Robotics

Robotics

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Robotics is the branch of technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robot
Robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

s. Robotics is related to the science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

s of electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, mechanics
Mechanics
Mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the behavior of physical bodies when subjected to forces or displacements, and the subsequent effects of the bodies on their environment....

 mechatronics
Mechatronics
Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, computer engineering, software engineering, control engineering, and systems design engineering in order to design, and manufacture useful products. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering, that is...

, and software
Computer software
Computer software, or just software, is a collection of computer programs and related data that provide the instructions for telling a computer what to do and how to do it....

.

The concept and creation of machines that could operate autonomously dates back to classical times, but research into the functionality and potential uses of robots did not grow substantially until the 20th century. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as we continue to research, design, and build new robots that serve various practical purposes, whether domestically
Domestic robot
A domestic robot is a robot used for household chores. Thus far, there are only a few limited models, though science fiction writers and other speculators have suggested that they could become more common in the future...

, commercially
Industrial robot
An industrial robot is defined by ISO as an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes...

, or militarily
Military robot
Military robots are autonomous robots or remote-controlled devices designed for military applications.Such systems are currently being researched by a number of militaries.-History:...

.

Etymology


The word robotics was derived from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 writer Karel Čapek
Karel Capek
Karel Čapek was Czech writer of the 20th century.-Biography:Born in 1890 in the Bohemian mountain village of Malé Svatoňovice to an overbearing, emotional mother and a distant yet adored father, Čapek was the youngest of three siblings...

 in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)
R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)
R.U.R. is a 1920 science fiction play in the Czech language by Karel Čapek. R.U.R. stands for Rossum's Universal Robots, an English phrase used as the subtitle in the Czech original. It premiered in 1921 and introduced the word "robot" to the English language and to science fiction as a whole.The...

, which premiered in 1921.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

, the word robotics was first used in print by Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

, in his science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 short story "Liar!
Liar!
"Liar!" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the May 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and was reprinted in the collections I, Robot and The Complete Robot . It was Asimov's third published positronic robot story...

", published in May 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction
Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2011, it is the longest running continuously published magazine of that genre...

. Asimov was unaware that he was coining the term; since the science and technology of electrical devices is electronics, he assumed robotics already referred to the science and technology of robots. In some of Asimov's other works, he states that the first use of the word robotics was in his short story Runaround
Runaround
"Runaround" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, featuring his recurring characters Powell and Donovan. It was written in October 1941 and first published in the March 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction...

(Astounding Science Fiction
Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2011, it is the longest running continuously published magazine of that genre...

, March 1942). However, the word robotics appears in "Liar!"

History



Stories of artificial helpers and companions and attempts to create them have a long history.

The word robot was introduced to the public by the Czech
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 writer Karel Čapek
Karel Capek
Karel Čapek was Czech writer of the 20th century.-Biography:Born in 1890 in the Bohemian mountain village of Malé Svatoňovice to an overbearing, emotional mother and a distant yet adored father, Čapek was the youngest of three siblings...

 in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)
R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)
R.U.R. is a 1920 science fiction play in the Czech language by Karel Čapek. R.U.R. stands for Rossum's Universal Robots, an English phrase used as the subtitle in the Czech original. It premiered in 1921 and introduced the word "robot" to the English language and to science fiction as a whole.The...

, published in 1920. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots creatures who can be mistaken for humans – though they are closer to the modern ideas of androids. Karel Čapek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 in the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

in which he named his brother Josef Čapek
Josef Capek
Josef Čapek was a Czech artist who was best known as a painter, but who was also noted as a writer and a poet. He invented the word robot, which was introduced into literature by his brother, Karel Čapek.- Biography :...

 as its actual originator.

In 1927 the Maschinenmensch
Maschinenmensch
The Maschinenmensch from Metropolis, is a gynoid played by German actress Brigitte Helm in both her robotic and human incarnations...

("machine-human") gynoid
Gynoid
A gynoid is anything which resembles or pertains to the female human form. It is also used in American English medical terminology as a shortening of the term Gynecoid ....

 humanoid robot
Humanoid robot
A humanoid robot or an anthropomorphic robot is a robot with its overall appearance, based on that of the human body, allowing interaction with made-for-human tools or environments. In general humanoid robots have a torso with a head, two arms and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots...

 (also called "Parody", "Futura", "Robotrix", or the "Maria impersonator") was the first and perhaps the most memorable depiction of a robot ever to appear on film was played by German actress Brigitte Helm
Brigitte Helm
Brigitte Helm was a German actress, best remembered for her dual role as Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, in Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis.-Career:...

) in Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

's film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

.

In 1942 the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

 formulated his Three Laws of Robotics
Three Laws of Robotics
The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov and later added to. The rules are introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround", although they were foreshadowed in a few earlier stories...

 and, in the process of doing so, coined the word "robotics" (see details in "Etymology" section below).

In 1948 Norbert Wiener
Norbert Wiener
Norbert Wiener was an American mathematician.A famous child prodigy, Wiener later became an early researcher in stochastic and noise processes, contributing work relevant to electronic engineering, electronic communication, and control systems.Wiener is regarded as the originator of cybernetics, a...

 formulated the principles of cybernetics
Cybernetics
Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...

, the basis of practical robotics.

Fully autonomous robots
Autonomous robot
Autonomous robots are robots that can perform desired tasks in unstructured environments without continuous human guidance. Many kinds of robots have some degree of autonomy. Different robots can be autonomous in different ways...

 only appeared in the second half of the 20th century. The first digitally operated and programmable robot, the Unimate
Unimate
Unimate was the first industrial robot,which worked on a General Motors assembly line at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in Ewing Township, New Jersey, in 1961.It was created by George Devol in the 1950s using his original patents...

, was installed in 1961 to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Commercial and industrial robot
Industrial robot
An industrial robot is defined by ISO as an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes...

s are widespread today and used to perform jobs more cheaply, or more accurately and reliably, than humans. They are also employed in jobs which are too dirty, dangerous, or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

, assembly, packing and packaging, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, safety, and the mass production of consumer and industrial goods.
Date Significance Robot Name Inventor
Third century B.C. and earlier One of the earliest descriptions of automata appears in the Lie Zi text, on a much earlier encounter between King Mu of Zhou
King Mu of Zhou
King Mu of Zhou or King Mu of Chou or Mu Wang or Mu Wang was the fifth sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 976-922 BC or 956-918 BC.-Life:...

 (1023-957 BC) and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an 'artificer'. The latter allegedly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical handiwork.
Yan Shi
First century A.D. and earlier Descriptions of more than 100 machines and automata, including a fire engine, a wind organ, a coin-operated machine, and a steam-powered engine, in Pneumatica and Automata by Heron of Alexandria
Hero of Alexandria
Hero of Alexandria was an ancient Greek mathematician and engineerEnc. Britannica 2007, "Heron of Alexandria" who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt...

