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A Toy-Sized, Laser-Wielding Robot Is Here to Kill Mosquitoes

Bug Hunt

The robot uprising is starting small.

One day, Terminator-style killer robots might stamp us out like cockroaches. For now, a new bot called the “Laser Movable Mosquito Killer Robot,” created by Chinese robotics company LeiShen Intelligent, does exactly what its name suggests: blasts mosquitoes out of the air with a laser turret.

Roomba Rambo

The robot navigates like any other household bot, but comes equipped with a bug-frying laser, according to Quill or Capture. The company says it can kill up to 40 mosquitoes per second. That seems unbelievably high, but maybe it’s saying that the laser could carve a path through the swarm if the air was literally filled the little buggers.

LeiShen Intelligent also swears the weaponized laser is totally human-safe, which sounds exactly like what killer robots would want us to believe — if you catch my drift.

Take the Fight to Them

As LeiShen Intelligent’s flowery description tells it, the bot could be used to help fight the spread of disease.

In the past thousands of years that are written in history, human’s fight against mosquitoes have never ended with our victory. But with the invention and later-application of these laser mosquito killer products, history is there to be changed. Diseases like malaria, dengue fever and zika that [are] caused by mosquito bites will get controlled a great deal.

While the idea of a weaponized bug zapper darting around your feet might be unsettling, we’re happy to hear that these little laserbots are fighting on our side.

READ MORE: PRESENTING, THE MOSQUITO KILLER ROBOT (!!) [Quill or Capture]

More on autonomous weapons: Five Experts Share What Scares Them the Most About AI

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A Toy-Sized, Laser-Wielding Robot Is Here to Kill Mosquitoes

These Tidying Robots Clean Up Toys, Put Roomba to Shame

Cleaning House

Think kids move slowly when asked to clean their rooms? They probably look like Usain Bolt next to these robots.

On Monday, Tokyo-based robotics company Preferred Networks showed off a pair of fully autonomous room-tidying robots at CEATEC 2018, a Japanese tech exhibition. And while they are a huge technical step up from the dust-guzzling Roomba, they sure take their time.

Rosy’s Replacements

In a video of the demonstration, the robots navigate a room in which various objects — shoes, toys, plasticware — litter the floor. The robots pick up the objects one by one and put them where they’re supposed to go, expertly dropping a piece of plastic into a bin and placing a shoe neatly on the floor next to its match.

According to a site describing the robots, this is all possible thanks to a combination of cameras and deep learning software, which allow the tidying robots to identify objects and decide their fate. Presumably, users would need to train the bots in some way so they’d know in advance where to place each object.

Slow and Slower

Occasionally, one of the bots drops an object outside a bin, or knocks askew a box of folders while placing an object on a shelf. But in general, the robots seem to know what they’re doing, and they do it with relative skill.

What they don’t seems to know how to do, however, is anything fast — the video is sped up to 20 times actual speed, and the tidying robots still don’t exactly zip around the screen.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Preferred Networks hopes to sell its room-cleaning robots, but it doesn’t say when. Until it can teach them to pick up the pace, we’re probably better off just tackling our tidying tasks on our own. Sorry, kids.

READ MORE: Robot Solves a Problem Kids Can’t: Cleaning Their Rooms [The Wall Street Journal]

More on cleaning bots: Today in Dystopia: This Roomba “Remembers” a Map of Your House

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These Tidying Robots Clean Up Toys, Put Roomba to Shame

Terminator 2’s Terrifying Villain Inspired a New Liquid Metal Robot

Hasta La Vista

Soochow University robotics professor Li Xiangpeng didn’t mince words in a new interview about his latest robot.

“We were inspired,” he told the South China Morning Post, “by T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

T-1000? The killer assassin android on a special mission to murder the teenaged John Connor? That T-1000?

Thankfully, it wasn’t T-1000’s killer instincts that prompted Xiangpeng. Instead it was the liquid-metal robot’s shape-shifting ability that fascinated his research team. And while the robot they built is far less advanced than the one depicted in James Cameron’s sci-fi classic, it could pave the way for bots to come.

Hey Janelle

Xiangpeng and other researchers from China and Australia detail their creation in a paper published earlier this month in the journal Advanced Materials.

Ultimately, their robot comprises just three parts: a plastic wheel, drops of a gallium-based liquid metal alloy, and a small lithium battery. Voltage from the battery alters the liquid metal’s center of gravity, which causes the palm-sized robot to roll in one direction or the other.

I’ll Be Back

The bot may be a far cry from T-1000, but the researchers believe their creation could serve as inspiration for other devices, the same way James Cameron’s 1991 smash-hit followup to “The Terminator” inspired them to build this tiny bot.

“In the future, we expect to further develop soft robots incorporating liquid metal that could be used in special missions such as searching for and rescuing earthquake victims, since they can change shape to slide under doors or make it through spaces humans can’t get into,” researcher Tang Shiyang told SCMP.

Saving people following natural disasters — now that’s the kind of mission we can get behind.

READ MORE: Chinese Scientists Develop Shape-Shifting Robot Inspired by T-1000 From Terminator [South China Morning Post]

More on Terminator-esque robots: Russia’s New Space Robot Can Drive, Use Tools… and Shoot

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Terminator 2’s Terrifying Villain Inspired a New Liquid Metal Robot

These Tiny Drones Can Pull Objects 40 Times Their Weight

Force of Nature

What do you get when you combine a wasp, a gecko, and a team of world-class roboticists?

You get a drone called FlyCroTug, and while the above sounds like the setup to some terrible joke, this tiny bot is pulling way more than its weight — literally.

Pull Up

FlyCroTug is the work of a team of researchers from Stanford University and Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. While most drones serve the same primary purpose — to provide us with eyes in the sky — these researchers wanted to create a drone that could actually do something. In the case of FlyCroTug, that “something” is pull.

In a paper published this week in the journal Science Robotics, the research team details how the tiny drone is able to attach itself onto a smooth surface using an adhesive inspired by geckos. If the surface is rough, tiny spines inspired by yet another creature — insects — take hold. Once anchored, FlyCroTug can then pull objects up to 40 times its own body weight.

Open Sesame Drones

The research team demonstrates the bot’s abilities in a video released alongside the paper. In one demo, researchers use a remote control to direct the tiny drone to lift a filled water bottle. In another, they have a pair of the bots open a door — one FlyCroTug latches onto the handle, pulling it down while a second slips a hook under the door that it then pulls horizontally.

The researchers see potential for the bots to help in search and rescue missions, navigating collapsed buildings and moving debris out of the way if necessary. But it’s hard not to let your imagination run wild watching the bots work together on the door demo. Who else is thinking they’d be the perfect partners for a heist? Just me?

READ MORE: Small Flying Robots Haul Heavy Loads [EurekAlert]

More on drones: The Red Cross Officially Launched the First Drone Program for Disasters

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These Tiny Drones Can Pull Objects 40 Times Their Weight

New Roundup Ranks the World’s Robots by Creepiness

Robot Repository

They can be cuddly or creepy, humanoid or like something from another world. They’re the robots currently making waves in the tech industry — and now you can find them all in one convenient online location.

On Thursday, the magazine IEEE Spectrum launched ROBOTS, an aptly named online guide to the world of robotics. And not only is the site likely to trigger some laughs — and/or nightmares — but it could also shape the future of the industry.

Uncanny Valley

Currently, the ROBOTS site features 192 bots, including robo-celebrities Atlas, SpotMini, and Pepper and working bots RoombaDa Vinci, and Curiosity. Clicking a robot’s thumbnail brings up a profile on it that includes a short bio, photos/videos, and details about the robot’s creation.

It also pulls up a ranking section where visitors can note how much they like a robot, rate its appearance on a scale of “creepy” to “nice,” and indicate whether or not they’d want to own the robot.

IEEE Spectrum then uses this information to update three rankings: Top Rated, Most Wanted, and Creepiest. Telenoid, which looks an awful lot like the human being mascot from “Community,” currently sits atop the Creepiest ranking, but Diego-san, the big-headed baby bot, has our vote. Yikes.

Inspire Something

So far, experts seem to dig the site, both for its entertainment value and the role it could play in shaping the future of robotics.

“This is the repository that future generations of humans and robots will look back upon with nostalgia,” Rodney Brooks, cofounder of iRobot, the company behind Roomba, told IEEE Spectrum.

“Robots are magnetic to kids,” added Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. “This catalog has the potential to inspire kids to learn computational thinking and computational making, which in turn will provide them with tools to create amazing things in the future.”

Of course, that’s assuming bots like ECCE don’t give the little ones nightmares.

READ MORE: Explore the World’s Coolest Robots, All in One Place [IEEE Spectrum]

More on robots: Watch the Boston Dynamics Robodog Twerk and Moonwalk To “Uptown Funk”

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New Roundup Ranks the World’s Robots by Creepiness

Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, information engineering, computer science, and others. Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.

These technologies are used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions. Robots can be used in many situations and for lots of purposes, but today many are used in dangerous environments (including bomb detection and deactivation), manufacturing processes, or where humans cannot survive (e.g. in space). Robots can take on any form but some are made to resemble humans in appearance. This is said to help in the acceptance of a robot in certain replicative behaviors usually performed by people. Such robots attempt to replicate walking, lifting, speech, cognition, and basically anything a human can do. Many of today’s robots are inspired by nature, contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.

The concept of creating machines that can 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.[1] Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed that robots will one day be able to mimic human behavior and manage tasks in a human-like fashion. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as technological advances continue; researching, designing, and building new robots serve various practical purposes, whether domestically, commercially, or militarily. Many robots are built to do jobs that are hazardous to people such as defusing bombs, finding survivors in unstable ruins, and exploring mines and shipwrecks. Robotics is also used in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as a teaching aid.

Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering.

The word robotics was derived from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel apek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which was published in 1920.[2] The word robot comes from the Slavic word rabota, which means labour/work. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, creatures who can be mistaken for humans very similar to the modern ideas of androids. Karel apek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother Josef apek as its actual originator.[2]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word robotics was first used in print by Isaac Asimov, in his science fiction short story “Liar!”, published in May 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction. 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 (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942),[3][4] where he introduced his concept of The Three Laws of Robotics. However, the original publication of “Liar!” predates that of “Runaround” by ten months, so the former is generally cited as the word’s origin.

In 1948, Norbert Wiener formulated the principles of cybernetics, the basis of practical robotics.

Fully autonomous only appeared in the second half of the 20th century. The first digitally operated and programmable robot, the Unimate, was installed in 1961 to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Commercial and industrial robots are widespread today and used to perform jobs more cheaply, more accurately and more reliably, than humans. They are also employed in some jobs which are too dirty, dangerous, or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, mining, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, safety, and the mass production of consumer and industrial goods.[5]

There are many types of robots; they are used in many different environments and for many different uses, although being very diverse in application and form they all share three basic similarities when it comes to their construction:

As more and more robots are designed for specific tasks this method of classification becomes more relevant. For example, many robots are designed for assembly work, which may not be readily adaptable for other applications. They are termed as “assembly robots”. For seam welding, some suppliers provide complete welding systems with the robot i.e. the welding equipment along with other material handling facilities like turntables etc. as an integrated unit. Such an integrated robotic system is called a “welding robot” even though its discrete manipulator unit could be adapted to a variety of tasks. Some robots are specifically designed for heavy load manipulation, and are labelled as “heavy duty robots”.

