What is Robotics?

articulated-robot-for-the-plastics-industry-14494.jpgRobotics is the study of design, manufacture, and uses of robots. Robotics involves scientists called a roboticists with knowledge of electronics, mechanics and software. The roboticists should have a large working knowledge of many subjects.

The word robot has several meanings, the most common of which is "a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (as walking or talking) of a human being". Also, a robot can be described as a machine whose lack of capacity for human emotions is often emphasized. Robots can automatically perform complicated, repetitive tasks, and are guided by automatic controls.

Components of Robots
This robotic arm can perform many functions in the modern world.

What makes robots tick?

· ”Brain” of robot
· Allows parts to operate together
· Works as computer
· Allows robot to be connected to other systems
· Runs written instructions written as code called a program

Robot Arm
· Can vary in size and shape
· Positions the end effector
· Contains the shoulder, wrist, and elbow
· Moves up and down, left and right, and forward and backward

End Effector
· Connects to the arm and functions as a hand
· Variations include:

· Vacuum pump
· Tweezers
· Scalpel
· Welding torch
· Engine or motor that moves the links to designated positions
· Types of drives:

· Hydraulic
Give robot great speed and strength
· Electric
-Provides robot with less speed and strength

· Pneumatic
- Used for smaller robots

· Allow robot to receive feedback about its environment
· Give robot limited sense of light and sound
· Collects info and sends it electronically to controller
· Assist end effectors by adjusting for part variances


From the beginning of time people have wanted machines that can work independently of human interaction. Robots can be found in many ancient legends throughout the world especially Greek Mythology and ancient China. As ideas in robotics grew, more planning and designing was done. In the Middle Ages, Leonardo De Vinci sketched a complex automaton; however these designs were not found until the 1950’s when they were used as the basis of future ideas. As other parts of technology have become even more advanced, robots have been rapidly increasing in popularity and complexity. Today we even see robots used not only in complex industrial sites but even as toys used by children. As time continues and the mysteries of robotics are further revealed, we look forward to many unknown inventions soon to come.