Ctesibius
Ctesibius
Ctesibius or Ktesibios or Tesibius was a Greek inventor and mathematician in Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt. He wrote the first treatises on the science of compressed air and its uses in pumps...

, Philo of Byzantium
Philo of Byzantium
Philo of Byzantium , also known as Philo Mechanicus, was a Greek engineer and writer on mechanics, who lived during the latter half of the 3rd century BC...

, Heron of Alexandria, and others
1206 Created early humanoid automata, programmable automaton band Robot band, hand-washing automaton, automated moving peacocks Al-Jazari
Al-Jazari
Abū al-'Iz Ibn Ismā'īl ibn al-Razāz al-Jazarī was a Muslim polymath: a scholar, inventor, mechanical engineer, craftsman, artist, mathematician and astronomer from Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia, who lived during the Islamic Golden Age...

1495 Designs for a humanoid robot Mechanical knight Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

1738 Mechanical duck that was able to eat, flap its wings, and excrete Digesting Duck
Digesting Duck
The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of a duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739. The mechanical duck appeared to have the ability to eat kernels of grain, and to metabolize and defecate them...

Jacques de Vaucanson
Jacques de Vaucanson
Jacques de Vaucanson was a French inventor and artist who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata and machines such as the first completely automated loom.-Early life:...

1898 Nikola Tesla demonstrates first radio-controlled vessel. Teleautomaton Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

1921 First fictional automatons called "robots" appear in the play R.U.R. Rossum's Universal Robots Karel Čapek
Karel Capek
Karel Čapek was Czech writer of the 20th century.-Biography:Born in 1890 in the Bohemian mountain village of Malé Svatoňovice to an overbearing, emotional mother and a distant yet adored father, Čapek was the youngest of three siblings...

1930s Humanoid robot exhibited at the 1939 and 1940 World's Fairs Elektro
Elektro
Elektro is the nickname of a robot built by the Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation in its Mansfield, Ohio facility between 1937 and 1938. Seven feet tall, weighing 265 pounds, humanoid in appearance, he could walk by voice command, speak about 700 words , smoke cigarettes, blow up...

Westinghouse Electric Corporation
Westinghouse Electric (1886)
Westinghouse Electric was an American manufacturing company. It was founded in 1886 as Westinghouse Electric Company and later renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation by George Westinghouse. The company purchased CBS in 1995 and became CBS Corporation in 1997...

1948 Simple robots exhibiting biological behaviors Elsie and Elmer William Grey Walter
William Grey Walter
W. Grey Walter was a neurophysiologist and robotician.-Overview:Walter was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1910. His ancestry was German/British on his father's side, and American/British on his mother's side. He was brought to England in 1915, and educated at Westminster School and afterwards...

1956 First commercial robot, from the Unimation company founded by George Devol
George Devol
George Charles Devol, Jr. was an American inventor who was awarded the patent for Unimate, the first industrial robot. Devol's patent for the first digitally operated programmable robotic arm represented the foundation of the modern robotics industry.As an inventor he had over 40 patents and was...

 and Joseph Engelberger
Joseph Engelberger
Joseph F. Engelberger is a physicist, engineer and entrepreneur who is referred to as the "Father of Robotics". Licensing the original patent awarded to inventor George Devol, Engelberger developed the first industrial robot in the United States, the Unimate, in the 1950s...

, based on Devol's patents
Unimate
Unimate
Unimate was the first industrial robot,which worked on a General Motors assembly line at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in Ewing Township, New Jersey, in 1961.It was created by George Devol in the 1950s using his original patents...

George Devol
George Devol
George Charles Devol, Jr. was an American inventor who was awarded the patent for Unimate, the first industrial robot. Devol's patent for the first digitally operated programmable robotic arm represented the foundation of the modern robotics industry.As an inventor he had over 40 patents and was...

1961 First installed industrial robot. Unimate
Unimate
Unimate was the first industrial robot,which worked on a General Motors assembly line at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in Ewing Township, New Jersey, in 1961.It was created by George Devol in the 1950s using his original patents...

George Devol
George Devol
George Charles Devol, Jr. was an American inventor who was awarded the patent for Unimate, the first industrial robot. Devol's patent for the first digitally operated programmable robotic arm represented the foundation of the modern robotics industry.As an inventor he had over 40 patents and was...

1963 First palletizing robot
Palletizer
right|thumb|250px|Palletizer using roboticsA palletizer or palletiser is a machine which provides automatic means for stacking cases of goods or products on to a pallet. The first palletizer was designed, built, and installed in 1948 by a company formerly known as Lamson Corp. There are specific...

Palletizer Fuji Yusoki Kogyo
1973 First industrial robot
Industrial robot
An industrial robot is defined by ISO as an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes...

 with six electromechanically driven axes
Famulus KUKA Robot Group
KUKA
KUKA is a leading German producer of industrial robots for a variety of industries - from automotive and fabricated metals to food and plastics...

1975 Programmable universal manipulation arm, a Unimation product PUMA
Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly
The PUMA is an industrial robot arm developed by Victor Scheinman at pioneering robot company Unimation...

Victor Scheinman
Victor Scheinman
Victor Scheinman is a pioneer in the field of robotics. He is a graduate of the now-defunct New Lincoln High School in New York. In the late 1950s, and while in high school, Scheinman engineered a speech-to-text machine as a science fair project...


Power source



At present; mostly (lead-acid) batteries
Battery (electricity)
An electrical battery is one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Since the invention of the first battery in 1800 by Alessandro Volta and especially since the technically improved Daniell cell in 1836, batteries have become a common power...

 are used, but potential power sources could be:
  • pneumatic
    Pneumatics
    Pneumatics is a branch of technology, which deals with the study and application of use of pressurized gas to effect mechanical motion.Pneumatic systems are extensively used in industry, where factories are commonly plumbed with compressed air or compressed inert gases...

     (compressed gases)
  • hydraulics (liquids)
  • flywheel energy storage
    Flywheel energy storage
    Flywheel energy storage works by accelerating a rotor to a very high speed and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational energy...

  • organic garbage (through anaerobic digestion
    Anaerobic digestion
    Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. It is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to release energy....

    )
  • faeces (human, animal); may be interesting in a military context as faeces of small combat groups may be reused for the energy requirements of the robot assistant (see DEKA's project Slingshot Stirling engine on how the system would operate)
  • still unproven energy sources: for example Nuclear fusion
    Nuclear fusion
    Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

    , as yet not used in nuclear reactors whereas Nuclear fission is proven (although there are not many robots using it as a power source apart from the Chinese rover tests.).
  • radioactive source (such as with the proposed Ford car of the '50s); to those proposed in movies such as Red Planet
    Red Planet (film)
    Red Planet is a 2000 Technicolor science fiction film directed by Antony Hoffman, starring Val Kilmer and Carrie-Anne Moss. It was released on November 10, 2000.-Plot:...