Current and potential applications include:

At present, mostly (leadacid) batteries are used as a power source. Many different types of batteries can be used as a power source for robots. They range from leadacid batteries, which are safe and have relatively long shelf lives but are rather heavy compared to silvercadmium batteries that are much smaller in volume and are currently much more expensive. Designing a battery-powered robot needs to take into account factors such as safety, cycle lifetime and weight. Generators, often some type of internal combustion engine, can also be used. However, such designs are often mechanically complex and need a fuel, require heat dissipation and are relatively heavy. A tether connecting the robot to a power supply would remove the power supply from the robot entirely. This has the advantage of saving weight and space by moving all power generation and storage components elsewhere. However, this design does come with the drawback of constantly having a cable connected to the robot, which can be difficult to manage.[32] Potential power sources could be:

Actuators are the “muscles” of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy into movement. By far the most popular actuators are electric motors that rotate a wheel or gear, and linear actuators that control industrial robots in factories. There are some recent advances in alternative types of actuators, powered by electricity, chemicals, or compressed air.

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 machines. These motors are often preferred in systems with lighter loads, and where the predominant form of motion is rotational.

Various types of linear actuators move in and out instead of by spinning, and often have quicker direction changes, particularly when very large forces are needed such as with industrial robotics. They are typically powered by compressed and oxidized air (pneumatic actuator) or an oil (hydraulic actuator).

A flexure is designed as part of the motor actuator, to improve safety and provide robust force control, energy efficiency, shock absorption (mechanical filtering) while reducing excessive wear on the transmission and other mechanical components. The resultant lower reflected inertia can improve safety when a robot is interacting with humans or during collisions. It has been used in various robots, particularly advanced manufacturing robots and[33] walking humanoid robots.[34]

Pneumatic artificial muscles, also known as air muscles, are special tubes that expand(typically up to 40%) when air is forced inside them. They are used in some robot applications.[35][36][37]

Muscle wire, also known as shape memory alloy, Nitinol or Flexinol wire, is a material which contracts (under 5%) when electricity is applied. They have been used for some small robot applications.[38][39]

EAPs or EPAMs are a new[when?] 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,[40] and to enable new robots to float,[41] fly, swim or walk.[42]

Recent alternatives to DC motors are piezo motors or ultrasonic motors. These work on a fundamentally different principle, whereby tiny piezoceramic 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 step the motor in a circle or a straight line.[43] Another type uses the piezo elements to cause a nut to vibrate or to drive a screw. The advantages of these motors are nanometer resolution, speed, and available force for their size.[44] These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.[45][46]

Elastic nanotubes are a promising artificial muscle technology in early-stage experimental development. The absence of defects in carbon nanotubes enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent, with energy storage levels of perhaps 10J/cm3 for metal nanotubes. Human biceps could be replaced with an 8mm diameter wire of this material. Such compact “muscle” might allow future robots to outrun and outjump humans.[47]

Sensors allow robots to receive information about a certain measurement of the environment, or internal components. This is essential for robots to perform their tasks, and act upon any changes in the environment to calculate the appropriate response. They are used for various forms of measurements, to give the robots warnings about safety or malfunctions, and to provide real-time information of the task it is performing.

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.[48][49] 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 and Israel developed a prosthetic hand in 2009, called SmartHand, which functions like a real oneallowing patients to write with it, type on a keyboard, play piano and perform other fine movements. The prosthesis has sensors which enable the patient to sense real feeling in its fingertips.[50]

Computer vision 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 or infra-red light. The sensors are designed using solid-state physics. The process by which light propagates and reflects off surfaces is explained using optics. Sophisticated image sensors even require quantum mechanics to provide a complete understanding of the image formation process. Robots can also be equipped with multiple vision sensors to be better able to compute the sense of depth in the environment. Like human eyes, robots’ “eyes” must also be able to focus on a particular area of interest, and also adjust to variations in light intensities.

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

Other common forms of sensing in robotics use lidar, radar, and sonar.[citation needed]

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,[51] while the “arm” is referred to as a manipulator.[52] 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.[53]Learning how to manipulate a robot often requires a close feedback between human to the robot, although there are several methods for remote manipulation of robots.[54]

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.[55] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[56] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[57][58] Mechanical grippers can come in various types, including friction and encompassing jaws. Friction jaws use all the force of the gripper to hold the object in place using friction. Encompassing jaws cradle the object in place, using less friction.

Vacuum grippers are very simple astrictive[59] devices that can hold very large loads provided the prehension 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.

Some advanced robots are beginning to use fully humanoid hands, like the Shadow Hand, MANUS,[60] and the Schunk hand.[61] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[62]

For simplicity, most mobile robots have four wheels 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.

Balancing robots generally use a gyroscope to detect how much a robot is falling and then drive the wheels proportionally in the same direction, to counterbalance the fall at hundreds of times per second, based on the dynamics of an inverted pendulum.[63] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[64] While the Segway is not commonly thought of as a robot, it can be thought of as a component of a robot, when used as such Segway refer to them as RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform). An example of this use has been as NASA’s Robonaut that has been mounted on a Segway.[65]

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’s “Ballbot” that is the approximate height and width of a person, and Tohoku Gakuin University’s “BallIP”.[66] 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.[67]

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[68][69] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[70][71] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[72] or a ball bot.[73][74]

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

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”.[75]

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. There has been much study on human inspired walking, such as AMBER lab which was established in 2008 by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University.[76] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[77][78] Walking robots can be used for uneven terrains, which would provide better mobility and energy efficiency than other locomotion methods. Hybrids too have been proposed in movies such as I, Robot, where they walk on two legs and switch to four (arms+legs) when going to a sprint. Typically, robots on two legs can walk well on flat floors and can occasionally walk up stairs. None can walk over rocky, uneven terrain. Some of the methods which have been tried are:

The zero moment point (ZMP) is the algorithm used by robots such as Honda’s ASIMO. The robot’s onboard computer tries to keep the total inertial forces (the combination of Earth’s gravity and the acceleration and deceleration of walking), exactly opposed by the floor reaction force (the force of the floor pushing back on the robot’s foot). In this way, the two forces cancel out, leaving no moment (force causing the robot to rotate and fall over).[79] 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.[80][81][82] 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.

Several robots, built in the 1980s by Marc Raibert at the MIT 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. As the robot falls to one side, it would jump slightly in that direction, in order to catch itself.[83] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[84] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[85] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.[86]

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.[87] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots’ Dexter Robot,[88] which is so stable, it can even jump.[89] Another example is the TU Delft Flame.

Perhaps the most promising approach utilizes passive dynamics where the momentum of swinging limbs is used for greater efficiency. It has been shown that totally unpowered humanoid mechanisms can walk down a gentle slope, using only gravity 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. This technique promises to make walking robots at least ten times more efficient than ZMP walkers, like ASIMO.[90][91]

A modern passenger airliner is essentially a flying robot, with two humans to manage it. The autopilot can control the plane for each stage of the journey, including takeoff, normal flight, and even landing.[92] Other flying robots are uninhabited and are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They can be smaller and lighter without a human pilot on board, 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 missiles, 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.

Several snake 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.[93] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[94] can even navigate both on land and in water.[95]

A small number of skating 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.[96] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[97]

Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces. One approach mimics the movements of a human climber on a wall with protrusions; adjusting the center of mass and moving each limb in turn to gain leverage. An example of this is Capuchin,[98] built by Dr. Ruixiang Zhang at Stanford University, California. Another approach uses the specialized toe pad method of wall-climbing geckoes, which can run on smooth surfaces such as vertical glass. Examples of this approach include Wallbot[99] and Stickybot.[100] China’s Technology Daily reported on November 15, 2008, that Dr. Li Hiu Yeung and his research group of New Concept Aircraft (Zhuhai) Co., Ltd. had successfully developed a bionic gecko robot named “Speedy Freelander”. According to Dr. Li, the gecko robot could rapidly climb up and down a variety of building walls, navigate through ground and wall fissures, and walk upside-down on the ceiling. It was also able to adapt to the surfaces of smooth glass, rough, sticky or dusty walls as well as various types of metallic materials. It could also identify and circumvent obstacles automatically. Its flexibility and speed were comparable to a natural gecko. A third approach is to mimic the motion of a snake climbing a pole.[citation needed].

It is calculated that when swimming some fish can achieve a propulsive efficiency greater than 90%.[101] Furthermore, they can accelerate and maneuver far better than any man-made boat or submarine, and produce less noise and water disturbance. Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion.[102] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[103] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[104] The Aqua Penguin,[105] designed and built by Festo of Germany, copies the streamlined shape and propulsion by front “flippers” of penguins. Festo have also built the Aqua Ray and Aqua Jelly, which emulate the locomotion of manta ray, and jellyfish, respectively.

In 2014 iSplash-II was developed by PhD student Richard James Clapham and Prof. Huosheng Hu at Essex University. It was the first robotic fish capable of outperforming real carangiform fish in terms of average maximum velocity (measured in body lengths/ second) and endurance, the duration that top speed is maintained.[106] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e. 3.7m/s).[107] The first build, iSplash-I (2014) was the first robotic platform to apply a full-body length carangiform swimming motion which was found to increase swimming speed by 27% over the traditional approach of a posterior confined waveform.[108]

Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos[109] built by IFREMER and ENSTA-Bretagne. Since the propulsion of sailboat robots uses the wind, the energy of the batteries is only used for the computer, for the communication and for the actuators (to tune the rudder and the sail). If the robot is equipped with solar panels, the robot could theoretically navigate forever. The two main competitions of sailboat robots are WRSC, which takes place every year in Europe, and Sailbot.

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 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 such as ASIMO and Mein robot have particularly good robot navigation hardware and software. Also, self-controlled cars, Ernst Dickmanns’ driverless car, and the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge, are capable of sensing the environment well and subsequently making navigational decisions based on this information. Most of these robots employ a GPS navigation device with waypoints, along with radar, sometimes combined with other sensory data such as lidar, video cameras, and inertial guidance systems for better navigation between waypoints.

The state of the art in sensory intelligence for robots will have to progress through several orders of magnitude if we want the robots working in our homes to go beyond vacuum-cleaning the floors. 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, gestures, and facial expressions, rather than a command-line interface. 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, or Data of Star Trek, Next Generation.

Interpreting the continuous flow of sounds coming from a human, in real time, is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech.[110] The same word, spoken by the same person may sound different depending on local acoustics, volume, the previous word, whether or not the speaker has a cold, etc.. It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent.[111] 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.[112] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[113]

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,[114] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[115][116]

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 gestures 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.[117] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[118]

Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon 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 large number of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and embedded subsurface motors (servos).[119] The coating and servos are built on a metal skull. 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 and the more recent addition, Nexi[120] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[121]

Artificial emotions can also be generated, composed of a sequence of facial expressions and/or gestures. As can be seen from the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the programming of these artificial emotions is complex and requires a large 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.