This is a Starfish robot, a 4-legged robot capable of self modeling and learning to walk after having been damaged.
350 B.C. : The first Robot ever invented was made by Archytas, and is a mechanical pidgeon powered by steam.
200 B.C. : Greek physicist Ctesibus designs water clocks that have movable figures on them
1495 : Leonardo DaVinci creates plans for a suit of armor with robotic parts inside, giving it the ability to move somewhat like a human, but it is unknown if Leonardo's robot was ever actually built.
1533 :Johannes Müller von Königsberg created a mechanized eagle and, and both could fly
1738 : Jacques de Vaucanson begins building automata in Grenoble, France, builds three separate automatons, two which can play instruments and one which is a duck that can eat and digest.
1770 : Pierre Jaquet-Droz builds robots for European royalty, with such actions as Drawing, writing, and play music
1779 : Samuel Crompton's Spinning Mule was a fully automated power driven spinning machine that could spin thousands of threads at once
1898 : Nikola Tesla builds and shows a remote controlled robotic boat at Madison Square Garden, New York.
1921: Karel Čapek introduced the word “Robot” in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). The word robot comes from the Czech word “robota” meaning “compulsory labor.”
1926: The first robot, “Maria” is released to the silver screen in the movie “Metropolis”.
1936: Alan Turing introduces the concept of the Turing machine, a theoretical computer. It was a fundamental advance in computer logic.
1940: Isaac Asimov produces a series about robots for Super Science Stories magazines. His stories were eventually made into “I, Robot”.
Issac’s most important contribution to the history of the robot is the creation of his Three Laws of Robotics.
1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, though inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given by a human being except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
He later adds “Zeroth Law” to the list:
A robot may not injure humanity, or, though inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
1948: “Cybernetics” was published by Norbert Wiener and it influenced artificial intelligence research.
William Grey Walter invented robots Elmer and Elsie that mimic lifelike behavior.
1950: Alan Turing publishes Computing Machinery and Intelligence in which he proposes a test to see if a machine has the power to think for itself. The test is know as the “Turing test”.
1954: George Devol Jr. developed the multijointed artificial arm, which lead to the modern robots.
1956: John McCarthy, Marvin Mindky, Nat Tochester, and Claude Shannon organize The Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation . The term “artificial intelligence” is made.
1959: Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy start the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
1962: The Unimate, the first industrial arm, was designed to complete repetitive or dangerous tasks on a General Motors assembly line.
1966: Shakey, the first mobile robot to know and react to its own actions is created by The Stanford Research Institute (SRI Technology).
1966: Joseph Weisonbaum at MIT creates ELIZA. ELIZA is an artificial intelligence program that functions as a computer psychologist and manipulates its users’ statements to form questions.
1968: Arthur C. Clark’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is made into a movie by Stanley Kubrick. It tells about HAL who is an onboard computer that decides it no longer needs any of its human counterparts.
1969: The Stanford Arm, which is a standard that still influences the designs of robotic arms today, was created by Victor Scheinman. Victor was a Mechanical Engineering student working in the Stanford Intelligence Lab (SAIL).
1970: Stanford University creates the Stanford Cart that is designed to be a line follower that can also be controlled by a computer via radio link.
1974: Victor Sheinman forms his own company and starts selling the Silver Arm that has the ability to assemble small parts using touch sensors.
1976: The Soft Gripper, designed to wrap around an object like a snake, is created by Shigeo Hirose at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
1977: Deep space explorers Voyagers 1 and 2 are launched from Kennedy Space Flight Center.
1979: The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University is established.
1979: The Stanford Cart is rebuilt and experimented with by Hans Moravec. It is used in experiments with 3D environment mapping.
1981: Takeo Kanade creates the direct drive arm. The arm has motors that are installed into its joints making it faster with more accurate movement.
1986: LEGO and the MIT Media Lab collaborate to bring the first LEGO based educational products to market.
1986: A robotic research program is started by Honda. Honda stated that the robot “should coexist and cooperate with human beings, by doing what a person cannot do and by cultivating a new dimension in mobility to ultimately benefit society.”
1989: The Mobile Robots Group at MIT release Genghis, a walking robot.
1992: In an attempt to build a radio controlled vacuum cleaner, Marc Thorpe has the idea to start a robot combat event.
1992: The concept of CyberKnife is introduced by Dr. John Adler. CyberKnife is a robot that uses x-rays to look for tumors in patients and deliver a pre-planned dose of radiation to the tumor.
1993: Dante, an 8-legged walking robot developed at Carnegie Mellon University, descends into Mt. Erebrus, Antarctica. Its mission was to collect data from the harsh environment; however, it failed and fell into the crater.
1994: Dante II descends into the crater of Mt. Spurr, an Alaskan volcano. This mission was said to be a success.
1994: Robot Wars is started at Fort Mason in San Francisco, CA, by Marc Thorpe. It is continued in the next year as an annual event.
1996: A RoboTuna is designed and built by David Barrett for his doctoral thesis at MIT. The RoboTuna studies the way fish swim.
1996: The “flatulence engine” Gastrobot is created by Chris Campbell and Stuart Wilkinson. It digests organic mass to produce Carbon Dioxide used for power.
1996: Honda debuts the P3. It is the product of the decade long effort to build a humanoid robot.
1997: The first node of the International Space Station is placed in orbit which is later joined by more components.
1997: The Pathfinder Mission lands on Mars. Its robotic rover Sojourner rolls down a ramp and onto Martian soil in early July and continues to broadcast data until September.
1998: Furby is introduced by Tiger Electronics during the Christmas season. The “animatronic pet” reacts to its environment and communicates using over 800 phrases in English and its own language “Furbish”.
1998: The LEGO line of MINDSTORMS in released as the first Robotics Invention System.
1999: LEGO releases The Robotics Discovery Set , Droid Developer Kit, and the Robotics Invention System 1.5.
1999: SONY releases the AIBO robotic pet.
2000: Honda releases a human-like robot named ASIMO, which can react to its environment.
2000: battle bots tournament in Las Vegas, where people make robots that fight other robots and destroy them.
2000: LEGO releases Lego Mindstorms Robotic Invention System, which allows the average person to make a basic robot that could move.
2001: Lego releases Mindstorms Ultimate Builders Set, which allowed the average person to ma
Over the years, robots have been continuously advancing and will continue to be.
Over the years, robots have been continuously advancing and will continue to be.
ke more complicated robots that could do basic functions.
2002: ASIMO rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
2003: June 10th NASA launches MER-A “Spirit” rover destined for Mars.
2003: July 7th NASA launches the MER-B “opportunity”
2006: Cornell University revealed its "Starfish" robot, a 4-legged robot capable of self modeling and learning to walk.
2007: Google announced the releases its Lunar X Prize which offers 30 million dollars to the first private company which lands a rover on the moon and sends images back to earth.
2007: TOMY launched the entertainment robot, i-sobot, which is a humanoid bipedal robot that can walk like a human being and performs kicks and punches, as well as some entertaining tricks.