Actuation


Actuators are like the "muscle
Muscle
Muscle is a contractile tissue of animals and is derived from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells. Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles. Their function is to...

s" of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy
Potential energy
In physics, potential energy is the energy stored in a body or in a system due to its position in a force field or due to its configuration. The SI unit of measure for energy and work is the Joule...

 into movement. By far the most popular actuators are electric motors that spin a wheel or gear, and linear actuators that control industrial robots in factories. But there are some recent advances in alternative types of actuators, powered by electricity, chemicals, or compressed air:

Electric motors


The vast majority of robots use electric motors, often brushed and brushless DC motors in portable robots or AC motors in industrial robots and CNC
Numerical control
Numerical control refers to the automation of machine tools that are operated by abstractly programmed commands encoded on a storage medium, as opposed to controlled manually via handwheels or levers, or mechanically automated via cams alone...

 machines.

Linear actuators


Various types of linear actuators move in and out instead of by spinning, particularly when very large forces are needed such as with industrial robotics. They are typically powered by compressed air (pneumatic actuator
Pneumatic actuator
A pneumatic actuator converts energy into motion. The motion can be rotary or linear, depending on the type of actuator.Some types of pneumatic actuators include:*Tie rod cylinders*Rotary actuators*Grippers...

) or an oil (hydraulic actuator
Hydraulic drive system
A hydraulic drive system is a drive or transmission system that uses pressurized hydraulic fluid to drive hydraulic machinery. The term hydrostatic refers to the transfer of energy from flow and pressure, not from the kinetic energy of the flow....

).

Series elastic actuators


A spring can be designed as part of the motor actuator, to allow improved force control. It has been used in various robots, particularly walking humanoid
Humanoid
A humanoid is something that has an appearance resembling a human being. The term first appeared in 1912 to refer to fossils which were morphologically similar to, but not identical with, those of the human skeleton. Although this usage was common in the sciences for much of the 20th century, it...

 robots.

Air muscles


Pneumatic artificial muscles, also known as air muscles, are special tubes that contract (typically up to 40%) when air is forced inside them. They have been used for some robot applications.

Muscle wire


Muscle wire, also known as Shape Memory Alloy, Nitinol or Flexinol Wire, is a material that contracts slightly (typically under 5%) when electricity runs through it. They have been used for some small robot applications.

Electroactive polymers


EAPs or EPAMs are a new plastic material that can contract substantially (up to 380% activation strain) from electricity, and have been used in facial muscles and arms of humanoid robots, and to allow new robots to float, fly, swim or walk.

Piezo motors


Recent alternatives to DC motors are piezo motor
Piezoelectric motor
A piezoelectric motor or piezo motor is a type of electric motor based upon the change in shape of a piezoelectric material when an electric field is applied. Piezoelectric motors make use of the converse piezoelectric effect whereby the material produces acoustic or ultrasonic vibrations in order...

s or ultrasonic motor
Ultrasonic motor
An ultrasonic motor is a type of electric motor powered by the ultrasonic vibration of a component, the stator, placedagainst another component, the rotor or slider depending on the scheme of operation...

s. These work on a fundamentally different principle, whereby tiny piezoceramic
Piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure...

 elements, vibrating many thousands of times per second, cause linear or rotary motion. There are different mechanisms of operation; one type uses the vibration of the piezo elements to walk the motor in a circle or a straight line. Another type uses the piezo elements to cause a nut to vibrate and drive a screw. The advantages of these motors are nanometer
Nanometre
A nanometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre. The name combines the SI prefix nano- with the parent unit name metre .The nanometre is often used to express dimensions on the atomic scale: the diameter...

 resolution, speed, and available force for their size. These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.

Elastic nanotubes


Elastic nanotubes are a promising artificial muscle technology in early-stage experimental development. The absence of defects in carbon nanotube
Carbon nanotube
Carbon nanotubes are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Nanotubes have been constructed with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1, significantly larger than for any other material...

s enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent, with energy storage levels of perhaps 10 J
Joule
The joule ; symbol J) is a derived unit of energy or work in the International System of Units. It is equal to the energy expended in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one metre , or in passing an electric current of one ampere through a resistance of one ohm for one second...

/cm3 for metal nanotubes. Human biceps could be replaced with an 8 mm diameter wire of this material. Such compact "muscle" might allow future robots to outrun and outjump humans.

Touch


Current robotic and prosthetic hands receive far less tactile information than the human hand. Recent research has developed a tactile sensor array that mimics the mechanical properties and touch receptors of human fingertips. The sensor array is constructed as a rigid core surrounded by conductive fluid contained by an elastomeric skin. Electrodes are mounted on the surface of the rigid core and are connected to an impedance-measuring device within the core. When the artificial skin touches an object the fluid path around the electrodes is deformed, producing impedance changes that map the forces received from the object. The researchers expect that an important function of such artificial fingertips will be adjusting robotic grip on held objects.

Scientists from several European countries
Science and technology in Europe
Europe's achievements in science and technology have been significant and research and development efforts form an integral part of the European economy. Europe has been the home of some of the most prominent researchers in various scientific disciplines, notably physics, mathematics, chemistry and...

 and Israel  developed a prosthetic hand in 2009, called SmartHand, which functions like a real one—allowing patients to write with it, type on a keyboard
Keyboard (computing)
In computing, a keyboard is a typewriter-style keyboard, which uses an arrangement of buttons or keys, to act as mechanical levers or electronic switches...

, play piano and perform other fine movements. The prosthesis has sensors which enable the patient to sense real feeling in its fingertips.

Vision



Computer vision
Computer vision
Computer vision is a field that includes methods for acquiring, processing, analysing, and understanding images and, in general, high-dimensional data from the real world in order to produce numerical or symbolic information, e.g., in the forms of decisions...

 is the science and technology of machines that see. As a scientific discipline, computer vision is concerned with the theory behind artificial systems that extract information from images. The image data can take many forms, such as video sequences and views from cameras.

In most practical computer vision applications, the computers are pre-programmed to solve a particular task, but methods based on learning are now becoming increasingly common.

Computer vision systems rely on image sensors which detect electromagnetic radiation which is typically in the form of either visible light
Visible spectrum
The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation in this range of wavelengths is called visible light or simply light. A typical human eye will respond to wavelengths from about 390 to 750 nm. In terms of...

 or infra-red light. The sensors are designed using solid-state physics
Solid-state physics
Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how the large-scale properties of solid materials result from...

. The process by which light propagates and reflects off surfaces is explained using optics
Optics
Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light...

. Sophisticated image sensors even require quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

 to provide a complete understanding of the image formation process.

There is a subfield within computer vision where artificial systems are designed to mimic the processing and behavior of biological systems, at different levels of complexity. Also, some of the learning-based methods developed within computer vision have their background in biology.

Manipulation



Robots need to manipulate objects; pick up, modify, destroy, or otherwise have an effect. Thus the "hands" of a robot are often referred to as end effectors
Robot end effector
In robotics, an end effector is the device at the end of a robotic arm, designed to interact with the environment. The exact nature of this device depends on the application of the robot....