Many of the robots of science fiction have a personality, something which may or may not be desirable in the commercial robots of the future.[122] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[123][124] 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, a toy robot dinosaur, which can exhibit several apparent emotions.[125]

The Socially Intelligent Machines Lab of the Georgia Institute of Technology researches new concepts of guided teaching interaction with robots. The aim of the projects is a social robot that learns task and goals from human demonstrations without prior knowledge of high-level concepts. These new concepts are grounded from low-level continuous sensor data through unsupervised learning, and task goals are subsequently learned using a Bayesian approach. These concepts can be used to transfer knowledge to future tasks, resulting in faster learning of those tasks. The results are demonstrated by the robot Curi who can scoop some pasta from a pot onto a plate and serve the sauce on top.[126]

The mechanical 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). Sensors 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 be stored or transmitted and to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators (motors) 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 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 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 techniques can be used to build maps of the world. Finally, motion planning and other artificial intelligence 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.

Control systems may also have varying levels of autonomy.

Another classification takes into account the interaction between human control and the machine motions.

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. Other investigations, such as MIT’s cyberflora project, are almost wholly academic.

A first particular new innovation in robot design is the open sourcing 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, Principal Research Scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute 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 and should become available by 2010. Because the first generation robot would be incapable of 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. The third generation robot should have the intelligence comparable to that of a monkey. Though fourth generation robots, robots with human intelligence, professor Moravec predicts, would become possible, he does not predict this happening before around 2040 or 2050.[128]

The second is evolutionary robots. This is a methodology that uses evolutionary computation to help design robots, especially the body form, or motion and behavior controllers. In a similar way to natural evolution, 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. 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,[129] and to explore the nature of evolution.[130] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[131] this technique may be run entirely or mostly in simulation, using a robot simulator software package, then tested on real robots once the evolved algorithms are good enough.[132] Currently, there are about 10 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is the top country having high density of utilizing robots in its manufacturing industry.[citation needed]

The study of motion can be divided into kinematics and dynamics.[133] Direct kinematics refers to the calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity, and acceleration when the corresponding joint values are known. Inverse kinematics 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 avoidance, and singularity avoidance. Once all relevant positions, velocities, and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics, methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of forces 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 simulations of the robot. Inverse dynamics 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.

Bionics and biomimetics apply the physiology and methods of locomotion of animals to the design of robots. For example, the design of BionicKangaroo was based on the way kangaroos jump.

There has been some research into whether robotics algorithms can be run more quickly on quantum computers than they can be run on digital computers. This area has been referred to as quantum robotics.[134]

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[135] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[136] as well as in numerous youth summer camps, raising interest in programming, artificial intelligence, and robotics among students. First-year computer science courses at some universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework.[54]

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[137] Vocational schools offer robotics training aimed at careers in robotics.

The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance (RCSA) is an international robotics certification authority that confers various industry- and educational-related robotics certifications.

Several national summer camp programs include robotics as part of their core curriculum. In addition, youth summer robotics programs are frequently offered by celebrated museums and institutions.

There are lots of competitions all around the globe. One of the most important competitions is the FLL or FIRST Lego League. The idea of this specific competition is that kids start developing knowledge and getting into robotics while playing with Legos since they are 9 years old. This competition is associated with Ni or National Instruments.

Many schools across the country are beginning to add robotics programs to their after school curriculum. Some major programs for afterschool robotics include FIRST Robotics Competition, Botball and B.E.S.T. Robotics.[138] Robotics competitions often include aspects of business and marketing as well as engineering and design.

The Lego company began a program for children to learn and get excited about robotics at a young age.[139]

Robotics is an essential component in many modern manufacturing environments. As factories increase their use of robots, the number of roboticsrelated jobs grow and have been observed to be steadily rising.[140] The employment of robots in industries has increased productivity and efficiency savings and is typically seen as a long term investment for benefactors. A paper by Michael Osborne andCarl Benedikt Freyfound that 47 per cent of US jobs are at risk to automation “over some unspecified number of years”.[141] These claims have been criticized on the ground that social policy, not AI, causes unemployment.[142]

A discussion paper drawn up by EU-OSHA highlights how the spread of robotics presents both opportunities and challenges for occupational safety and health (OSH).[143]

The greatest OSH benefits stemming from the wider use of robotics should be substitution for people working in unhealthy or dangerous environments. In space, defence, security, or the nuclear industry, but also in logistics, maintenance, and inspection, autonomous robots are particularly useful in replacing human workers performing dirty, dull or unsafe tasks, thus avoiding workers’ exposures to hazardous agents and conditions and reducing physical, ergonomic and psychosocial risks. For example, robots are already used to perform repetitive and monotonous tasks, to handle radioactive material or to work in explosive atmospheres. In the future, many other highly repetitive, risky or unpleasant tasks will be performed by robots in a variety of sectors like agriculture, construction, transport, healthcare, firefighting or cleaning services.[144]

Despite these advances, there are certain skills to which humans will be better suited than machines for some time to come and the question is how to achieve the best combination of human and robot skills. The advantages of robotics include heavy-duty jobs with precision and repeatability, whereas the advantages of humans include creativity, decision-making, flexibility and adaptability. This need to combine optimal skills has resulted in collaborative robots and humans sharing a common workspace more closely and led to the development of new approaches and standards to guarantee the safety of the “man-robot merger”. Some European countries are including robotics in their national programmes and trying to promote a safe and flexible co-operation between robots and operators to achieve better productivity. For example, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) organises annual workshops on the topic “human-robot collaboration”.

In future, co-operation between robots and humans will be diversified, with robots increasing their autonomy and human-robot collaboration reaching completely new forms. Current approaches and technical standards[145][146] aiming to protect employees from the risk of working with collaborative robots will have to be revised.

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Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, information engineering, computer science, and others. Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.

These technologies are used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions. Robots can be used in many situations and for lots of purposes, but today many are used in dangerous environments (including bomb detection and deactivation), manufacturing processes, or where humans cannot survive (e.g. in space). Robots can take on any form but some are made to resemble humans in appearance. This is said to help in the acceptance of a robot in certain replicative behaviors usually performed by people. Such robots attempt to replicate walking, lifting, speech, cognition, and basically anything a human can do. Many of today’s robots are inspired by nature, contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.

The concept of creating machines that can 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.[1] Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed that robots will one day be able to mimic human behavior and manage tasks in a human-like fashion. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as technological advances continue; researching, designing, and building new robots serve various practical purposes, whether domestically, commercially, or militarily. Many robots are built to do jobs that are hazardous to people such as defusing bombs, finding survivors in unstable ruins, and exploring mines and shipwrecks. Robotics is also used in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as a teaching aid.

Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering.

The word robotics was derived from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel apek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which was published in 1920.[2] The word robot comes from the Slavic word rabota, which means labour/work. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, creatures who can be mistaken for humans very similar to the modern ideas of androids. Karel apek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother Josef apek as its actual originator.[2]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word robotics was first used in print by Isaac Asimov, in his science fiction short story “Liar!”, published in May 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction. 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 (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942),[3][4] where he introduced his concept of The Three Laws of Robotics. However, the original publication of “Liar!” predates that of “Runaround” by ten months, so the former is generally cited as the word’s origin.

In 1948, Norbert Wiener formulated the principles of cybernetics, the basis of practical robotics.

Fully autonomous only appeared in the second half of the 20th century. The first digitally operated and programmable robot, the Unimate, was installed in 1961 to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Commercial and industrial robots are widespread today and used to perform jobs more cheaply, more accurately and more reliably, than humans. They are also employed in some jobs which are too dirty, dangerous, or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, mining, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, safety, and the mass production of consumer and industrial goods.[5]

There are many types of robots; they are used in many different environments and for many different uses, although being very diverse in application and form they all share three basic similarities when it comes to their construction:

As more and more robots are designed for specific tasks this method of classification becomes more relevant. For example, many robots are designed for assembly work, which may not be readily adaptable for other applications. They are termed as “assembly robots”. For seam welding, some suppliers provide complete welding systems with the robot i.e. the welding equipment along with other material handling facilities like turntables etc. as an integrated unit. Such an integrated robotic system is called a “welding robot” even though its discrete manipulator unit could be adapted to a variety of tasks. Some robots are specifically designed for heavy load manipulation, and are labelled as “heavy duty robots”.

Current and potential applications include:

At present, mostly (leadacid) batteries are used as a power source. Many different types of batteries can be used as a power source for robots. They range from leadacid batteries, which are safe and have relatively long shelf lives but are rather heavy compared to silvercadmium batteries that are much smaller in volume and are currently much more expensive. Designing a battery-powered robot needs to take into account factors such as safety, cycle lifetime and weight. Generators, often some type of internal combustion engine, can also be used. However, such designs are often mechanically complex and need a fuel, require heat dissipation and are relatively heavy. A tether connecting the robot to a power supply would remove the power supply from the robot entirely. This has the advantage of saving weight and space by moving all power generation and storage components elsewhere. However, this design does come with the drawback of constantly having a cable connected to the robot, which can be difficult to manage.[32] Potential power sources could be:

Actuators are the “muscles” of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy into movement. By far the most popular actuators are electric motors that rotate a wheel or gear, and linear actuators that control industrial robots in factories. There are some recent advances in alternative types of actuators, powered by electricity, chemicals, or compressed air.

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 machines. These motors are often preferred in systems with lighter loads, and where the predominant form of motion is rotational.

Various types of linear actuators move in and out instead of by spinning, and often have quicker direction changes, particularly when very large forces are needed such as with industrial robotics. They are typically powered by compressed and oxidized air (pneumatic actuator) or an oil (hydraulic actuator).

A flexure is designed as part of the motor actuator, to improve safety and provide robust force control, energy efficiency, shock absorption (mechanical filtering) while reducing excessive wear on the transmission and other mechanical components. The resultant lower reflected inertia can improve safety when a robot is interacting with humans or during collisions. It has been used in various robots, particularly advanced manufacturing robots and[33] walking humanoid robots.[34]

Pneumatic artificial muscles, also known as air muscles, are special tubes that expand(typically up to 40%) when air is forced inside them. They are used in some robot applications.[35][36][37]

Muscle wire, also known as shape memory alloy, Nitinol or Flexinol wire, is a material which contracts (under 5%) when electricity is applied. They have been used for some small robot applications.[38][39]

EAPs or EPAMs are a new[when?] 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,[40] and to enable new robots to float,[41] fly, swim or walk.[42]

Recent alternatives to DC motors are piezo motors or ultrasonic motors. These work on a fundamentally different principle, whereby tiny piezoceramic 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 step the motor in a circle or a straight line.[43] Another type uses the piezo elements to cause a nut to vibrate or to drive a screw. The advantages of these motors are nanometer resolution, speed, and available force for their size.[44] These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.[45][46]

Elastic nanotubes are a promising artificial muscle technology in early-stage experimental development. The absence of defects in carbon nanotubes enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent, with energy storage levels of perhaps 10J/cm3 for metal nanotubes. Human biceps could be replaced with an 8mm diameter wire of this material. Such compact “muscle” might allow future robots to outrun and outjump humans.[47]

Sensors allow robots to receive information about a certain measurement of the environment, or internal components. This is essential for robots to perform their tasks, and act upon any changes in the environment to calculate the appropriate response. They are used for various forms of measurements, to give the robots warnings about safety or malfunctions, and to provide real-time information of the task it is performing.