Present Uses

Most of the uses of robotics today are for specific tasks such as handling dangerous chemicals, manufacturing products faster, exploring the oceanexternal image Herzschrittmacher_auf_Roentgenbild.jpg, helping out in surgeries, and exploring space. Robots such as the pacemaker and the Dura Heart machine are placed within a person’s body to help keep them alive and healthy. Robots are often used for jobs humans cannot do, such as welding industrial materials. They are also used for jobs that are to dangerous for humans, such as bomb testing and detonation.
The invention of robotics has changed the way that automobiles and many other products are manufactured. Robots are helping to manufacture not only huge expensive objects, but they are also helping package many smaller products such as food and electronics. Robotics produce products faster than by hand and more efficiently. Robots are doing the dangerous and dirty jobs. Workers are also worried that robots will replace their jobs. Although robotics take the dirty and dangerous work away, they will never be able to take all of the work away. People will still have to program the robots and run the robots. Some people may use their jobs due to robots. Although robots do not have to be paid for the work that they do, they are very expensive to buy. Robots are very efficient, but when they need maintenance, it can be very expensive. There are many positive outcomes of using robots in manufacturing, but also many negative outcomes.
In today’s world, saving lives and keeping lives out of harms way is a huge priority, especially for the military. Using robots instead of soldiers for certain tasks allows for a much safer operation. With the use of robots, soldiers can perform many dangerous tasks without having to be near the hazard. The military already has robots in combat that serve purposes such as these.
The Predator Drone, for example, is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is remote controlled. It can be used to take pictures for surveillance or fire missiles at targets on the ground. The Drone is able to do all this without a human in the cockpit; this is much safer and removes the risk factor.
MIDARS are four wheeled robots that are equipped with cameras, radar, and a possible firearm. MIDARS can be programmed to do pre-programmed or random patrols around a military installation, and it can detect any unauthorized movement and report it. Another robot that keeps soldiers safe is a mine sweeper robot. These robots are relatively simple, but completely necessary. They are essentially a tractor with several dangling chains that hit the ground to explode hidden mines. They use simple algorithms and GPS to cover the area that might be unsafe. These high tech robots make it much easier and safer for soldiers overseas.
One project currently in progress is the Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System. This system has been worked on by the U.S. military since 2005 and is expected to have a test flight sometime in 2009. This system consists of a remote controlled sniper rifle mounted on an autonomous helicopter. It is intended for urban combat and to reduce human risk.
The Pentagon has already predicted that robots will be a large part of the twenty-first century’s fighting force. Many robotic breakthroughs are currently underway to be put into use within the next decade. The single largest military contract to date is called a Future Combat System, which is dedicated to making robots that can manage in combat. The contract is worth $127 billon.