, while the "arm" is referred to as a manipulator. Most robot arms have replaceable effectors, each allowing them to perform some small range of tasks. Some have a fixed manipulator which cannot be replaced, while a few have one very general purpose manipulator, for example a humanoid hand.

For the definitive guide to all forms of robot end-effectors, their design, and usage consult the book "Robot Grippers".

Mechanical Grippers


One of the most common effectors is the gripper. In its simplest manifestation it consists of just two fingers which can open and close to pick up and let go of a range of small objects. Fingers can for example be made of a chain with a metal wire run through it. Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand
Shadow Hand
The Shadow Dexterous Hand is a humaniform robot hand system developed by The Shadow Robot Company in London. The hand is comparable to a human hand in size and shape, and reproduces all of its degrees of freedom...

, the Robonaut
Robonaut
Robonaut is a humanoid robotic development project conducted by the Dextrous Robotics Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas...

 hand, ... Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include ie the Delft hand, ...

Vacuum Grippers


Vacuum grippers are very simple astrictive devices, but can hold very large loads provided the prehension
Prehensility
Prehensility is the quality of an appendage or organ that has adapted for grasping or holding. The word is derived from the Latin term prehendere, meaning "to grasp."-Examples:Appendages that can become prehensile include:...

 surface is smooth enough to ensure suction.

Pick and place robots for electronic components and for large objects like car windscreens, often use very simple vacuum grippers.

General purpose effectors


Some advanced robots are beginning to use fully humanoid hands, like the Shadow Hand, MANUS, and the Schunk
SCHUNK
SCHUNK Intec, Inc. is a multinational manufacturing company, based principally in Germany and in the United States. The company operates worldwide in more than 50 countries with wholly owned subsidiaries, five manufacturing locations in Germany, USA and China, and distribution partners all over the...

 hand. These highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.

Rolling robots



For simplicity most mobile robots have four wheel
Wheel
A wheel is a device that allows heavy objects to be moved easily through rotating on an axle through its center, facilitating movement or transportation while supporting a load, or performing labor in machines. Common examples found in transport applications. A wheel, together with an axle,...

s or a number of continuous tracks. Some researchers have tried to create more complex wheeled robots with only one or two wheels. These can have certain advantages such as greater efficiency and reduced parts, as well as allowing a robot to navigate in confined places that a four wheeled robot would not be able to.
Two-wheeled balancing robots

Balancing robots generally use a gyroscope
Gyroscope
A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of angular momentum. In essence, a mechanical gyroscope is a spinning wheel or disk whose axle is free to take any orientation...

 to detect how much a robot is falling and then drive the wheels proportionally in the opposite direction, to counter-balance the fall at hundreds of times per second, based on the dynamics of an inverted pendulum
Inverted pendulum
An inverted pendulum is a pendulum which has its mass above its pivot point. It is often implemented with the pivot point mounted on a cart that can move horizontally and may be called a cart and pole...

. Many different balancing robots have been designed. While the Segway
Segway PT
The Segway PT is a two-wheeled, self-balancing transportation machine invented by Dean Kamen. It is produced by Segway Inc. of New Hampshire, USA. The name "Segway" is a homophone of "segue" while "PT" denotes personal transporter....

 is not commonly thought of as a robot, it can be thought of as a component of a robot, such as NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Robonaut
Robonaut
Robonaut is a humanoid robotic development project conducted by the Dextrous Robotics Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas...

 that has been mounted on a Segway.
One-wheeled balancing robots

A one-wheeled balancing robot is an extension of a two-wheeled balancing robot so that it can move in any 2D direction using a round ball as its only wheel. Several one-wheeled balancing robots have been designed recently, such as Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States....

's "Ballbot
Ballbot
A Ballbot is a mobile robot designed to balance itself on a single spherical wheel , both while in motion or staying in place. Through its single contact point with the ground, a Ballbot is omnidirectional and thus exceptionally agile, maneuverable and organic in motion compared to other ground...

" that is the approximate height and width of a person, and Tohoku Gakuin University's "BallIP". Because of the long, thin shape and ability to maneuver in tight spaces, they have the potential to function better than other robots in environments with people.
Spherical orb robots

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball, or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere. These have also been referred to as an orb bot
Orb swarm
Orb Swarm is a kinetic art work consisting of six semi-autonomous spherical robots. It was created in 2007 by a group of engineers and artists including Michael Prados, Jon Foote, Lee Sonko, and many others....

  or a ball bot
Six-wheeled robots

Using six wheels instead of four wheels can give better traction or grip in outdoor terrain such as on rocky dirt or grass.
Tracked robots

Tank tracks provide even more traction than a six-wheeled robot. Tracked wheels behave as if they were made of hundreds of wheels, therefore are very common for outdoor and military robots, where the robot must drive on very rough terrain. However, they are difficult to use indoors such as on carpets and smooth floors. Examples include NASA's Urban Robot "Urbie".

Walking applied to robots



Walking is a difficult and dynamic problem to solve. Several robots have been made which can walk reliably on two legs, however none have yet been made which are as robust as a human. Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct. Hybrids too have been proposed in movies such as I, Robot
I, Robot (film)
I, Robot is a 2004 science-fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay was written by Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman and Hillary Seitz, and is very loosely based on Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. Will Smith stars in the lead role of the film as Detective Del...

, where they walk on 2 legs and switch to 4 (arms+legs) when going to a sprint. Typically, robots on 2 legs can walk well on flat floors and can occasionally walk up stairs
Stairway
Stairway, staircase, stairwell, flight of stairs, or simply stairs are names for a construction designed to bridge a large vertical distance by dividing it into smaller vertical distances, called steps...

. None can walk over rocky, uneven terrain. Some of the methods which have been tried are:
ZMP Technique

The Zero Moment Point (ZMP) is the algorithm used by robots such as Honda
Honda
is a Japanese public multinational corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles.Honda has been the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959, as well as the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines measured by volume, producing more than...

's ASIMO
ASIMO
is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Introduced in 2000, ASIMO, which is an acronym for "Advanced Step in Innovative MObility", was created to be a helper to people. With aspirations of helping people who lack full mobility, ASIMO is used to encourage young people to study science and mathematics...

. The robot's onboard computer tries to keep the total inertial forces
Inertia
Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion. It is proportional to an object's mass. The principle of inertia is one of the fundamental principles of classical physics which are used to...

 (the combination of earth's gravity
Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

 and the acceleration
Acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

 and deceleration of walking), exactly opposed by the floor reaction force
Reaction (physics)
The third of Newton's laws of motion of classical mechanics states that forces always occur in pairs. Every action is accompanied by a reaction of equal magnitude but opposite direction. This principle is commonly known in the Latin language as actio et reactio. The attribution of which of the two...

 (the force of the floor pushing back on the robot's foot). In this way, the two forces cancel out, leaving no moment
Moment (physics)
In physics, the term moment can refer to many different concepts:*Moment of force is the tendency of a force to twist or rotate an object; see the article torque for details. This is an important, basic concept in engineering and physics. A moment is valued mathematically as the product of the...