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.[48][49] 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 and Israel developed a prosthetic hand in 2009, called SmartHand, which functions like a real oneallowing patients to write with it, type on a keyboard, play piano and perform other fine movements. The prosthesis has sensors which enable the patient to sense real feeling in its fingertips.[50]

Computer vision 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 or infra-red light. The sensors are designed using solid-state physics. The process by which light propagates and reflects off surfaces is explained using optics. Sophisticated image sensors even require quantum mechanics to provide a complete understanding of the image formation process. Robots can also be equipped with multiple vision sensors to be better able to compute the sense of depth in the environment. Like human eyes, robots’ “eyes” must also be able to focus on a particular area of interest, and also adjust to variations in light intensities.

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

Other common forms of sensing in robotics use lidar, radar, and sonar.[citation needed]

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,[51] while the “arm” is referred to as a manipulator.[52] 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.[53]Learning how to manipulate a robot often requires a close feedback between human to the robot, although there are several methods for remote manipulation of robots.[54]

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.[55] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[56] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[57][58] Mechanical grippers can come in various types, including friction and encompassing jaws. Friction jaws use all the force of the gripper to hold the object in place using friction. Encompassing jaws cradle the object in place, using less friction.

Vacuum grippers are very simple astrictive[59] devices that can hold very large loads provided the prehension 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.

Some advanced robots are beginning to use fully humanoid hands, like the Shadow Hand, MANUS,[60] and the Schunk hand.[61] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[62]

For simplicity, most mobile robots have four wheels 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.

Balancing robots generally use a gyroscope to detect how much a robot is falling and then drive the wheels proportionally in the same direction, to counterbalance the fall at hundreds of times per second, based on the dynamics of an inverted pendulum.[63] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[64] While the Segway is not commonly thought of as a robot, it can be thought of as a component of a robot, when used as such Segway refer to them as RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform). An example of this use has been as NASA’s Robonaut that has been mounted on a Segway.[65]

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’s “Ballbot” that is the approximate height and width of a person, and Tohoku Gakuin University’s “BallIP”.[66] 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.[67]

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[68][69] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[70][71] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[72] or a ball bot.[73][74]

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

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”.[75]

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. There has been much study on human inspired walking, such as AMBER lab which was established in 2008 by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University.[76] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[77][78] Walking robots can be used for uneven terrains, which would provide better mobility and energy efficiency than other locomotion methods. Hybrids too have been proposed in movies such as I, Robot, where they walk on two legs and switch to four (arms+legs) when going to a sprint. Typically, robots on two legs can walk well on flat floors and can occasionally walk up stairs. None can walk over rocky, uneven terrain. Some of the methods which have been tried are:

The zero moment point (ZMP) is the algorithm used by robots such as Honda’s ASIMO. The robot’s onboard computer tries to keep the total inertial forces (the combination of Earth’s gravity and the acceleration and deceleration of walking), exactly opposed by the floor reaction force (the force of the floor pushing back on the robot’s foot). In this way, the two forces cancel out, leaving no moment (force causing the robot to rotate and fall over).[79] 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.[80][81][82] 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.

Several robots, built in the 1980s by Marc Raibert at the MIT 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. As the robot falls to one side, it would jump slightly in that direction, in order to catch itself.[83] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[84] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[85] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.[86]

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.[87] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots’ Dexter Robot,[88] which is so stable, it can even jump.[89] Another example is the TU Delft Flame.

Perhaps the most promising approach utilizes passive dynamics where the momentum of swinging limbs is used for greater efficiency. It has been shown that totally unpowered humanoid mechanisms can walk down a gentle slope, using only gravity 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. This technique promises to make walking robots at least ten times more efficient than ZMP walkers, like ASIMO.[90][91]

A modern passenger airliner is essentially a flying robot, with two humans to manage it. The autopilot can control the plane for each stage of the journey, including takeoff, normal flight, and even landing.[92] Other flying robots are uninhabited and are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They can be smaller and lighter without a human pilot on board, 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 missiles, 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.

Several snake 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.[93] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[94] can even navigate both on land and in water.[95]

A small number of skating 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.[96] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[97]

Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces. One approach mimics the movements of a human climber on a wall with protrusions; adjusting the center of mass and moving each limb in turn to gain leverage. An example of this is Capuchin,[98] built by Dr. Ruixiang Zhang at Stanford University, California. Another approach uses the specialized toe pad method of wall-climbing geckoes, which can run on smooth surfaces such as vertical glass. Examples of this approach include Wallbot[99] and Stickybot.[100] China’s Technology Daily reported on November 15, 2008, that Dr. Li Hiu Yeung and his research group of New Concept Aircraft (Zhuhai) Co., Ltd. had successfully developed a bionic gecko robot named “Speedy Freelander”. According to Dr. Li, the gecko robot could rapidly climb up and down a variety of building walls, navigate through ground and wall fissures, and walk upside-down on the ceiling. It was also able to adapt to the surfaces of smooth glass, rough, sticky or dusty walls as well as various types of metallic materials. It could also identify and circumvent obstacles automatically. Its flexibility and speed were comparable to a natural gecko. A third approach is to mimic the motion of a snake climbing a pole.[citation needed].

It is calculated that when swimming some fish can achieve a propulsive efficiency greater than 90%.[101] Furthermore, they can accelerate and maneuver far better than any man-made boat or submarine, and produce less noise and water disturbance. Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion.[102] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[103] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[104] The Aqua Penguin,[105] designed and built by Festo of Germany, copies the streamlined shape and propulsion by front “flippers” of penguins. Festo have also built the Aqua Ray and Aqua Jelly, which emulate the locomotion of manta ray, and jellyfish, respectively.

In 2014 iSplash-II was developed by PhD student Richard James Clapham and Prof. Huosheng Hu at Essex University. It was the first robotic fish capable of outperforming real carangiform fish in terms of average maximum velocity (measured in body lengths/ second) and endurance, the duration that top speed is maintained.[106] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e. 3.7m/s).[107] The first build, iSplash-I (2014) was the first robotic platform to apply a full-body length carangiform swimming motion which was found to increase swimming speed by 27% over the traditional approach of a posterior confined waveform.[108]

Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos[109] built by IFREMER and ENSTA-Bretagne. Since the propulsion of sailboat robots uses the wind, the energy of the batteries is only used for the computer, for the communication and for the actuators (to tune the rudder and the sail). If the robot is equipped with solar panels, the robot could theoretically navigate forever. The two main competitions of sailboat robots are WRSC, which takes place every year in Europe, and Sailbot.

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 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 such as ASIMO and Mein robot have particularly good robot navigation hardware and software. Also, self-controlled cars, Ernst Dickmanns’ driverless car, and the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge, are capable of sensing the environment well and subsequently making navigational decisions based on this information. Most of these robots employ a GPS navigation device with waypoints, along with radar, sometimes combined with other sensory data such as lidar, video cameras, and inertial guidance systems for better navigation between waypoints.

The state of the art in sensory intelligence for robots will have to progress through several orders of magnitude if we want the robots working in our homes to go beyond vacuum-cleaning the floors. 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, gestures, and facial expressions, rather than a command-line interface. 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, or Data of Star Trek, Next Generation.

Interpreting the continuous flow of sounds coming from a human, in real time, is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech.[110] The same word, spoken by the same person may sound different depending on local acoustics, volume, the previous word, whether or not the speaker has a cold, etc.. It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent.[111] 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.[112] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[113]

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,[114] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[115][116]

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 gestures 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.[117] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[118]

Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon 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 large number of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and embedded subsurface motors (servos).[119] The coating and servos are built on a metal skull. 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 and the more recent addition, Nexi[120] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[121]

Artificial emotions can also be generated, composed of a sequence of facial expressions and/or gestures. As can be seen from the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the programming of these artificial emotions is complex and requires a large 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.

Many of the robots of science fiction have a personality, something which may or may not be desirable in the commercial robots of the future.[122] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[123][124] 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, a toy robot dinosaur, which can exhibit several apparent emotions.[125]

The Socially Intelligent Machines Lab of the Georgia Institute of Technology researches new concepts of guided teaching interaction with robots. The aim of the projects is a social robot that learns task and goals from human demonstrations without prior knowledge of high-level concepts. These new concepts are grounded from low-level continuous sensor data through unsupervised learning, and task goals are subsequently learned using a Bayesian approach. These concepts can be used to transfer knowledge to future tasks, resulting in faster learning of those tasks. The results are demonstrated by the robot Curi who can scoop some pasta from a pot onto a plate and serve the sauce on top.[126]

The mechanical 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). Sensors 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 be stored or transmitted and to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators (motors) 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 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 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 techniques can be used to build maps of the world. Finally, motion planning and other artificial intelligence 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.

Control systems may also have varying levels of autonomy.

Another classification takes into account the interaction between human control and the machine motions.

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. Other investigations, such as MIT’s cyberflora project, are almost wholly academic.

A first particular new innovation in robot design is the open sourcing 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, Principal Research Scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute 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 and should become available by 2010. Because the first generation robot would be incapable of 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. The third generation robot should have the intelligence comparable to that of a monkey. Though fourth generation robots, robots with human intelligence, professor Moravec predicts, would become possible, he does not predict this happening before around 2040 or 2050.[128]

The second is evolutionary robots. This is a methodology that uses evolutionary computation to help design robots, especially the body form, or motion and behavior controllers. In a similar way to natural evolution, 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. 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,[129] and to explore the nature of evolution.[130] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[131] this technique may be run entirely or mostly in simulation, using a robot simulator software package, then tested on real robots once the evolved algorithms are good enough.[132] Currently, there are about 10 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is the top country having high density of utilizing robots in its manufacturing industry.[citation needed]

The study of motion can be divided into kinematics and dynamics.[133] Direct kinematics refers to the calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity, and acceleration when the corresponding joint values are known. Inverse kinematics 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 avoidance, and singularity avoidance. Once all relevant positions, velocities, and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics, methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of forces 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 simulations of the robot. Inverse dynamics 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.

Bionics and biomimetics apply the physiology and methods of locomotion of animals to the design of robots. For example, the design of BionicKangaroo was based on the way kangaroos jump.

There has been some research into whether robotics algorithms can be run more quickly on quantum computers than they can be run on digital computers. This area has been referred to as quantum robotics.[134]

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[135] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[136] as well as in numerous youth summer camps, raising interest in programming, artificial intelligence, and robotics among students. First-year computer science courses at some universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework.[54]

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[137] Vocational schools offer robotics training aimed at careers in robotics.

The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance (RCSA) is an international robotics certification authority that confers various industry- and educational-related robotics certifications.

Several national summer camp programs include robotics as part of their core curriculum. In addition, youth summer robotics programs are frequently offered by celebrated museums and institutions.

There are lots of competitions all around the globe. One of the most important competitions is the FLL or FIRST Lego League. The idea of this specific competition is that kids start developing knowledge and getting into robotics while playing with Legos since they are 9 years old. This competition is associated with Ni or National Instruments.

Many schools across the country are beginning to add robotics programs to their after school curriculum. Some major programs for afterschool robotics include FIRST Robotics Competition, Botball and B.E.S.T. Robotics.[138] Robotics competitions often include aspects of business and marketing as well as engineering and design.