A robot working on making a car.

There is a newer field of robotics in which a robot is designed to perform more than one task, opening up new possibilities for robotic servants and more human like robots. These robots are known as general purpose autonomous robots. This field is still in its beginning stages, though the future will probably yield much progress in this direction.

Major Producers of Robots

  • AquaMonster - Dolphin and Wizard automatic pool cleaners, pool robot and vacuum.
  • Boston Dynamics - Designs and builds walking robots for research and demonstrations, offers consulting on robotics and on simulation software.
  • CoroWare - Provides robotics integration and embedded systems development services.
  • Evolution Robotics - Maker of ER1 robot kit. Also provide embedded hardware/software to OEMs for robot navigation and vision.
  • Hitech Robotic Systemz Inc. - Provides solutions for robotics, embedded systems, computer vision, machine learning, sensor networks, autonomous vehicles, reconnaissance, surveillance and security. Based in Haryana, India.
  • Innovation First, Inc. - Suppliers of educational robot kits and components as well as components for FIRST robotics teams.
  • iRobot Corporation- Leading provider of mobile robots for the consumer market, including the iRobot-LE home robot, Hasbro's My Real Baby doll, and a full line of robots for the research community.
  • MobileRobots, Inc. - Provides indoor/outdoor mobile robots to corporations, government and research institutions worldwide.
  • Mobot, Inc - Provides autonomous mobile robots for entertainment and education applications.
  • Mr. Robot- Online store offering robots, robot kits, microcontrollers, sensors, and other robot components.
  • Robot Factory - Promotional Robots - Manufacturer of robotic devices for education, entertainment, advertising and promotion since 1966. Large variety of robot characters and custom robots available.
  • Robot MarketPlace - Parts for robots. Focus is on combat robots (BattleBots, Robot Wars, etc), but hobby robots are also available. Online store include motors, Batteries, electronics, kits, toys, and books.

Types of Robots

A Cartesian robot, also known as a gantry robot is used for pick and place work (picking stuff up and putting it back down), applying sealant, assembly operations, handling machine tools and welding heavy metal. These robots’ arms have three prismatic joints, whose axes are coincident with a Cartesian coordinator.
A cylindrical robot is used for assembly operations, handling at machine tools, welding in centralized areas, and handling at die-cas ting machines. Cylindrical robots have axes that form a cylindrical coordinate system.
A spherical robot (also known as a polar robot) is used for handling heavy machine tools, spot welding, die-casting, fettling machines, gas welding and arc welding. Spherical robots have axes that form a polar coordinate system.

A SCARA robot

A SCARA robot is used for pick and place work, applying of sealant, assembly operations and handling heavy machine tools that a person cannot operate. It is a robot that has two parallel rotary joints which provide compliance in a plane.
Articulated robots are used for assembly operations, die-casting, fettling machines, gas welding, arc welding and spray painting (generally cars). It is a robot whose arm has at least three rotary joints for a wide range of motions.
A parallel robot has several uses; one use is a mobile platform handling cockpit flight simulators. It is a robot whose arms have concurrent prismatic or rotary joints.
Industrial robots are found in a variety of locations including the automobile and manufacturing industries. Robots cut and shape parts, assemble machinery and inspect manufactured parts. Robots do several jobs, including loading bricks, die casting, drilling, fastening, forging, making glass, heat treating, loading or unloading mac​hines, making machine parts, handling parts, measuring very accurately, monitoring radiation, sorting parts, cleaning parts, perform quality control tests, riveting, sand blasting, and welding.
Outside the manufacturing world robots perform many other important jobs. They can be found in hazardous duty service (military, scientific testing), CAD/CAM design and prototyping, maintenance jobs, fire fighting, medical applications, military warfare and even on farms across the world.
Farmers drive several million miles every year on the same ground on their slow tractors. Their land is generally gentle and flat, and most robot navigation techniques can be applied to this environment. A robot agricultural harvester named Demeter is a model for commercializing mobile robotics technology. The Demeter harvester contains controllers, positioners, safeguards, and task software specialized to the many needs of commercial agriculture.
Some robots are used to investigate hazardous and dangerous environments, such as volcanoes and nuclear reactors. The Pioneer robot is a remote reconnaissance system for structural analysis of the Chernobyl Unit 4 reactor building. Its major components are a teleoperated mobile robot for deploying its many sensors and sampling payloads, a GPS for creating photorealistic 3D models of the building interior, a coreborer for cutting and retrieving samples of structural materials, and an array of radiation and other environmental sensors.

