperature and pressure. It will also provide additional audio and video capabilities, giving the astronaut another set of eyes and ears.

see also Exploration Programs (volume 2); Robotic Exploration of Space (volume 2).

Tim Palucka

Bibliography

Asimov, Isaac, and Karen A. Frenkel. Robots: Machines in Man's Image. New York:Harmony Books, 1985.

Masterson, James W., Robert L. Towers, and Stephen W. Fardo. Robotics Technology. Tinley-Park, IL: Goodheart-Willcox, 1996.

Moravec, Hans. Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Thro, Ellen. Robotics: The Marriage of Computers and Machines. New York: Facts on File, 1993.

Yenne, Bill. The Encyclopedia of U.S. Spacecraft. New York: Exeter Books, 1985.

Internet Resources

Aerobot. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://robotics.jpl.nasa.gov/tasks/aerobot/background/when.html>.

Robonaut. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://vesuvius.jsc.nasa.gov/er_er/html/robonaut/robonaut.html>.

2003 Mars Mission. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. <http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/future/2003.html>.

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Robots

Robots

The traditional romantic portrayal of the robot is as an anthropomorphic , autonomous entity that possesses intelligence and walks and talks in a way that mimics human behavior. The truth is not quite so glamorous. Robots are electromechanical machines that rarely resemble the human form. Instead, the overwhelming majority of robots are often anchored to one point and consist of a single flexible arm.

The purpose of robotics technology is essentially to carry out repetitive, physically demanding and potentially dangerous manual activities so that humans are relieved from these tasks. Examples of these chores include working on a factory production line assembly, handling hazardous materials, and dealing with hostile environments like underground mines, underwater construction sites, and explosives plants. Industrial robots can also be scheduled to work twenty-four hours a day to maximize productivity in manufacturing environmentssomething that human workers have never been able to do.

Conventional robots possess a base which is usually anchored to the floor, but may also be attached to a rail or gantry (platform) that permits sliding movement. An arm called a manipulator, which is flexible and is one of the main features of the robot, is connected to the base. On the tip of the arm is an attachment called the end-effector this is the mounting point for interchangeable grippers or tools. The arm is moved about by using either hydraulic or pneumatic actuators, or by gears, linkages, and cables driven by electric motors. The motors used are usually of the servo or stepper type. Servo motors rotate at a required speed under command, whereas stepper motors rotate through a given angular displacement (in steps of a certain number of degrees) before stopping. In this way, controlled movement of the arm can be affected within a region known as the workspace or workcell.

Depending on the number of limbs and the type and number of joints that the arm possesses, the robot will be described as having a certain number of degrees of freedom of movement. This indicates the dexterity with which the robot can work using tools and workpieces. A typical robot of moderate complexity will have three degrees of freedom including translational movement and a rotating wrist at the end-effector. The term "payload" is used to refer to the mass that the robot is capable of lifting at the end-effectora payload of more than 100 kilograms (220.5 pounds) is not uncommon, and loads that would be beyond the capabilities of most human laborers are no trouble for a suitably structured robot. In addition to handling massive payloads, some specialized robots are able to work with a high degree of precisionmany guarantee accuracy of placement to within a fraction of a millimeter.

Another type of robot is the mobile robot. These offer features that are uncommon to standard industrial robots used on production lines. Instead, mobile robots often propel themselves on wheels or tracks and carry telemetry equipment like video cameras, microphones, and sensors of other types. The information they collect is then encoded and transmitted to a remote receiving station where human operators interpret the information and guide the mobile robot. Mobile robots are often used to handle dangerous goods like explosives, but perhaps the finest example of this type of robot was the Sojourner rover from the Mars Pathfinder Mission of 1997. This small robot demonstrated that it was possible to guide reliably and accurately a small robotic vehicle over the vast distance between Earth and Mars.