The Lego company began a program for children to learn and get excited about robotics at a young age.[139]

Robotics is an essential component in many modern manufacturing environments. As factories increase their use of robots, the number of roboticsrelated jobs grow and have been observed to be steadily rising.[140] The employment of robots in industries has increased productivity and efficiency savings and is typically seen as a long term investment for benefactors. A paper by Michael Osborne andCarl Benedikt Freyfound that 47 per cent of US jobs are at risk to automation “over some unspecified number of years”.[141] These claims have been criticized on the ground that social policy, not AI, causes unemployment.[142]

A discussion paper drawn up by EU-OSHA highlights how the spread of robotics presents both opportunities and challenges for occupational safety and health (OSH).[143]

The greatest OSH benefits stemming from the wider use of robotics should be substitution for people working in unhealthy or dangerous environments. In space, defence, security, or the nuclear industry, but also in logistics, maintenance, and inspection, autonomous robots are particularly useful in replacing human workers performing dirty, dull or unsafe tasks, thus avoiding workers’ exposures to hazardous agents and conditions and reducing physical, ergonomic and psychosocial risks. For example, robots are already used to perform repetitive and monotonous tasks, to handle radioactive material or to work in explosive atmospheres. In the future, many other highly repetitive, risky or unpleasant tasks will be performed by robots in a variety of sectors like agriculture, construction, transport, healthcare, firefighting or cleaning services.[144]

Despite these advances, there are certain skills to which humans will be better suited than machines for some time to come and the question is how to achieve the best combination of human and robot skills. The advantages of robotics include heavy-duty jobs with precision and repeatability, whereas the advantages of humans include creativity, decision-making, flexibility and adaptability. This need to combine optimal skills has resulted in collaborative robots and humans sharing a common workspace more closely and led to the development of new approaches and standards to guarantee the safety of the “man-robot merger”. Some European countries are including robotics in their national programmes and trying to promote a safe and flexible co-operation between robots and operators to achieve better productivity. For example, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) organises annual workshops on the topic “human-robot collaboration”.

In future, co-operation between robots and humans will be diversified, with robots increasing their autonomy and human-robot collaboration reaching completely new forms. Current approaches and technical standards[145][146] aiming to protect employees from the risk of working with collaborative robots will have to be revised.

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Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics – News, Reviews, Features – New Atlas – New …

Rich Haridy October 16, 2018

Boston Dynamics is having a busy week, hot on the heels of its video showing Atlas mastering parkour, and the four-legged Spot wandering construction sites, it has released another video. This one unveils a lighter side to its robots, with Spot dropping some impressive dance moves to Uptown Funk.

Link:

Robotics – News, Reviews, Features – New Atlas – New …

NASA – Robotics Alliance Project

One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA’s Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater.

The thin atmosphere makes these storms vastly different from anything encountered on Earth: Despite the drama of “The Martian,” the most powerful surface winds encountered on Mars would not topple a spacecraft, although they can sand-blast dust particles into the atmosphere.

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NASA – Robotics Alliance Project

Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, information engineering, computer science, and others. Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.

These technologies are used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions. Robots can be used in many situations and for lots of purposes, but today many are used in dangerous environments (including bomb detection and deactivation), manufacturing processes, or where humans cannot survive (e.g. in space). Robots can take on any form but some are made to resemble humans in appearance. This is said to help in the acceptance of a robot in certain replicative behaviors usually performed by people. Such robots attempt to replicate walking, lifting, speech, cognition, and basically anything a human can do. Many of today’s robots are inspired by nature, contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.

The concept of creating machines that can 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.[1] Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed that robots will one day be able to mimic human behavior and manage tasks in a human-like fashion. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as technological advances continue; researching, designing, and building new robots serve various practical purposes, whether domestically, commercially, or militarily. Many robots are built to do jobs that are hazardous to people such as defusing bombs, finding survivors in unstable ruins, and exploring mines and shipwrecks. Robotics is also used in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as a teaching aid.

Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering.

The word robotics was derived from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel apek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which was published in 1920.[2] The word robot comes from the Slavic word rabota, which means labour/work. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, creatures who can be mistaken for humans very similar to the modern ideas of androids. Karel apek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother Josef apek as its actual originator.[2]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word robotics was first used in print by Isaac Asimov, in his science fiction short story “Liar!”, published in May 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction. 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 (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942),[3][4] where he introduced his concept of The Three Laws of Robotics. However, the original publication of “Liar!” predates that of “Runaround” by ten months, so the former is generally cited as the word’s origin.

In 1948, Norbert Wiener formulated the principles of cybernetics, the basis of practical robotics.

Fully autonomous only appeared in the second half of the 20th century. The first digitally operated and programmable robot, the Unimate, was installed in 1961 to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Commercial and industrial robots are widespread today and used to perform jobs more cheaply, more accurately and more reliably, than humans. They are also employed in some jobs which are too dirty, dangerous, or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, mining, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, safety, and the mass production of consumer and industrial goods.[5]

There are many types of robots; they are used in many different environments and for many different uses, although being very diverse in application and form they all share three basic similarities when it comes to their construction:

As more and more robots are designed for specific tasks this method of classification becomes more relevant. For example, many robots are designed for assembly work, which may not be readily adaptable for other applications. They are termed as “assembly robots”. For seam welding, some suppliers provide complete welding systems with the robot i.e. the welding equipment along with other material handling facilities like turntables etc. as an integrated unit. Such an integrated robotic system is called a “welding robot” even though its discrete manipulator unit could be adapted to a variety of tasks. Some robots are specifically designed for heavy load manipulation, and are labelled as “heavy duty robots”.

Current and potential applications include:

At present, mostly (leadacid) batteries are used as a power source. Many different types of batteries can be used as a power source for robots. They range from leadacid batteries, which are safe and have relatively long shelf lives but are rather heavy compared to silvercadmium batteries that are much smaller in volume and are currently much more expensive. Designing a battery-powered robot needs to take into account factors such as safety, cycle lifetime and weight. Generators, often some type of internal combustion engine, can also be used. However, such designs are often mechanically complex and need a fuel, require heat dissipation and are relatively heavy. A tether connecting the robot to a power supply would remove the power supply from the robot entirely. This has the advantage of saving weight and space by moving all power generation and storage components elsewhere. However, this design does come with the drawback of constantly having a cable connected to the robot, which can be difficult to manage.[32] Potential power sources could be:

Actuators are the “muscles” of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy into movement. By far the most popular actuators are electric motors that rotate a wheel or gear, and linear actuators that control industrial robots in factories. There are some recent advances in alternative types of actuators, powered by electricity, chemicals, or compressed air.

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 machines. These motors are often preferred in systems with lighter loads, and where the predominant form of motion is rotational.

Various types of linear actuators move in and out instead of by spinning, and often have quicker direction changes, particularly when very large forces are needed such as with industrial robotics. They are typically powered by compressed and oxidized air (pneumatic actuator) or an oil (hydraulic actuator).

A flexure is designed as part of the motor actuator, to improve safety and provide robust force control, energy efficiency, shock absorption (mechanical filtering) while reducing excessive wear on the transmission and other mechanical components. The resultant lower reflected inertia can improve safety when a robot is interacting with humans or during collisions. It has been used in various robots, particularly advanced manufacturing robots and[33] walking humanoid robots.[34]

Pneumatic artificial muscles, also known as air muscles, are special tubes that expand(typically up to 40%) when air is forced inside them. They are used in some robot applications.[35][36][37]

Muscle wire, also known as shape memory alloy, Nitinol or Flexinol wire, is a material which contracts (under 5%) when electricity is applied. They have been used for some small robot applications.[38][39]

EAPs or EPAMs are a new[when?] 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,[40] and to enable new robots to float,[41] fly, swim or walk.[42]

Recent alternatives to DC motors are piezo motors or ultrasonic motors. These work on a fundamentally different principle, whereby tiny piezoceramic 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 step the motor in a circle or a straight line.[43] Another type uses the piezo elements to cause a nut to vibrate or to drive a screw. The advantages of these motors are nanometer resolution, speed, and available force for their size.[44] These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.[45][46]

Elastic nanotubes are a promising artificial muscle technology in early-stage experimental development. The absence of defects in carbon nanotubes enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent, with energy storage levels of perhaps 10J/cm3 for metal nanotubes. Human biceps could be replaced with an 8mm diameter wire of this material. Such compact “muscle” might allow future robots to outrun and outjump humans.[47]

Sensors allow robots to receive information about a certain measurement of the environment, or internal components. This is essential for robots to perform their tasks, and act upon any changes in the environment to calculate the appropriate response. They are used for various forms of measurements, to give the robots warnings about safety or malfunctions, and to provide real-time information of the task it is performing.

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.[48][49] 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 and Israel developed a prosthetic hand in 2009, called SmartHand, which functions like a real oneallowing patients to write with it, type on a keyboard, play piano and perform other fine movements. The prosthesis has sensors which enable the patient to sense real feeling in its fingertips.[50]

Computer vision 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 or infra-red light. The sensors are designed using solid-state physics. The process by which light propagates and reflects off surfaces is explained using optics. Sophisticated image sensors even require quantum mechanics to provide a complete understanding of the image formation process. Robots can also be equipped with multiple vision sensors to be better able to compute the sense of depth in the environment. Like human eyes, robots’ “eyes” must also be able to focus on a particular area of interest, and also adjust to variations in light intensities.

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

Other common forms of sensing in robotics use lidar, radar, and sonar.[citation needed]

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,[51] while the “arm” is referred to as a manipulator.[52] 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.[53]Learning how to manipulate a robot often requires a close feedback between human to the robot, although there are several methods for remote manipulation of robots.[54]

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.[55] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[56] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[57][58] Mechanical grippers can come in various types, including friction and encompassing jaws. Friction jaws use all the force of the gripper to hold the object in place using friction. Encompassing jaws cradle the object in place, using less friction.

Vacuum grippers are very simple astrictive[59] devices that can hold very large loads provided the prehension 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.

Some advanced robots are beginning to use fully humanoid hands, like the Shadow Hand, MANUS,[60] and the Schunk hand.[61] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[62]

For simplicity, most mobile robots have four wheels 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.

Balancing robots generally use a gyroscope to detect how much a robot is falling and then drive the wheels proportionally in the same direction, to counterbalance the fall at hundreds of times per second, based on the dynamics of an inverted pendulum.[63] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[64] While the Segway is not commonly thought of as a robot, it can be thought of as a component of a robot, when used as such Segway refer to them as RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform). An example of this use has been as NASA’s Robonaut that has been mounted on a Segway.[65]

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’s “Ballbot” that is the approximate height and width of a person, and Tohoku Gakuin University’s “BallIP”.[66] 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.[67]

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[68][69] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[70][71] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[72] or a ball bot.[73][74]

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

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”.[75]

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. There has been much study on human inspired walking, such as AMBER lab which was established in 2008 by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University.[76] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[77][78] Walking robots can be used for uneven terrains, which would provide better mobility and energy efficiency than other locomotion methods. Hybrids too have been proposed in movies such as I, Robot, where they walk on two legs and switch to four (arms+legs) when going to a sprint. Typically, robots on two legs can walk well on flat floors and can occasionally walk up stairs. None can walk over rocky, uneven terrain. Some of the methods which have been tried are:

The zero moment point (ZMP) is the algorithm used by robots such as Honda’s ASIMO. The robot’s onboard computer tries to keep the total inertial forces (the combination of Earth’s gravity and the acceleration and deceleration of walking), exactly opposed by the floor reaction force (the force of the floor pushing back on the robot’s foot). In this way, the two forces cancel out, leaving no moment (force causing the robot to rotate and fall over).[79] 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.[80][81][82] 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.