See also:

The Aerospace Robotics Corporation, or ARC, is the leading company in Aerospace Technology. Most ARC products run of satellites and other space to earth transmitting devices.
The Aerospace Robotics Industry is growing rapidly. In order to keep up with other competitors, ARC has devised a new project with the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and France. This project will consist of a series of satellites that detect geothermal heat from the earth and will be able to Alert authorities faster than ever before.
Air travel companies have come to ARC in search of ways to make air travel more comfortable and safer for their crews and passengers. ARC has devised a way to monitor air speed, and any interference with the weather that might need to be avoided for a safer flight, to provide maximum comfort for the airline. They also accomplish this with the use of satellites.

Service Robots: The Japanese are in the forefront in these types of robots. This category of robot consists of any robot that is used outside an industrial facility. They can be divided into two main types of robots: one, robots used for professional jobs, and two, robots used for personal use.

Personal use robots are becoming more and more popular. With advances in Artificial Intelligence and better affordability robots are becoming increasingly common in areas like care giving, pet robots, house cleaning and entertainment. It is more expensive and difficult to make highly intelligent robots, but robots with minimal intelligence are easy to make and fairly common, such as the vacuum cleaning robots.

Robots assisting the handicapped range from automatic wheelchairs, which carry the occupant around a hospital in response to voice commands, to robots who feed handicapped people who cannot feed themselves. The main goal of this research is to make machines restore some of the autonomy the user lost when he or she lost the use of his bodily functions.

Developers of these systems face severe money shortages. The market products for the disabled are small, and often the disabled cannot afford to pay high prices. Thus, there is very little promotion from capitalist economics to do this kind of research. Currently, most of the development work is government sponsored, or done by volunteers.

Future Uses for Robotics

The future of robots in the medical profession is greatly focused on robotic surgeons. Medical robotic surgeons will not be used for every type of surgical external image Robotic%20surgery_clip_image001_0000.jpgprocedure, or on every patient. Current medical robotic users are developing their skills, and searching for surgical procedures that have increased patient benefits such as increased surgical accuracy, decreased operating times, shorter hospital stays, and fewer complications when compared to the standard current surgical approaches. Many places are currently attempting to add a "fourth arm" to their robotic surgical systems. In addition to the two robotic arms that hold and control the surgical instruments that perform surgery, and a third robotic arm that holds and controls the camera that provides for images inside the patient, this fourth arm would provide the operating surgeon with a third arm which can hold an instrument to pull back patient tissues or a suture. This provides the operating surgeon with more flexibility in maneuvering patient tissues to access the surgical location, without depending on the assistance of the patient-side surgeon. Training simulators using virtual reality technology will be available to enable the surgeon to develop basic skills for use with robotic surgical systems, as well as practice a certain procedure on a computer-generated image of a particular patient's anatomy before actually performing the procedure in the operating room. The use of telemanipulators for holding laparoscopic instruments such as diathermy hooks and micro scissors is more complex, but projects are in progress for developing efficient, safe, easy workstations for examining the internal organs of a patient.