 (force causing the robot to rotate and fall over). However, this is not exactly how a human walks, and the difference is obvious to human observers, some of whom have pointed out that ASIMO walks as if it needs the lavatory
Toilet
A toilet is a sanitation fixture used primarily for the disposal of human excrement, often found in a small room referred to as a toilet/bathroom/lavatory...

. ASIMO's walking algorithm is not static, and some dynamic balancing is used (see below). However, it still requires a smooth surface to walk on.
Hopping

Several robots, built in the 1980s by Marc Raibert
Marc Raibert
Marc Raibert is a former MIT professor who founded the MIT Leg Lab in the 1980s, and went on to found Boston Dynamics, a simulation and robotics company in 1992. Raibert developed the first self-balancing hopping robots, a significant step forward in robotics...

 at the MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 Leg Laboratory, successfully demonstrated very dynamic walking. Initially, a robot with only one leg, and a very small foot, could stay upright simply by hopping. The movement is the same as that of a person on a pogo stick
Pogo stick
A pogo stick is a device for jumping off the ground in a standing position with the aid of a spring, used as a toy or exercise equipment. It consists of a pole with a handle at the top and footrests near the bottom, and a spring located somewhere along the pole...

. As the robot falls to one side, it would jump slightly in that direction, in order to catch itself. Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersault
Somersault
A somersault is an acrobatic exercise in which a person does a full 360° flip, moving the feet over the head. A somersault can be performed either forwards, backwards, or sideways and can be executed in the air or on the ground...

s. A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot
Trot (horse gait)
The trot is a two-beat diagonal gait of the horse, where the diagonal pairs of legs move forward at the same time. There is a moment of suspension between each beat....

, run, pace, and bound. For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.
Dynamic Balancing (controlled falling)

A more advanced way for a robot to walk is by using a dynamic balancing algorithm, which is potentially more robust than the Zero Moment Point technique, as it constantly monitors the robot's motion, and places the feet in order to maintain stability. This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots'
Trevor Blackwell
Trevor Blackwell is a computer programmer, engineer and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley.Blackwell is a developer of humanoid robots. He is also the inventor of the Eunicycle, essentially a one-wheeled Segway. Dr. Blackwell is the founder and CEO of Anybots and a partner at Y Combinator.- Life...

 Dexter Robot, which is so stable, it can even jump. Another example is the TU Delft Flame
Flame (robot)
Flame is the name of a roughly human-shaped robot, developed in the Netherlands by Daan Hobbelen of the Mechanical Engineering department of Delft University. Robot motion is more easily done with wheels, but this robot was designed specifically to study human walking...

.
Passive Dynamics

Perhaps the most promising approach utilizes passive dynamics
Passive dynamics
Passive dynamics is an approach to robotic movement control , based on utilising the momentum of swinging limbs for greater efficiency. This method is based on using the morphology of a mechanical system as a basis for necessary controls...

 where the momentum
Momentum
In classical mechanics, linear momentum or translational momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object...

 of swinging limbs is used for greater efficiency
Efficient energy use
Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal of efforts to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature...

. It has been shown that totally unpowered humanoid mechanisms can walk down a gentle slope, using only gravity
Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

 to propel themselves. Using this technique, a robot need only supply a small amount of motor power to walk along a flat surface or a little more to walk up a hill
Hill
A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills often have a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills...

. This technique promises to make walking robots at least ten times more efficient than ZMP walkers, like ASIMO.

Other methods of locomotion



Flying

A modern passenger airliner
Jet airliner
A jet airliner is an airliner that is powered by jet engines. This term is sometimes contracted to jetliner or jet.In contrast to today's relatively fuel-efficient, turbofan-powered air travel, first generation jet airliner travel was noisy and fuel inefficient...

 is essentially a flying
Flight
Flight is the process by which an object moves either through an atmosphere or beyond it by generating lift or propulsive thrust, or aerostatically using buoyancy, or by simple ballistic movement....

 robot, with two humans to manage it. The autopilot
Autopilot
An autopilot is a mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being. An autopilot can refer specifically to aircraft, self-steering gear for boats, or auto guidance of space craft and missiles...

 can control the plane for each stage of the journey, including takeoff, normal flight, and even landing. Other flying robots are uninhabited, and are known as unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s (UAVs). They can be smaller and lighter without a human pilot onboard, and fly into dangerous territory for military surveillance missions. Some can even fire on targets under command. UAVs are also being developed which can fire on targets automatically, without the need for a command from a human. Other flying robots include cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s, the Entomopter, and the Epson micro helicopter robot. Robots such as the Air Penguin, Air Ray, and Air Jelly have lighter-than-air bodies, propelled by paddles, and guided by sonar.

Snaking

Several snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

 robots have been successfully developed. Mimicking the way real snakes move, these robots can navigate very confined spaces, meaning they may one day be used to search for people trapped in collapsed buildings. The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot can even navigate both on land and in water.
Skating

A small number of skating
Roller skating
Roller skating is the traveling on smooth surfaces with roller skates. It is a form of recreation as well as a sport, and can also be a form of transportation. Skates generally come in two basic varieties: quad roller skates and inline skates or blades, though some have experimented with a...

 robots have been developed, one of which is a multi-mode walking and skating device. It has four legs, with unpowered wheels, which can either step or roll. Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or rollerskates, and skate across a desktop.
Climbing

Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces. One approach mimicks the movements of a human climber
Climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...

 on a wall with protrusions; adjusting the center of mass
Center of mass
In physics, the center of mass or barycenter of a system is the average location of all of its mass. In the case of a rigid body, the position of the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body...

 and moving each limb in turn to gain leverage. An example of this is Capuchin, built by Stanford University, California. Another approach uses the specialised toe pad method of wall-climbing gecko
Gecko
Geckos are lizards belonging to the infraorder Gekkota, found in warm climates throughout the world. They range from 1.6 cm to 60 cm....

es, which can run on smooth surfaces such as vertical glass. Examples of this approach include Wallbot and Stickybot. China's "Technology Daily" November 15, 2008 reported New Concept Aircraft (ZHUHAI) Co., Ltd. Dr. Li Hiu Yeung and his research group have recently successfully developed the bionic gecko robot "Speedy Freelander".According to Dr. Li introduction, this gecko robot can rapidly climbing up and down in a variety of building walls, ground and vertical wall fissure or walking upside down on the ceiling, it is able to adapt on smooth glass, rough or sticky dust walls as well as the various surface of metallic materials and also can automatically identify obstacles, circumvent the bypass and flexible and realistic movements. Its flexibility and speed are comparable to the natural gecko. A third approach is to mimick the motion of a snake climbing a pole.
Swimming (like a fish)

It is calculated that when swimming
Aquatic locomotion
Swimming is biologically propelled motion through a liquid medium. Swimming has evolved a number of times in a range of organisms ranging from arthropods to fish to molluscs.-Evolution of swimming:...

 some fish can achieve a propulsive
Marine propulsion
Marine propulsion is the mechanism or system used to generate thrust to move a ship or boat across water. While paddles and sails are still used on some smaller boats, most modern ships are propelled by mechanical systems consisting a motor or engine turning a propeller, or less frequently, in jet...

 efficiency greater than 90%. Furthermore, they can accelerate and maneuver far better than any man-made boat
Boat
A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a...

 or submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

, and produce less noise and water disturbance. Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion. Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science
University of Essex
The University of Essex is a British campus university whose original and largest campus is near the town of Colchester, England. Established in 1963 and receiving its Royal Charter in 1965...