Several robots, built in the 1980s by Marc Raibert at the MIT 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. As the robot falls to one side, it would jump slightly in that direction, in order to catch itself.[83] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[84] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[85] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.[86]

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.[87] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots’ Dexter Robot,[88] which is so stable, it can even jump.[89] Another example is the TU Delft Flame.

Perhaps the most promising approach utilizes passive dynamics where the momentum of swinging limbs is used for greater efficiency. It has been shown that totally unpowered humanoid mechanisms can walk down a gentle slope, using only gravity 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. This technique promises to make walking robots at least ten times more efficient than ZMP walkers, like ASIMO.[90][91]

A modern passenger airliner is essentially a flying robot, with two humans to manage it. The autopilot can control the plane for each stage of the journey, including takeoff, normal flight, and even landing.[92] Other flying robots are uninhabited and are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They can be smaller and lighter without a human pilot on board, 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 missiles, 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.

Several snake 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.[93] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[94] can even navigate both on land and in water.[95]

A small number of skating 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.[96] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[97]

Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces. One approach mimics the movements of a human climber on a wall with protrusions; adjusting the center of mass and moving each limb in turn to gain leverage. An example of this is Capuchin,[98] built by Dr. Ruixiang Zhang at Stanford University, California. Another approach uses the specialized toe pad method of wall-climbing geckoes, which can run on smooth surfaces such as vertical glass. Examples of this approach include Wallbot[99] and Stickybot.[100] China’s Technology Daily reported on November 15, 2008, that Dr. Li Hiu Yeung and his research group of New Concept Aircraft (Zhuhai) Co., Ltd. had successfully developed a bionic gecko robot named “Speedy Freelander”. According to Dr. Li, the gecko robot could rapidly climb up and down a variety of building walls, navigate through ground and wall fissures, and walk upside-down on the ceiling. It was also able to adapt to the surfaces of smooth glass, rough, sticky or dusty walls as well as various types of metallic materials. It could also identify and circumvent obstacles automatically. Its flexibility and speed were comparable to a natural gecko. A third approach is to mimic the motion of a snake climbing a pole.[citation needed].

It is calculated that when swimming some fish can achieve a propulsive efficiency greater than 90%.[101] Furthermore, they can accelerate and maneuver far better than any man-made boat or submarine, and produce less noise and water disturbance. Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion.[102] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[103] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[104] The Aqua Penguin,[105] designed and built by Festo of Germany, copies the streamlined shape and propulsion by front “flippers” of penguins. Festo have also built the Aqua Ray and Aqua Jelly, which emulate the locomotion of manta ray, and jellyfish, respectively.

In 2014 iSplash-II was developed by PhD student Richard James Clapham and Prof. Huosheng Hu at Essex University. It was the first robotic fish capable of outperforming real carangiform fish in terms of average maximum velocity (measured in body lengths/ second) and endurance, the duration that top speed is maintained.[106] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e. 3.7m/s).[107] The first build, iSplash-I (2014) was the first robotic platform to apply a full-body length carangiform swimming motion which was found to increase swimming speed by 27% over the traditional approach of a posterior confined waveform.[108]

Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos[109] built by IFREMER and ENSTA-Bretagne. Since the propulsion of sailboat robots uses the wind, the energy of the batteries is only used for the computer, for the communication and for the actuators (to tune the rudder and the sail). If the robot is equipped with solar panels, the robot could theoretically navigate forever. The two main competitions of sailboat robots are WRSC, which takes place every year in Europe, and Sailbot.

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 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 such as ASIMO and Mein robot have particularly good robot navigation hardware and software. Also, self-controlled cars, Ernst Dickmanns’ driverless car, and the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge, are capable of sensing the environment well and subsequently making navigational decisions based on this information. Most of these robots employ a GPS navigation device with waypoints, along with radar, sometimes combined with other sensory data such as lidar, video cameras, and inertial guidance systems for better navigation between waypoints.

The state of the art in sensory intelligence for robots will have to progress through several orders of magnitude if we want the robots working in our homes to go beyond vacuum-cleaning the floors. 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, gestures, and facial expressions, rather than a command-line interface. 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, or Data of Star Trek, Next Generation.

Interpreting the continuous flow of sounds coming from a human, in real time, is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech.[110] The same word, spoken by the same person may sound different depending on local acoustics, volume, the previous word, whether or not the speaker has a cold, etc.. It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent.[111] 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.[112] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[113]

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,[114] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[115][116]

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 gestures 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.[117] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[118]

Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon 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 large number of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and embedded subsurface motors (servos).[119] The coating and servos are built on a metal skull. 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 and the more recent addition, Nexi[120] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[121]

Artificial emotions can also be generated, composed of a sequence of facial expressions and/or gestures. As can be seen from the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the programming of these artificial emotions is complex and requires a large 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.

Many of the robots of science fiction have a personality, something which may or may not be desirable in the commercial robots of the future.[122] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[123][124] 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, a toy robot dinosaur, which can exhibit several apparent emotions.[125]

The Socially Intelligent Machines Lab of the Georgia Institute of Technology researches new concepts of guided teaching interaction with robots. The aim of the projects is a social robot that learns task and goals from human demonstrations without prior knowledge of high-level concepts. These new concepts are grounded from low-level continuous sensor data through unsupervised learning, and task goals are subsequently learned using a Bayesian approach. These concepts can be used to transfer knowledge to future tasks, resulting in faster learning of those tasks. The results are demonstrated by the robot Curi who can scoop some pasta from a pot onto a plate and serve the sauce on top.[126]

The mechanical 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). Sensors 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 be stored or transmitted and to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators (motors) 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 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 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 techniques can be used to build maps of the world. Finally, motion planning and other artificial intelligence 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.

Control systems may also have varying levels of autonomy.

Another classification takes into account the interaction between human control and the machine motions.

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. Other investigations, such as MIT’s cyberflora project, are almost wholly academic.

A first particular new innovation in robot design is the open sourcing 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, Principal Research Scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute 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 and should become available by 2010. Because the first generation robot would be incapable of 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. The third generation robot should have the intelligence comparable to that of a monkey. Though fourth generation robots, robots with human intelligence, professor Moravec predicts, would become possible, he does not predict this happening before around 2040 or 2050.[128]

The second is evolutionary robots. This is a methodology that uses evolutionary computation to help design robots, especially the body form, or motion and behavior controllers. In a similar way to natural evolution, 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. 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,[129] and to explore the nature of evolution.[130] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[131] this technique may be run entirely or mostly in simulation, using a robot simulator software package, then tested on real robots once the evolved algorithms are good enough.[132] Currently, there are about 10 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is the top country having high density of utilizing robots in its manufacturing industry.[citation needed]

The study of motion can be divided into kinematics and dynamics.[133] Direct kinematics refers to the calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity, and acceleration when the corresponding joint values are known. Inverse kinematics 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 avoidance, and singularity avoidance. Once all relevant positions, velocities, and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics, methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of forces 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 simulations of the robot. Inverse dynamics 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.

Bionics and biomimetics apply the physiology and methods of locomotion of animals to the design of robots. For example, the design of BionicKangaroo was based on the way kangaroos jump.

There has been some research into whether robotics algorithms can be run more quickly on quantum computers than they can be run on digital computers. This area has been referred to as quantum robotics.[134]

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[135] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[136] as well as in numerous youth summer camps, raising interest in programming, artificial intelligence, and robotics among students. First-year computer science courses at some universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework.[54]

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[137] Vocational schools offer robotics training aimed at careers in robotics.

The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance (RCSA) is an international robotics certification authority that confers various industry- and educational-related robotics certifications.

Several national summer camp programs include robotics as part of their core curriculum. In addition, youth summer robotics programs are frequently offered by celebrated museums and institutions.

There are lots of competitions all around the globe. One of the most important competitions is the FLL or FIRST Lego League. The idea of this specific competition is that kids start developing knowledge and getting into robotics while playing with Legos since they are 9 years old. This competition is associated with Ni or National Instruments.

Many schools across the country are beginning to add robotics programs to their after school curriculum. Some major programs for afterschool robotics include FIRST Robotics Competition, Botball and B.E.S.T. Robotics.[138] Robotics competitions often include aspects of business and marketing as well as engineering and design.

The Lego company began a program for children to learn and get excited about robotics at a young age.[139]

Robotics is an essential component in many modern manufacturing environments. As factories increase their use of robots, the number of roboticsrelated jobs grow and have been observed to be steadily rising.[140] The employment of robots in industries has increased productivity and efficiency savings and is typically seen as a long term investment for benefactors. A paper by Michael Osborne andCarl Benedikt Freyfound that 47 per cent of US jobs are at risk to automation “over some unspecified number of years”.[141] These claims have been criticized on the ground that social policy, not AI, causes unemployment.[142]

A discussion paper drawn up by EU-OSHA highlights how the spread of robotics presents both opportunities and challenges for occupational safety and health (OSH).[143]

The greatest OSH benefits stemming from the wider use of robotics should be substitution for people working in unhealthy or dangerous environments. In space, defence, security, or the nuclear industry, but also in logistics, maintenance, and inspection, autonomous robots are particularly useful in replacing human workers performing dirty, dull or unsafe tasks, thus avoiding workers’ exposures to hazardous agents and conditions and reducing physical, ergonomic and psychosocial risks. For example, robots are already used to perform repetitive and monotonous tasks, to handle radioactive material or to work in explosive atmospheres. In the future, many other highly repetitive, risky or unpleasant tasks will be performed by robots in a variety of sectors like agriculture, construction, transport, healthcare, firefighting or cleaning services.[144]

Despite these advances, there are certain skills to which humans will be better suited than machines for some time to come and the question is how to achieve the best combination of human and robot skills. The advantages of robotics include heavy-duty jobs with precision and repeatability, whereas the advantages of humans include creativity, decision-making, flexibility and adaptability. This need to combine optimal skills has resulted in collaborative robots and humans sharing a common workspace more closely and led to the development of new approaches and standards to guarantee the safety of the “man-robot merger”. Some European countries are including robotics in their national programmes and trying to promote a safe and flexible co-operation between robots and operators to achieve better productivity. For example, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) organises annual workshops on the topic “human-robot collaboration”.

In future, co-operation between robots and humans will be diversified, with robots increasing their autonomy and human-robot collaboration reaching completely new forms. Current approaches and technical standards[145][146] aiming to protect employees from the risk of working with collaborative robots will have to be revised.

Continued here:

Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics – News, Reviews, Features – New Atlas – New …

Rich Haridy October 16, 2018

Boston Dynamics is having a busy week, hot on the heels of its video showing Atlas mastering parkour, and the four-legged Spot wandering construction sites, it has released another video. This one unveils a lighter side to its robots, with Spot dropping some impressive dance moves to Uptown Funk.