Beyond the source of power that is needed to animate the robot, a computer system of some sort is generally employed to control its actions. This system acts in real-time to both command the robot's movements and to monitor its actions to ensure that it is complying with instructions. Command signals are sent to the motors to initiate a movement, and special sensing devices called transducers are used to measure the amount of actual movement. If the actual movement does not correspond to the requested movement, then the computer system is notified and can make further adjustments. This continual measurement of the robot's activities is called feedback and is of the utmost importance in guaranteeing precise control over its movements. Three-dimensional geometry is the primary mathematical approach that is used to specify the dynamics of robots. Matrix representations of rotational and translational motion are the favored way of programming the required movements of the manipulator and the end-effector.

Frequently, one reasonably small computer is responsible for managing the movements of one robot. However, in large installations that contain many robots, it is also necessary to coordinate their collective operations effectively. This means that other computers need to be used in a supervisory role. The supervisory computer system works at a more abstract level, ensuring that overall production processes can be carried out efficiently. It passes down commands to the individual computers linked to the robots, leaving them to carry out the details of each allotted job. As an example, the supervisory computer might take a computer-aided design (CAD) drawing of a complex assembly and separate out various parts from the drawing, for fabrication by a collection of individual robots. The robots can be retooled for these new tasks and then the supervisory computer can dispatch to their computers coordinates and commands for grasping, moving, cutting, milling or whatever else is requireddirectly from the CAD drawings.

The future offers a great deal for robotics technology. Established areas of research are slowly making significant strides toward becoming mainstream. Artificial intelligence and robot vision become closer to being standard features each year. It is also proposed that microscopic robots could be developed using the results of advances in nanotechnology , expanding their current role in medical science, where they already assist in performing surgery.

see also Artificial Intelligence; Digital Logic Design; Nanocomputing; Robotics.

Stephen Murray

Bibliography

Malcolm, Douglas R. Jr. RoboticsAn Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1985.

Shahinpoor, Mohsen. A Robot Engineering Textbook. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.

Snyder, Wesley E. Industrial Robots: Computer Interfacing and Control. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1985.

Internet Resources

Mars Pathfinder. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Jet Propulsion Laboratory. <http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/>

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Robotics

Robotics

Robotics is the science of designing and building machines (robots) that are directed by computers to perform tasks traditionally carried out by humans. The word robot comes from a play written in 1920 by the Czech author Karel Capek. Capek's R.U.R. (for Rossum's Universal Robots) is the story of an inventor who creates humanlike machines designed to take over many forms of human work.

Historical background

The origin of robotics can be traced back to early Egypt, where priests used steam-activated mechanisms to open temple doors. This action helped convince their followers of their "mystical" powers. Ancient Greeks, Chinese, and Ethiopians also experimented with steam-powered devices.

In the late 1700s, Swiss brothers Pierre and Henri Jacquet-Droz created Jacquemarts, spring-powered mannequins that could play musical instruments, draw pictures, write, and strike the hours on clock bells.

In 1892, Seward Babbitt invented the motorized crane that could reach into a furnace, grasp a hot ingot of steel, and place it where directed. Although none of these devises were true robots as we known them today, they represent the first steps of automation and robotics technology.

Robots at work: The present day

Robots have come to play a widespread and crucial role in many industrial operations today. The work that robots do can be classified into three major categories: the assembly and finishing of products; the movement of materials and objects; and the performance of work in environmentally difficult or hazardous situations.

Assembly and finishing of products. The most common single application of robots is in welding. About one-quarter of all robots used by industry have this function. Welding robots can have a variety of appearances, but they tend to consist of one large arm that can rotate in various directions. At the end of the arm is a welding gun that actually forms the weld between two pieces of metal.

Closely related types of work now done by robots include cutting, grinding, polishing, drilling, sanding, painting, spraying, and otherwise treating the surface of a product. As with welding, activities of this kind are usually performed by one-armed robots that hang from the ceiling, project outward from a platform, or reach into a product from some other angle.

Another example in which robots have replaced humans in industrial operations is on the assembly line. In many industrial plants today, the assembly line of humans has been replaced by an assembly line of robots that does the same job, but more safely and more efficiently.