Surgery is not the only area robotics will play a medical part in. Jacob Rosen is developing a wearable robotic "exoskeleton" that could permit a person to lift heavy objects with little effort. It's a little bit like the robotic armor that many science fiction movies have used for so long. But what motivates Rosen is the device's potential to help people disabled by stroke or degenerative diseases. "People with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disabilities could use the exoskeleton to amplify their muscle strength, and it could also be used for rehabilitation and physical therapy," said Rosen, an associate professor of computer engineering in the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

US military

Project Alpha is a group of Joint forces command in the U.S. that is working on creating robots that would be able to replace many things solders do on the battle field. This is named, Unmanned Effects: Taking the Human out of the Loop. It is believed that by 2025 robots will be the normal thing to see when fighting a war.
“We call them tactical autonomous combatants because they’ll operate largely autonomously with some limited human supervision,” explained Johnson. “We’re talking about, where we can and where we have the capability of replacing humans. We’re not talking about the operational level or strategic level, but at the tactical level, still using humans where we need to. Using adjustable autonomy or supervised autonomy, humans will still have to interact with the machines and help guide them.”
The robots will have many advantages above human soldiers. According to Johnson the robots will be, “more lethal, more mobile, and more survivable.” At first the robots will be controlled by remote. Then as technology grows we hope to give them the ability to react and reason out problems based on a set code of instructions and orders. They should be able to react like human soldiers, but look like little toy trucks or other non human shapes. They will also not disobey orders. The robots will not fear, will never get hungry, or tired. They are also cheaper to make, once we are able to mass produce them, then it would be to pay minimum wage for human robots.
Robots will take many forms according to the jobs in which they will perform. Dr. Russ external image 0209feat1a.pngRichards, the projects director, assures us that the robots will not look like humans. They may take the form of vehicles for mobility, planes, or insects. They may take the shape of animals in order to camouflage them selves to their surrounds. Improving the shape and size of the robots will all depend on what the robot will need to do and how far technology will take us.

Uses In Cars One use of robotics that may be very common in the near feature is that of the robotic car. Many companies have been developing automatic automobiles for some time now, and they are beginning to show promise in the field. The Japanese car company Nissan has been developing software for cars based on the behavior of fish as they travel in schools. They base their technology on three rules: 1. avoiding crashes; 2. traveling side by side; 3. keeping close to other members of the school. They so far have made a small prototype to test the technology, a group of small, oddly-shaped bots called the Eporos. The little robots use laser range finders and ultra-wideband radio to find obstacles and communicate the location to each other. Nissan also demonstrated futuristic accident-avoidable tech in the BR23C, another robot who uses technology based on the way bees function. It avoids obstacles by decelerating and rotating around the obstacle.
The MIT Smart Cities research team has also begun developing a robotic car for urban environments. It use is based on that of shopping carts. The small cars are stacked at different locations around a city, and anyone can take one to drive to other stacks. The cars wheels turn 360 degrees like the wheels of a computer chair, allowing the body of the car to turn in any direction while still driving in any direction. The car’s wheels use electrical robotics, which the team calls wheel robots. This removes the need for a drive shaft and even an engine. With these wheel robots, the cars will be lightweight, speedy, inexpensive, and best of all-- pollution-free.


The future of robotics in the world of entertainment will be shocking. Children will get to experience the most animated and realistic toys that have the most advanced technology involved in the making. Not only will the robotics be able to move more realistically, but they will also be able to form what seems like a personality. The robotics will be able to mimic human activity to seem as if it has its very own personality. The future of the robotic building will consist of chip technology. The earliest robots were created in the image of a dog. Therefore, the future will have a similar idea. Pleo is a rather new robotic that was created in a dinosaur form. It’s a very advanced robot that will soon be sold on television. Most future robots will be for children and will be motion activated. Another robot that is coming to sale soon is called Zeno. The boy robot can see, talk, hear, and remember. The robot can not only walk, but it can also learn and become smarter. The robots in the future will be very advanced and a big step up in technology overall. Computers advancing in the future will most likely only consist of faster speed and greater memory to store more items. However, it will be a while until we have robots interact with us in full conversations.

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