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Robotics – News, Reviews, Features – New Atlas – New …

NASA – Robotics Alliance Project

One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA’s Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater.

The thin atmosphere makes these storms vastly different from anything encountered on Earth: Despite the drama of “The Martian,” the most powerful surface winds encountered on Mars would not topple a spacecraft, although they can sand-blast dust particles into the atmosphere.

+More Infomation

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NASA – Robotics Alliance Project

Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, information engineering, computer science, and others. Robotics deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.

These technologies are used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions. Robots can be used in many situations and for lots of purposes, but today many are used in dangerous environments (including bomb detection and deactivation), manufacturing processes, or where humans cannot survive (e.g. in space). Robots can take on any form but some are made to resemble humans in appearance. This is said to help in the acceptance of a robot in certain replicative behaviors usually performed by people. Such robots attempt to replicate walking, lifting, speech, cognition, and basically anything a human can do. Many of today’s robots are inspired by nature, contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.

The concept of creating machines that can 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.[1] Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed that robots will one day be able to mimic human behavior and manage tasks in a human-like fashion. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as technological advances continue; researching, designing, and building new robots serve various practical purposes, whether domestically, commercially, or militarily. Many robots are built to do jobs that are hazardous to people such as defusing bombs, finding survivors in unstable ruins, and exploring mines and shipwrecks. Robotics is also used in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as a teaching aid.

Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering.

The word robotics was derived from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel apek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which was published in 1920.[2] The word robot comes from the Slavic word rabota, which means labour/work. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, creatures who can be mistaken for humans very similar to the modern ideas of androids. Karel apek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother Josef apek as its actual originator.[2]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word robotics was first used in print by Isaac Asimov, in his science fiction short story “Liar!”, published in May 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction. 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 (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942),[3][4] where he introduced his concept of The Three Laws of Robotics. However, the original publication of “Liar!” predates that of “Runaround” by ten months, so the former is generally cited as the word’s origin.

In 1948, Norbert Wiener formulated the principles of cybernetics, the basis of practical robotics.

Fully autonomous only appeared in the second half of the 20th century. The first digitally operated and programmable robot, the Unimate, was installed in 1961 to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Commercial and industrial robots are widespread today and used to perform jobs more cheaply, more accurately and more reliably, than humans. They are also employed in some jobs which are too dirty, dangerous, or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, mining, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, safety, and the mass production of consumer and industrial goods.[5]

There are many types of robots; they are used in many different environments and for many different uses, although being very diverse in application and form they all share three basic similarities when it comes to their construction:

As more and more robots are designed for specific tasks this method of classification becomes more relevant. For example, many robots are designed for assembly work, which may not be readily adaptable for other applications. They are termed as “assembly robots”. For seam welding, some suppliers provide complete welding systems with the robot i.e. the welding equipment along with other material handling facilities like turntables etc. as an integrated unit. Such an integrated robotic system is called a “welding robot” even though its discrete manipulator unit could be adapted to a variety of tasks. Some robots are specifically designed for heavy load manipulation, and are labelled as “heavy duty robots”.

Current and potential applications include:

At present, mostly (leadacid) batteries are used as a power source. Many different types of batteries can be used as a power source for robots. They range from leadacid batteries, which are safe and have relatively long shelf lives but are rather heavy compared to silvercadmium batteries that are much smaller in volume and are currently much more expensive. Designing a battery-powered robot needs to take into account factors such as safety, cycle lifetime and weight. Generators, often some type of internal combustion engine, can also be used. However, such designs are often mechanically complex and need a fuel, require heat dissipation and are relatively heavy. A tether connecting the robot to a power supply would remove the power supply from the robot entirely. This has the advantage of saving weight and space by moving all power generation and storage components elsewhere. However, this design does come with the drawback of constantly having a cable connected to the robot, which can be difficult to manage.[32] Potential power sources could be:

Actuators are the “muscles” of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy into movement. By far the most popular actuators are electric motors that rotate a wheel or gear, and linear actuators that control industrial robots in factories. There are some recent advances in alternative types of actuators, powered by electricity, chemicals, or compressed air.

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 machines. These motors are often preferred in systems with lighter loads, and where the predominant form of motion is rotational.

Various types of linear actuators move in and out instead of by spinning, and often have quicker direction changes, particularly when very large forces are needed such as with industrial robotics. They are typically powered by compressed and oxidized air (pneumatic actuator) or an oil (hydraulic actuator).

A flexure is designed as part of the motor actuator, to improve safety and provide robust force control, energy efficiency, shock absorption (mechanical filtering) while reducing excessive wear on the transmission and other mechanical components. The resultant lower reflected inertia can improve safety when a robot is interacting with humans or during collisions. It has been used in various robots, particularly advanced manufacturing robots and[33] walking humanoid robots.[34]

Pneumatic artificial muscles, also known as air muscles, are special tubes that expand(typically up to 40%) when air is forced inside them. They are used in some robot applications.[35][36][37]

Muscle wire, also known as shape memory alloy, Nitinol or Flexinol wire, is a material which contracts (under 5%) when electricity is applied. They have been used for some small robot applications.[38][39]

EAPs or EPAMs are a new[when?] 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,[40] and to enable new robots to float,[41] fly, swim or walk.[42]

Recent alternatives to DC motors are piezo motors or ultrasonic motors. These work on a fundamentally different principle, whereby tiny piezoceramic 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 step the motor in a circle or a straight line.[43] Another type uses the piezo elements to cause a nut to vibrate or to drive a screw. The advantages of these motors are nanometer resolution, speed, and available force for their size.[44] These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.[45][46]

Elastic nanotubes are a promising artificial muscle technology in early-stage experimental development. The absence of defects in carbon nanotubes enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent, with energy storage levels of perhaps 10J/cm3 for metal nanotubes. Human biceps could be replaced with an 8mm diameter wire of this material. Such compact “muscle” might allow future robots to outrun and outjump humans.[47]

Sensors allow robots to receive information about a certain measurement of the environment, or internal components. This is essential for robots to perform their tasks, and act upon any changes in the environment to calculate the appropriate response. They are used for various forms of measurements, to give the robots warnings about safety or malfunctions, and to provide real-time information of the task it is performing.

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.[48][49] 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 and Israel developed a prosthetic hand in 2009, called SmartHand, which functions like a real oneallowing patients to write with it, type on a keyboard, play piano and perform other fine movements. The prosthesis has sensors which enable the patient to sense real feeling in its fingertips.[50]

Computer vision 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 or infra-red light. The sensors are designed using solid-state physics. The process by which light propagates and reflects off surfaces is explained using optics. Sophisticated image sensors even require quantum mechanics to provide a complete understanding of the image formation process. Robots can also be equipped with multiple vision sensors to be better able to compute the sense of depth in the environment. Like human eyes, robots’ “eyes” must also be able to focus on a particular area of interest, and also adjust to variations in light intensities.

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

Other common forms of sensing in robotics use lidar, radar, and sonar.[citation needed]

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,[51] while the “arm” is referred to as a manipulator.[52] 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.[53]Learning how to manipulate a robot often requires a close feedback between human to the robot, although there are several methods for remote manipulation of robots.[54]

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.[55] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[56] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[57][58] Mechanical grippers can come in various types, including friction and encompassing jaws. Friction jaws use all the force of the gripper to hold the object in place using friction. Encompassing jaws cradle the object in place, using less friction.

Vacuum grippers are very simple astrictive[59] devices that can hold very large loads provided the prehension 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.

Some advanced robots are beginning to use fully humanoid hands, like the Shadow Hand, MANUS,[60] and the Schunk hand.[61] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[62]

For simplicity, most mobile robots have four wheels 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.

Balancing robots generally use a gyroscope to detect how much a robot is falling and then drive the wheels proportionally in the same direction, to counterbalance the fall at hundreds of times per second, based on the dynamics of an inverted pendulum.[63] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[64] While the Segway is not commonly thought of as a robot, it can be thought of as a component of a robot, when used as such Segway refer to them as RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform). An example of this use has been as NASA’s Robonaut that has been mounted on a Segway.[65]

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’s “Ballbot” that is the approximate height and width of a person, and Tohoku Gakuin University’s “BallIP”.[66] 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.[67]

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[68][69] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[70][71] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[72] or a ball bot.[73][74]

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

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”.[75]

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. There has been much study on human inspired walking, such as AMBER lab which was established in 2008 by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University.[76] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[77][78] Walking robots can be used for uneven terrains, which would provide better mobility and energy efficiency than other locomotion methods. Hybrids too have been proposed in movies such as I, Robot, where they walk on two legs and switch to four (arms+legs) when going to a sprint. Typically, robots on two legs can walk well on flat floors and can occasionally walk up stairs. None can walk over rocky, uneven terrain. Some of the methods which have been tried are:

The zero moment point (ZMP) is the algorithm used by robots such as Honda’s ASIMO. The robot’s onboard computer tries to keep the total inertial forces (the combination of Earth’s gravity and the acceleration and deceleration of walking), exactly opposed by the floor reaction force (the force of the floor pushing back on the robot’s foot). In this way, the two forces cancel out, leaving no moment (force causing the robot to rotate and fall over).[79] 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.[80][81][82] 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.

Several robots, built in the 1980s by Marc Raibert at the MIT 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. As the robot falls to one side, it would jump slightly in that direction, in order to catch itself.[83] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[84] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[85] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.[86]

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.[87] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots’ Dexter Robot,[88] which is so stable, it can even jump.[89] Another example is the TU Delft Flame.

Perhaps the most promising approach utilizes passive dynamics where the momentum of swinging limbs is used for greater efficiency. It has been shown that totally unpowered humanoid mechanisms can walk down a gentle slope, using only gravity 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. This technique promises to make walking robots at least ten times more efficient than ZMP walkers, like ASIMO.[90][91]

A modern passenger airliner is essentially a flying robot, with two humans to manage it. The autopilot can control the plane for each stage of the journey, including takeoff, normal flight, and even landing.[92] Other flying robots are uninhabited and are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They can be smaller and lighter without a human pilot on board, 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 missiles, 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.

Several snake 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.[93] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[94] can even navigate both on land and in water.[95]

A small number of skating 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.[96] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[97]

Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces. One approach mimics the movements of a human climber on a wall with protrusions; adjusting the center of mass and moving each limb in turn to gain leverage. An example of this is Capuchin,[98] built by Dr. Ruixiang Zhang at Stanford University, California. Another approach uses the specialized toe pad method of wall-climbing geckoes, which can run on smooth surfaces such as vertical glass. Examples of this approach include Wallbot[99] and Stickybot.[100] China’s Technology Daily reported on November 15, 2008, that Dr. Li Hiu Yeung and his research group of New Concept Aircraft (Zhuhai) Co., Ltd. had successfully developed a bionic gecko robot named “Speedy Freelander”. According to Dr. Li, the gecko robot could rapidly climb up and down a variety of building walls, navigate through ground and wall fissures, and walk upside-down on the ceiling. It was also able to adapt to the surfaces of smooth glass, rough, sticky or dusty walls as well as various types of metallic materials. It could also identify and circumvent obstacles automatically. Its flexibility and speed were comparable to a natural gecko. A third approach is to mimic the motion of a snake climbing a pole.[citation needed].