 Robotic Fish, and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion
Fish locomotion
The prevailing type of fish locomotion is swimming in water. In addition, some fish can "walk", i.e., move over land, burrow in mud, and glide through the air.-Swimming:Fish swim by exerting force against the surrounding water...

. The Aqua Penguin, designed and built by Festo of Germany, copies the streamlined shape and propulsion by front "flippers" of penguin
Penguin
Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have become flippers...

s. Festo have also built the Aqua Ray and Aqua Jelly, which emulate the locomotion of manta ray, and jellyfish, respectively.

Environmental interaction and navigation




Though a significant percentage of robots in commission today are either human controlled, or operate in a static environment, there is an increasing interest in robots that can operate autonomously in a dynamic environment. These robots require some combination of navigation hardware and software
Robotic mapping
Robotic mapping is related to cartography. The goal for an autonomous robot to be able to construct a map or floor plan and to localize itself in it...

 in order to traverse their environment. In particular unforeseen events (e.g. people and other obstacles that are not stationary) can cause problems or collisions. Some highly advanced robots as ASIMO
ASIMO
is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Introduced in 2000, ASIMO, which is an acronym for "Advanced Step in Innovative MObility", was created to be a helper to people. With aspirations of helping people who lack full mobility, ASIMO is used to encourage young people to study science and mathematics...

, EveR-1
EveR-1
EveR-1 is a female android, developed by a team of South Korean scientists from the in Korea University of Science and Technology. The project is headed by Baeg Moon-hong and was unveiled to the public at in Seoul on May 4, 2003...

, Meinü robot
Meinü robot
A Meinü robot is a Chinese gynoid model which was reported on in Chinese news sources in 2006. In Mandarin, Měinǚ Jīqìrén 美女机器人 literally means "beautiful-woman robot" and is officially translated "beauty robot"...

 have particularly good robot navigation hardware and software. Also, self-controlled car
Intelligent car
Vehicle Automation involves the use of mechatronics and in particular, artificial intelligence to assist in the control of the vehicle, thereby relieving responsibilities from the driver or making a responsibility more manageable. These features and the vehicles employing them may be labeled as...

s, Ernst Dickmanns
Ernst Dickmanns
Ernst Dieter Dickmanns is a former professor at Bundeswehr University Munich , and a pioneer of dynamic computer vision and of driverless cars. Dickmanns has been visiting professor to CalTech, Pasadena, and to MIT, Boston teaching courses on 'dynamic vision'.- Biography :Dickmanns was born in 1936...

' driverless car
Driverless car
An autonomous car, also known as robotic or informally as driverless, is an autonomous vehicle capable of fulfilling the human transportation capabilities of a traditional car. As an autonomous vehicle, it is capable of sensing its environment and navigating on its own...

, and the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge
DARPA Grand Challenge
The DARPA Grand Challenge is a prize competition for driverless vehicles, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the most prominent research organization of the United States Department of Defense...

, are capable of sensing the environment well and subsequently making navigational decisions based on this information. Most of these robots employ a GPS
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 navigation device with waypoints, along with radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

, sometimes combined with other sensory data such as LIDAR
LIDAR
LIDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of a target by illuminating the target with light, often using pulses from a laser...

, video camera
Video camera
A video camera is a camera used for electronic motion picture acquisition, initially developed by the television industry but now common in other applications as well. The earliest video cameras were those of John Logie Baird, based on the electromechanical Nipkow disk and used by the BBC in...

s, and inertial guidance systems for better navigation between waypoints.

Human-robot interaction




If robots are to work effectively in homes and other non-industrial environments, the way they are instructed to perform their jobs, and especially how they will be told to stop will be of critical importance. The people who interact with them may have little or no training in robotics, and so any interface will need to be extremely intuitive. Science fiction authors also typically assume that robots will eventually be capable of communicating with humans through speech
Speech
Speech is the human faculty of speaking.It may also refer to:* Public speaking, the process of speaking to a group of people* Manner of articulation, how the body parts involved in making speech are manipulated...

, gesture
Gesture
A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body...

s, and facial expression
Facial expression
A facial expression one or more motions or positions of the muscles in the skin. These movements convey the emotional state of the individual to observers. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of conveying social information among humans, but also occur...

s, rather than a command-line interface
Command-line interface
A command-line interface is a mechanism for interacting with a computer operating system or software by typing commands to perform specific tasks...

. Although speech would be the most natural way for the human to communicate, it is unnatural for the robot. It will probably be a long time before robots interact as naturally as the fictional C-3PO
C-3PO
C-3PO is a robot character from the Star Wars universe who appears in both the original Star Wars films and the prequel trilogy. He is also a major character in the television show Droids, and appears frequently in the series' "Expanded Universe" of novels, comic books, and video games...

.

Speech recognition


Interpreting the continuous flow of sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

s coming from a human, in real time
Real-time computing
In computer science, real-time computing , or reactive computing, is the study of hardware and software systems that are subject to a "real-time constraint"— e.g. operational deadlines from event to system response. Real-time programs must guarantee response within strict time constraints...

, is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech
Manner of articulation
In linguistics, manner of articulation describes how the tongue, lips, jaw, and other speech organs are involved in making a sound. Often the concept is only used for the production of consonants, even though the movement of the articulars will also greatly alter the resonant properties of the...

. The same word
Word
In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

, spoken by the same person may sound different depending on local acoustics
Acoustics
Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics...

, volume
Volume
Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by some closed boundary, for example, the space that a substance or shape occupies or contains....

, the previous word, whether or not the speaker has a cold
Common cold
The common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, caused primarily by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Common symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever...

, etc.. It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent. Nevertheless, great strides have been made in the field since Davis, Biddulph, and Balashek designed the first "voice input system" which recognized "ten digits spoken by a single user with 100% accuracy" in 1952. Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.

Robotic voice


Other hurdles exist when allowing the robot to use voice for interacting with humans. For social reasons, synthetic voice proves suboptimal as a communication medium, making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.

Gestures


One can imagine, in the future, explaining to a robot chef how to make a pastry, or asking directions from a robot police officer. In both of these cases, making hand gesture
Gesture
A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body...

s would aid the verbal descriptions. In the first case, the robot would be recognizing gestures made by the human, and perhaps repeating them for confirmation. In the second case, the robot police officer would gesture to indicate "down the road, then turn right". It is likely that gestures will make up a part of the interaction between humans and robots. A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.