Movement of materials. Many industrial operations involve the lifting and moving of large, heavy objects over and over again. One way to perform these operations is with heavy machinery operated by human workers. But another method that is more efficient and safer is to substitute robots for the human-operated machinery.

An experimental type of heavy-duty robot is an exoskeletona metallic contraption that surrounds a human worker. The human can step inside the exoskeleton, placing his or her arms and legs into the corresponding

limbs of the exoskeleton. By operating the exoskeleton's controls, the human can magnify his or her strength many times, picking up and handling objects that would otherwise be much too heavy to lift.

Hazardous or remote-duty robots. Robots are commonly used in places where humans can go only at risk to their own health or where they cannot go at all. Industries where nuclear materials are used often make use of robots so that human workers are not exposed to the dangerous effects of radiation.

Robots have also been useful in space research. In 1976, the space probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 landed on the planet Mars. These two probes were some of the most complex and sophisticated robots ever built. Their job was to analyze the planet's surface. They did so by using a long arm to dig into the ground and take out samples of Martian soil. The soil samples were then transported to one of three chemical laboratories within the robot, where the soil underwent automated chemical analysis. The results of these analyses were then transmitted to receiving stations on Earth.

How more complex robots work

Sophisticated robots are able to imitate some of the actions of humans because of three key components. First, they are able to respond to changes in the world around them by using visual or tactile (touch) sensors to obtain information. Second, they have a set of instructions (a program) implanted in their computer-brain giving them a core base of knowledge. Third, they are able to combine information from their senses with that in their computer-brain to make decisions and perform actions.

Robots of the future?

In early 2001, scientists at a U.S. government national security laboratory provided a glimpse of the possible future of robots when they showed off what is perhaps the world's smallest robot. The diminutive robot weighs less than 1 ounce (28 grams) and is 0.25 cubic inch (4 cubic centimeters) in size. It can stop and almost sit on a dime. It sports track wheels similar to those on a tank and has an 8K ROM processor. The robot can be equipped with a camera, microphone, and a chemical micro-sensor, and in the future it may carry a miniature video camera and infrared or radio wireless two-way communications equipment. Scientist hope the robot (and others like it) may someday be used to perform a host of arduous tasks like disabling land mines or searching for lost humans. It could even be used in intelligence gathering.

[See also Artificial intelligence; Automation ]

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Robotics

ROBOTICS

ROBOTICS. Several centuries ago, people envisioned and created mechanical automata. The development of digital computers, transistors, integrated circuits, and miniaturized components during the mid-to late twentieth century enabled electrical robots to be designed and programmed. Robotics is the use of programmable machines that gather information about their environment, interpret instructions, and perform repetitive, time-intensive, or physically demanding tasks as a substitute for human labor. Few Americans interact closely with robotics but many indirectly benefit from the use of industrial robotics.

American engineers at universities, industries, and government agencies have led advancements in robotic innovations. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Research Laboratory Director Rodney A. Brooks stated that by 2020 robots would have human qualities of consciousness. His robot, Genghis, was built with pyroelectric sensors on its six legs. Interacting with motors, the sensors detected infrared radiation such as body heat, causing Genghis to move toward or away from that stimulus and to appear to be acting in a predatory way. Interested in the role of vision, Brooks devised robots to move through cluttered areas. He programmed


his robots to look for clear routes instead of dealing with obstructions.

Because they are small, maneuverable, and invulnerable to smoke and toxins, robots are used during disaster recovery and to defuse explosives and detect radiation. After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, robots entered the World Trade Center rubble in search of victims and to transmit video images to rescuers. Robotic sensors are sensitive to ultrasonic waves, magnetic fields, and gases undetectable to humans. Some robots are used for airport security screening of luggage. Military robotic applications include the prototype robotic plane, the X-45, which was introduced in 2002 for combat service. Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) flying insect robots were programmed to conduct military reconnaissance, filming enemy sites.