It is calculated that when swimming some fish can achieve a propulsive efficiency greater than 90%.[101] Furthermore, they can accelerate and maneuver far better than any man-made boat or submarine, and produce less noise and water disturbance. Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion.[102] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[103] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[104] The Aqua Penguin,[105] designed and built by Festo of Germany, copies the streamlined shape and propulsion by front “flippers” of penguins. Festo have also built the Aqua Ray and Aqua Jelly, which emulate the locomotion of manta ray, and jellyfish, respectively.

In 2014 iSplash-II was developed by PhD student Richard James Clapham and Prof. Huosheng Hu at Essex University. It was the first robotic fish capable of outperforming real carangiform fish in terms of average maximum velocity (measured in body lengths/ second) and endurance, the duration that top speed is maintained.[106] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e. 3.7m/s).[107] The first build, iSplash-I (2014) was the first robotic platform to apply a full-body length carangiform swimming motion which was found to increase swimming speed by 27% over the traditional approach of a posterior confined waveform.[108]

Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos[109] built by IFREMER and ENSTA-Bretagne. Since the propulsion of sailboat robots uses the wind, the energy of the batteries is only used for the computer, for the communication and for the actuators (to tune the rudder and the sail). If the robot is equipped with solar panels, the robot could theoretically navigate forever. The two main competitions of sailboat robots are WRSC, which takes place every year in Europe, and Sailbot.

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 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 such as ASIMO and Mein robot have particularly good robot navigation hardware and software. Also, self-controlled cars, Ernst Dickmanns’ driverless car, and the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge, are capable of sensing the environment well and subsequently making navigational decisions based on this information. Most of these robots employ a GPS navigation device with waypoints, along with radar, sometimes combined with other sensory data such as lidar, video cameras, and inertial guidance systems for better navigation between waypoints.

The state of the art in sensory intelligence for robots will have to progress through several orders of magnitude if we want the robots working in our homes to go beyond vacuum-cleaning the floors. 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, gestures, and facial expressions, rather than a command-line interface. 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, or Data of Star Trek, Next Generation.

Interpreting the continuous flow of sounds coming from a human, in real time, is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech.[110] The same word, spoken by the same person may sound different depending on local acoustics, volume, the previous word, whether or not the speaker has a cold, etc.. It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent.[111] 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.[112] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[113]

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,[114] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[115][116]

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 gestures 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.[117] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[118]

Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon 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 large number of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and embedded subsurface motors (servos).[119] The coating and servos are built on a metal skull. 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 and the more recent addition, Nexi[120] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[121]

Artificial emotions can also be generated, composed of a sequence of facial expressions and/or gestures. As can be seen from the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the programming of these artificial emotions is complex and requires a large 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.

Many of the robots of science fiction have a personality, something which may or may not be desirable in the commercial robots of the future.[122] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[123][124] 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, a toy robot dinosaur, which can exhibit several apparent emotions.[125]

The Socially Intelligent Machines Lab of the Georgia Institute of Technology researches new concepts of guided teaching interaction with robots. The aim of the projects is a social robot that learns task and goals from human demonstrations without prior knowledge of high-level concepts. These new concepts are grounded from low-level continuous sensor data through unsupervised learning, and task goals are subsequently learned using a Bayesian approach. These concepts can be used to transfer knowledge to future tasks, resulting in faster learning of those tasks. The results are demonstrated by the robot Curi who can scoop some pasta from a pot onto a plate and serve the sauce on top.[126]

The mechanical 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). Sensors 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 be stored or transmitted and to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators (motors) 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 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 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 techniques can be used to build maps of the world. Finally, motion planning and other artificial intelligence 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.

Control systems may also have varying levels of autonomy.

Another classification takes into account the interaction between human control and the machine motions.

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. Other investigations, such as MIT’s cyberflora project, are almost wholly academic.

A first particular new innovation in robot design is the open sourcing 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, Principal Research Scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute 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 and should become available by 2010. Because the first generation robot would be incapable of 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. The third generation robot should have the intelligence comparable to that of a monkey. Though fourth generation robots, robots with human intelligence, professor Moravec predicts, would become possible, he does not predict this happening before around 2040 or 2050.[128]

The second is evolutionary robots. This is a methodology that uses evolutionary computation to help design robots, especially the body form, or motion and behavior controllers. In a similar way to natural evolution, 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. 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,[129] and to explore the nature of evolution.[130] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[131] this technique may be run entirely or mostly in simulation, using a robot simulator software package, then tested on real robots once the evolved algorithms are good enough.[132] Currently, there are about 10 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is the top country having high density of utilizing robots in its manufacturing industry.[citation needed]

The study of motion can be divided into kinematics and dynamics.[133] Direct kinematics refers to the calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity, and acceleration when the corresponding joint values are known. Inverse kinematics 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 avoidance, and singularity avoidance. Once all relevant positions, velocities, and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics, methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of forces 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 simulations of the robot. Inverse dynamics 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.

Bionics and biomimetics apply the physiology and methods of locomotion of animals to the design of robots. For example, the design of BionicKangaroo was based on the way kangaroos jump.

There has been some research into whether robotics algorithms can be run more quickly on quantum computers than they can be run on digital computers. This area has been referred to as quantum robotics.[134]

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[135] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[136] as well as in numerous youth summer camps, raising interest in programming, artificial intelligence, and robotics among students. First-year computer science courses at some universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework.[54]

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[137] Vocational schools offer robotics training aimed at careers in robotics.

The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance (RCSA) is an international robotics certification authority that confers various industry- and educational-related robotics certifications.

Several national summer camp programs include robotics as part of their core curriculum. In addition, youth summer robotics programs are frequently offered by celebrated museums and institutions.

There are lots of competitions all around the globe. One of the most important competitions is the FLL or FIRST Lego League. The idea of this specific competition is that kids start developing knowledge and getting into robotics while playing with Legos since they are 9 years old. This competition is associated with Ni or National Instruments.

Many schools across the country are beginning to add robotics programs to their after school curriculum. Some major programs for afterschool robotics include FIRST Robotics Competition, Botball and B.E.S.T. Robotics.[138] Robotics competitions often include aspects of business and marketing as well as engineering and design.

The Lego company began a program for children to learn and get excited about robotics at a young age.[139]

Robotics is an essential component in many modern manufacturing environments. As factories increase their use of robots, the number of roboticsrelated jobs grow and have been observed to be steadily rising.[140] The employment of robots in industries has increased productivity and efficiency savings and is typically seen as a long term investment for benefactors. A paper by Michael Osborne andCarl Benedikt Freyfound that 47 per cent of US jobs are at risk to automation “over some unspecified number of years”.[141] These claims have been criticized on the ground that social policy, not AI, causes unemployment.[142]

A discussion paper drawn up by EU-OSHA highlights how the spread of robotics presents both opportunities and challenges for occupational safety and health (OSH).[143]

The greatest OSH benefits stemming from the wider use of robotics should be substitution for people working in unhealthy or dangerous environments. In space, defence, security, or the nuclear industry, but also in logistics, maintenance, and inspection, autonomous robots are particularly useful in replacing human workers performing dirty, dull or unsafe tasks, thus avoiding workers’ exposures to hazardous agents and conditions and reducing physical, ergonomic and psychosocial risks. For example, robots are already used to perform repetitive and monotonous tasks, to handle radioactive material or to work in explosive atmospheres. In the future, many other highly repetitive, risky or unpleasant tasks will be performed by robots in a variety of sectors like agriculture, construction, transport, healthcare, firefighting or cleaning services.[144]

Despite these advances, there are certain skills to which humans will be better suited than machines for some time to come and the question is how to achieve the best combination of human and robot skills. The advantages of robotics include heavy-duty jobs with precision and repeatability, whereas the advantages of humans include creativity, decision-making, flexibility and adaptability. This need to combine optimal skills has resulted in collaborative robots and humans sharing a common workspace more closely and led to the development of new approaches and standards to guarantee the safety of the “man-robot merger”. Some European countries are including robotics in their national programmes and trying to promote a safe and flexible co-operation between robots and operators to achieve better productivity. For example, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) organises annual workshops on the topic “human-robot collaboration”.

In future, co-operation between robots and humans will be diversified, with robots increasing their autonomy and human-robot collaboration reaching completely new forms. Current approaches and technical standards[145][146] aiming to protect employees from the risk of working with collaborative robots will have to be revised.

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Robotics – Wikipedia

Veo Robotics

We need a team of great people to help us transform manufacturing.

At Veo we are committed to: excellence in our work; respect for each other; and integrity, honesty, and transparency.

We believe that great work gets done in a positive, supportive environment with teams made up of all kinds of people, including but not limited to those of all races, colors, religions, genders, gender identities or expressions, sexual orientations, national origins, disabilities, veteran status, and ages; or as the Vulcans say, IDIC. Veo Robotics is committed to working with and providing reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities in accordance with the American with Disabilities Act and state disability laws.

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What is robotics? – Definition from WhatIs.com

Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering.

Science-fiction author Isaac Asimov is often given credit for being the first person to use the term robotics in a short story composed in the 1940s. In the story, Asimov suggested three principles to guide the behavior of robots and smart machines. Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, as they are called, have survived to the present:

1. Robots must never harm human beings.2. Robots must follow instructions from humans without violating rule 1.3. Robots must protect themselves without violating the other rules.

See Rodney Brooks’ Ted talk, “Why we will depend on robots”

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What is robotics? – Definition from WhatIs.com

Robotics | Definition of Robotics by Merriam-Webster

: technology dealing with the design, construction, and operation of robots in automation

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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘robotics.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

1941, in the meaning defined above

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3 Oct 2018

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: technology that is used to design, build, and operate robots

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Robotics | Definition of Robotics by Merriam-Webster

RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robotics

NEW High Speed Low Payload Robots

Kawasaki’s new 7 kg payload robots offer industry-leading speeds and increased reach for optimized performance in a wide range of applications.

Stubli Robotic Tool Changer MPS 13

Stublis robotic tool changing systems draw on decades of experience in robot and coupling manufacturing. Stubli has developed versatile tool changer solutions for robots from any manufacturer.

Advanced robotics for the DC

The latest technology. Unmatched distribution center expertise. Machine learning to keep improving.

Multi-Axis Force/Torque Sensors

ATI’s Six-Axis Force/Torque Sensors give robots a tactile sense of touch by sending force and torque feedback to control the robot’s positioning.

NEW High Speed, Low Payload Robots

Industry-leading speeds combined with an expanded working range make Kawasaki’s new 7 kg payload robots the ideal choice for a wide range of applications.

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RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robotics

Science Robotics

A skin-inspired tactile sensor for smart prosthetics

By Yuanzhao Wu, Yiwei Liu, Youlin Zhou, Qikui Man, Chao Hu, Waqas Asghar, Fali Li, Zhe Yu, Jie Shang, Gang Liu, Meiyong Liao, Run-Wei Li

Science Robotics19 Sep 2018 Full AccessRestricted Access

A skin-inspired tactile sensor achieved transduction of digital-frequency signals by an inductance-capacitance oscillation mechanism.

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Science Robotics


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