Facial expression


Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon it may be able to do the same for humans and robots. Robotic faces have been constructed by Hanson Robotics using their elastic polymer called Frubber, allowing a great amount of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and imbedded subsurface motors (servos
Servomechanism
thumb|right|200px|Industrial servomotorThe grey/green cylinder is the [[Brush |brush-type]] [[DC motor]]. The black section at the bottom contains the [[Epicyclic gearing|planetary]] [[Reduction drive|reduction gear]], and the black object on top of the motor is the optical [[rotary encoder]] for...

) to produce the facial expressions. The coating and servos are built on a metal skull
Human skull
The human skull is a bony structure, skeleton, that is in the human head and which supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.In humans, the adult skull is normally made up of 22 bones...

. A robot should know how to approach a human, judging by their facial expression and body language. Whether the person is happy, frightened, or crazy-looking affects the type of interaction expected of the robot. Likewise, robots like Kismet
Kismet (robot)
Kismet is a robot made in the late 1990s at Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal. The robot's auditory, visual and expressive systems were intended to allow it to participate in human social interaction and to demonstrate simulated human emotion and appearance...

 and the more recent addition, Nexi can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.

Artificial emotions


Artificial emotions can also be imbedded and are composed of a sequence of facial expressions and/or gestures. As can be seen from the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a 2001 Japanese-American computer animated science fiction film directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series of role-playing video games. It was the first photorealistic computer animated feature film and also holds the record for the most...

, the programming of these artificial emotions is complex and requires a great amount of human observation. To simplify this programming in the movie, presets were created together with a special software program. This decreased the amount of time needed to make the film. These presets could possibly be transferred for use in real-life robots.

Personality


Many of the robots of science fiction have a personality
Personality psychology
Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies personality and individual differences. Its areas of focus include:* Constructing a coherent picture of the individual and his or her major psychological processes...

, something which may or may not be desirable in the commercial robots of the future. Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality: i.e. they use sounds, facial expressions, and body language to try to convey an internal state, which may be joy, sadness, or fear. One commercial example is Pleo
Pleo
Pleo is an animatronic pet dinosaur toy designed to emulate the appearance and behavior of a week-old baby Camarasaurus. It was designed by Caleb Chung, the co-creator of the Furby, Chung's company Ugobe sold pleo and was manufactured by Jetta...

, a toy robot dinosaur, which can exhibit several apparent emotions.

Control



The mechanical
Machine
A machine manages power to accomplish a task, examples include, a mechanical system, a computing system, an electronic system, and a molecular machine. In common usage, the meaning is that of a device having parts that perform or assist in performing any type of work...

 structure of a robot must be controlled to perform tasks.
The control of a robot involves three distinct phases - perception, processing, and action (robotic paradigms
Robotic paradigms
A robotic paradigm can be described by the relationship between the three primitives of robotics: Sense, Plan, and Act. It can also be described by how sensory data is processed and distributed through the system, and where decisions are made....

). Sensor
Sensor
A sensor is a device that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an instrument. For example, a mercury-in-glass thermometer converts the measured temperature into expansion and contraction of a liquid which can be read on a calibrated...

s give information about the environment or the robot itself (e.g. the position of its joints or its end effector). This information is then processed to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators (motor
Electric motor
An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

s) which move the mechanical.

The processing phase can range in complexity. At a reactive level, it may translate raw sensor information directly into actuator commands. Sensor fusion
Sensor fusion
Sensor fusion is the combining of sensory data or data derived from sensory data from disparate sources such that the resulting information is in some sense better than would be possible when these sources were used individually...

 may first be used to estimate parameters of interest (e.g. the position of the robot's gripper) from noisy sensor data. An immediate task (such as moving the gripper in a certain direction) is inferred from these estimates. Techniques from control theory
Control theory
Control theory is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and mathematics that deals with the behavior of dynamical systems. The desired output of a system is called the reference...

 convert the task into commands that drive the actuators.

At longer time scales or with more sophisticated tasks, the robot may need to build and reason with a "cognitive" model. Cognitive models try to represent the robot, the world, and how they interact. Pattern recognition and computer vision can be used to track objects. Mapping
Simultaneous localization and mapping
Simultaneous localization and mapping is a technique used by robots and autonomous vehicles to build up a map within an unknown environment , or to update a map within a known environment , while at the same time keeping track of their current location.- Operational definition :Maps are used...

 techniques can be used to build maps of the world. Finally, motion planning
Motion planning
Motion planning is a term used in robotics for the process of detailing a task into discrete motions....

 and other artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 techniques may be used to figure out how to act. For example, a planner may figure out how to achieve a task without hitting obstacles, falling over, etc.

Autonomy levels


Control systems may also have varying levels of autonomy.
  1. Direct interaction is used for haptic or tele-operated devices, and the human has nearly complete control over the robot's motion.
  2. Operator-assist modes have the operator commanding medium-to-high-level tasks, with the robot automatically figuring out how to achieve them.
  3. An autonomous robot may go for extended periods of time without human interaction. Higher levels of autonomy do not necessarily require more complex cognitive capabilities. For example, robots in assembly plants are completely autonomous, but operate in a fixed pattern.


Another classification takes into account the interaction between human control and the machine motions.
  1. Teleoperation. A human controls each movement, each machine actuator change is specified by the operator.
  2. Supervisory. A human specifies general moves or position changes and the machine decides specific movements of its actuators.
  3. Task-level autonomy. The operator specifies only the task and the robot manages itself to complete it.
  4. Full autonomy. The machine will create and complete all its tasks without human interaction.

Robotics research



Much of the research in robotics focuses not on specific industrial tasks, but on investigations into new types of robots, alternative ways to think about or design robots, and new ways to manufacture them but other investigations, such as MIT's cyberflora
Cyberflora
The Cyberflora project is a project developed by the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The project is part of the Anima Machina program at MIT - a program that was developed by Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and Director of the Robotic Life Group Cynthia Breazeal...

 project, are almost wholly academic.

A first particular new innovation in robot design is the opensourcing of robot-projects. To describe the level of advancement of a robot, the term "Generation Robots" can be used. This term is coined by Professor Hans Moravec
Hans Moravec
Hans Moravec is an adjunct faculty member at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. He is known for his work on robotics, artificial intelligence, and writings on the impact of technology. Moravec also is a futurist with many of his publications and predictions focusing on...

, Principal Research Scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States....

 Robotics Institute
Robotics Institute
The Robotics Institute is a division of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. It is considered to be one of the leading centers of robotics research in the world....

 in describing the near future evolution of robot technology. First generation robots, Moravec predicted in 1997, should have an intellectual capacity comparable to perhaps a lizard
Lizard
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 3800 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains...

 and should become available by 2010. Because the first generation robot would be incapable of learning
Learning
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.Human learning...