Other uses of robotics include robotic surgical tools inserted through small incisions. These robotics are steadier and more precise than humans. Engineers have devised ways for robots to have tactile abilities to palpate tissues undergoing surgery with pressure sensors.

The space shuttle is equipped with a robotic arm to retrieve and deploy satellites. The International Space Station (ISS) utilizes a 58-foot robotic arm for construction. The robotic Skyworker was developed to maintain the completed ISS. Engineers envisioned a future robotic space shuttle. The Sojourner robotic rover traversed Mars in 1997, and later missions prepared more sophisticated robots to send to that planet.

People have controlled telerobotics via the Internet. The iRobot-LE moves according to remote controls, enabling observers to monitor their homes with their work computers. Engineers have programmed robotic lawn-mowers and vacuum cleaners. Robotic toys such as Sony's companionable AIBO dog have appealed to consumers. Inspired by RoboCup robotic soccer matches, enthusiasts have planned to develop humanoid robots to compete against human teams.

As computer processors have become faster and more powerful, robotics has advanced. Some researchers have investigated biorobotics, combining biological and engineering knowledge to explore animals' cognitive functions. Evolutionary robotics has studied autonomous robots being automatically refined based on performance fulfillment and evidence of desired skills and traits.

Researchers have programmed robots to master numerous tasks, make decisions, and perform more efficiently. Engineers, such as those working on the Honda Humanoid Project, have aspired to create universal robots, which have similar movement, versatility, and intelligence as humans. Hans Moravec, director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, hypothesized that robots will attain the equivalent of human intelligence by 2040.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brooks, Rodney A. Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us. New York: Pantheon Books, 2002.

Dorigo, Marco, and Marco Colombetti. Robot Shaping : An Experiment in Behavior Engineering. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998.

Goldberg, Ken, ed. The Robot in the Garden: Telerobotics and Telepistemology in the Age of the Internet. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.

———, and Roland Siegwart, eds. Beyond Webcams: An Introduction to Online Robots. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002.

Menzel, Peter, and Faith D'Aluisio. Robo Sapiens: Evolution of a New Species. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.

Moravec, Hans P. Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Nolfi, Stefano, and Dario Floreano. Evolutionary Robotics: The Biology, Intelligence, and Technology of Self-Organizing Machines. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.

Rosheim, Mark E. Robot Evolution: The Development of Anthrobotics. New York: Wiley, 1994.

Schraft, Rolf-Dieter, and Gernot Schmierer. Service Robots. Na-tick, Mass.: A. K. Peters, 2000.

Webb, Barbara, and Thomas R. Consi, eds. Biorobotics: Methods and Applications. Menlo Park, Calif.: AAAI Press/MIT Press, 2001.

Elizabeth D.Schafer

See alsoArtificial Intelligence ; Automation .

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robotics

robotics, science and technology of general purpose, programmable machine systems. Contrary to the popular fiction image of robots as ambulatory machines of human appearance capable of performing almost any task, most robotic systems are anchored to fixed positions in factories where they perform a flexible, but restricted, number of operations in computer-aided manufacturing. Such a system minimally contains a computer to control operations and effecters, devices that perform the desired work. Additionally, it might have sensors and auxiliary equipment or tools under its control. Some robots are relatively simple mechanical machines that perform a dedicated task such as welding or spray painting. Other more complex, multitask systems use sensory systems to gather information needed to control its work. A robot's sensors might provide tactile feedback, so that it can pick up objects and place them properly, without damaging them. Another robot sensory system might include a form of machine vision that can detect flaws in manufactured goods. Some robots used to assemble electronic circuit boards can place odd-sized components in the proper location after visually locating positioning marks on the board. The simplest form of mobile robots, used to deliver mail in office buildings or to gather and deliver parts in manufacturing, follow the path of a buried cable or a painted line, stopping whenever their sensors detect an object or person in their path. More complex mobile robots are used in more unstructured environments such as mining.

See H. Moravec, Mind Children (1988); R. C. Dorf, Concise International Encyclopedia of Robotics (1990); J. T. Black, The Design of the Factory with a Future (1991).