, however, Moravec predicts that the second generation robot would be an improvement over the first and become available by 2020, with the intelligence maybe comparable to that of a mouse
Mouse
A mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse . It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles...

. The third generation robot should have the intelligence comparable to that of a monkey
Monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

. Though fourth generation robots, robots with human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 intelligence, professor Moravec predicts, would become possible, he does not predict this happening before around 2040 or 2050.

The second is Evolutionary Robots
Evolutionary robotics
Evolutionary robotics is a methodology that uses evolutionary computation to develop controllers for autonomous robots. Algorithms in ER frequently operate on populations of candidate controllers, initially selected from some distribution. This population is then repeatedly modified according to...

. This is a methodology
Methodology
Methodology is generally a guideline for solving a problem, with specificcomponents such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools . It can be defined also as follows:...

 that uses evolutionary computation
Evolutionary computation
In computer science, evolutionary computation is a subfield of artificial intelligence that involves combinatorial optimization problems....

 to help design robots, especially the body form, or motion and behavior controllers
Controller (control theory)
In control theory, a controller is a device which monitors and affects the operational conditions of a given dynamical system. The operational conditions are typically referred to as output variables of the system which can be affected by adjusting certain input variables...

. In a similar way to natural evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, a large population of robots is allowed to compete in some way, or their ability to perform a task is measured using a fitness function
Fitness function
A fitness function is a particular type of objective function that is used to summarise, as a single figure of merit, how close a given design solution is to achieving the set aims....

. Those that perform worst are removed from the population, and replaced by a new set, which have new behaviors based on those of the winners. Over time the population improves, and eventually a satisfactory robot may appear. This happens without any direct programming of the robots by the researchers. Researchers use this method both to create better robots, and to explore the nature of evolution. Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated, this technique may be run entirely or mostly in simulation
Simulation
Simulation is the imitation of some real thing available, state of affairs, or process. The act of simulating something generally entails representing certain key characteristics or behaviours of a selected physical or abstract system....

, then tested on real robots once the evolved algorithms are good enough. Currently, there are about 1 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is the top country having high density of utilizing robots in its manufacturing industry.

Dynamics and kinematics


The study of motion can be divided into kinematics
Kinematics
Kinematics is the branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of bodies and systems without consideration of the forces that cause the motion....

 and dynamics. Direct kinematics refers to the calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity
Velocity
In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant ...

, and acceleration
Acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

 when the corresponding joint values are known. Inverse kinematics
Inverse kinematics
Inverse kinematics is a subdomain of kinematics, which is of particular interest in robotics and computer animation. In contrast to forward kinematics, which calculates the position of a body after a series of motions, inverse kinematics calculates the motions necessary to achieve a desired...

 refers to the opposite case in which required joint values are calculated for given end effector values, as done in path planning. Some special aspects of kinematics include handling of redundancy (different possibilities of performing the same movement), collision
Collision
A collision is an isolated event which two or more moving bodies exert forces on each other for a relatively short time.Although the most common colloquial use of the word "collision" refers to accidents in which two or more objects collide, the scientific use of the word "collision" implies...

 avoidance, and singularity
Mechanical singularity
In engineering, a mechanical singularity is a position or configuration of a mechanism or a machine where the subsequent behaviour cannot be predicted, or the forces or other physical quantities involved become infinite or nondeterministic....

 avoidance. Once all relevant positions, velocities, and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics
Kinematics
Kinematics is the branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of bodies and systems without consideration of the forces that cause the motion....

, methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of force
Force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

s upon these movements. Direct dynamics refers to the calculation of accelerations in the robot once the applied forces are known. Direct dynamics is used in computer simulation
Computer simulation
A computer simulation, a computer model, or a computational model is a computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system...

s of the robot. Inverse dynamics
Inverse dynamics
Inverse dynamics is an inverse problem. It commonly refers to either inverse rigid body dynamics or inverse structural dynamics. Inverse rigid-body dynamics is a method for computing forces and/or moments of force based on the kinematics of a body and the body's inertial properties...

 refers to the calculation of the actuator forces necessary to create a prescribed end effector acceleration. This information can be used to improve the control algorithms of a robot.

In each area mentioned above, researchers strive to develop new concepts and strategies, improve existing ones, and improve the interaction between these areas. To do this, criteria for "optimal" performance and ways to optimize design, structure, and control of robots must be developed and implemented.

Education and training



Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, raising interests in computing among students. First-year computer science courses at several universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework.

Career training


Universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 offer Bachelors
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

, Masters
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

, and Doctoral degrees
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 in the field of robotics. Some Private Career Colleges and vocational school
Vocational school
A vocational school , providing vocational education, is a school in which students are taught the skills needed to perform a particular job...

s offer robotics training aimed at careers in robotics.

Certification


The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance (RCSA)
Robotics Certification Standards Alliance
The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance is a global company that has been actively providing robotics curriculums, training, online testing systems and certification since 1998....

 is an international robotics certification authority that confers various industry- and educational-related robotics certifications.

Employment


Robotics is an essential component in many modern manufacturing environments. As factories increase their use of robots, the number of robotics–related jobs grow and have been observed to be steadily rising.

Effects on unemployment



Some analysts, such as Martin Ford, author of The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, argue that robots and other forms of automation will ultimately result in significant unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

 unless the economy is engineered to absorb them without displacing humans, as machines begin to match and exceed the capability of workers to perform most jobs. At present the negative impact is only on menial and repetitive jobs, and there is actually a positive impact on the number of jobs for highly skilled technicians, engineers, and specialists
Roboticist
A roboticist designs, builds, programs, and experiments with robots. Since robotics is a highly interdisciplinary field, roboticists often have backgrounds in a number of disciplines including computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer engineering...

. However, these highly skilled jobs are not sufficient in number to offset the greater decrease in employment among the general population, causing structural unemployment
Structural unemployment
Structural unemployment is a form of unemployment resulting from a mismatch between demand in the labour market and the skills and locations of the workers seeking employment...

 in which overall (net) unemployment rises.

As robotics and artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 develop further, some worry that even many skilled jobs may be threatened. According to conventional economic theory, this should merely cause an increase in the productivity of the involved industries; resulting in higher demand for other goods, and hence higher labour demand in these sectors and off-setting whatever negatives are caused. Conventional theory describes the past well, but may not describe future scenarios due to shifts in the parameter values that shape the context (see Automation and its effects on unemployment).

See also


  • Outline of robotics
    Outline of robotics
    The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to robotics:Robotics – branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robots. Robotics is related to the sciences of electronics, ...

  • Glossary of robotics
    Glossary of robotics
    Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robots...

  • Index of robotics articles
  • Dexter Industries
    Dexter Industries
    Dexter Industries is a third-party developer best known for their sensors which support the Lego Mindstorms NXT system. Dexter Industries has several products that relate specifically to the Lego Mindstorms NXT systems...

    - Maker of robots.

Further reading


External links