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Robots in Our Own Image

ROBOTS IN OUR OWN IMAGE

Many robots are anthropomorphicthey look, act, or seem like humans. Scientists and engineers often design robots to look like humans or other animals. Building machines to operate autonomously is a daunting task, so researchers start with animals and people as models because they are examples of working mechanisms.

The first robot manipulator was built to look and function like an arm. The first mobile robot had a human-like "head." Most legged robots walk with gaits copied from mammals, insects, or lizards. Many sensors are designed to use the same information that humans use: cameras and computer vision allow the robot to "see"; whiskers and contact switches allow the robot to "feel"; and researchers are even working on electronic devices that will allow robots to "smell."

However, robots do not have to be anthropomorphic. Since engineers design robots from scratch, they can be tailored for whatever job they are doing. Thus, a pipe-cleaning robot could have clamps that allow it to crawl along a pipe. Many robots have "range sensors" that permit them to tell the exact distance between it and another object.

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robot

robot or automaton (ôtäm´ətän´) mechanical device designed to perform the work generally done by a human being. The Czech dramatist Karel Čapek popularized the expression [Czech,=compulsory labor] in his play R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), produced in Prague in 1921. Modern robotics has produced innumerable devices that replace human personnel, and the term robot is used to designate much of this machinery. Although most so-called robots use software to operate independently of direct human control, the term is also used for vehicles and other machines that are remotely controlled by a human operator. The word also is used frequently in fiction, referring to a self-controlling machine shaped like a human being. While the concept has been the subject of stories since the golem of medieval times, it reached its greatest exposure in popular culture with the work of Isaac Asimov in the 1950s and the motion picture robots Robby in Forbidden Planet (1956) and C-3PO in Star Wars (1977).

See G. Wood, Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life (2002).

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robotics

robotics A discipline overlapping artificial intelligence and mechanical engineering. It is concerned with building robots: programmable devices consisting of mechanical actuators and sensory organs that are linked to a computer. The mechanical structure might involve manipulators, as in industrial robotics, or might concern the movement of the robot as a vehicle, as in mobile robotics. Robotics research is used in artificial intelligence as a framework for exploring key problems and techniques through a well-defined application.

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robot

ro·bot / ˈrōˌbät; ˈrōbət/ • n. a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, esp. one programmable by a computer. ∎  (esp. in science fiction) a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically. ∎  used to refer to a person who behaves in a mechanical or unemotional manner: terminally bored tour guides chattering like robots.

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"robot." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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robot

robot (especially in science fiction) a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically. The term (from Czech robota ‘forced labour’) was coined in K. Čapek's play R.U.R. ‘Rossum's Universal Robots’ (1920).

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robotics

ro·bot·ics / rōˈbätiks/ • pl. n. [treated as sing.] the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots. DERIVATIVES: ro·bot·i·cist / -ˈbätəsist/ n.

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robot

robot Automated machine used to carry out various tasks. Robots are often computer-controlled, the most common type having a single arm that can move in any direction. Such robots are used in mass production. See also artificial intelligence (AI); automation

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robot

robot mechanism doing the work of a man, automaton. XX. — Czech, f. robota compulsory service.

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"robot." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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robot

robotallot, begot, Bernadotte, blot, bot, capot, clot, cocotte, cot, culotte, dot, forgot, garrotte (US garrote), gavotte, got, grot, hot, jot, knot, lot, Mayotte, motte, not, Ott, outshot, plot, pot, rot, sans-culotte, Scot, Scott, shallot, shot, slot, snot, sot, spot, squat, stot, swat, swot, tot, trot, twat, undershot, Wat, Watt, what, wot, yacht •robot • hotshot • peridot • microdot •Wyandot • polka dot • fylfot • mascot •Caldecott • carrycot • apricot •boycott • dovecote • sandlot • melilot •polyglot • Camelot • ocelot •monoglot • sub-plot • Lancelot •cachalot • counterplot • Wilmot •guillemot • motmot • bergamot

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