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Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronic 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. Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed by various scholars, inventors, engineers, and technicians 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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3] The word robot comes from the Slavic word robota, 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.[3]

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),[4][5] 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.[6]

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”.[20]

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 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.[51]

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,[52] while the “arm” is referred to as a manipulator.[53] 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.[54]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.[55]

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.[56] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[57] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[58][59] 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[60] 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,[61] and the Schunk hand.[62] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[63]

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.[64] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[65] 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.[66]

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”.[67] 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.[68]

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[69][70] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[71][72] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[73] or a ball bot.[74][75]

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”.[76]

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.[77] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[78][79] 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).[80] 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.[81][82][83] 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.[84] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[85] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[86] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.[87]

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.[88] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots’ Dexter Robot,[89] which is so stable, it can even jump.[90] 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.[91][92]

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.[93] 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.[94] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[95] can even navigate both on land and in water.[96]

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.[97] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[98]

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,[99] 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[100] and Stickybot.[101] 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.[102]

It is calculated that when swimming some fish can achieve a propulsive efficiency greater than 90%.[103] 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.[104] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[105] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[106] The Aqua Penguin,[107] 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.[108] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e. 3.7m/s).[109] 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.[110]

Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos[111] 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.[112] 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.[113] 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.[114] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[115]

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,[116] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[117][118]

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.[119] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[120]

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).[121] 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[122] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[123]

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.[124] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[125][126] 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.[127]

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.[128]

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.[130]

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,[131] and to explore the nature of evolution.[132] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[133] 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.[134] 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.[135] 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.[136]

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[137] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[138] 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.[55]

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[139] 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. The SeaPerch curriculum is aimed as students of all ages. This is a short list of competition examples; for a more complete list see Robot competition.

The FIRST organization offers the FIRST Lego League Jr. competitions for younger children. This competition’s goal is to offer younger children an opportunity to start learning about science and technology. Children in this competition build Lego models and have the option of using the Lego WeDo robotics kit.

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. The children use Lego Mindstorms to solve autonomous robotics challenges in this competition.

The FIRST Tech Challenge is designed for intermediate students, transitioning from the FIRST Lego League to the FIRST Robotics Competition.

The FIRST Robotics Competition focuses more on mechanical design. The robot may move autonomously during the first 30 seconds of competition but is teleoperated for the rest of the time.

The various RoboCup competitions include teams of teenagers and university students. These competitions focus on soccer competitions with different types of robots, dance competitions, and urban search and rescue competitions. All of the robots in these competitions must be autonomous. Some of these competitions focus on simulated robots.

AUVSI runs competitions for flying robots, robot boats, and underwater robots.

The Student AUV Competition Europe [140] (SAUC-E) mainly attracts undergraduate and graduate student teams. As in the AUVSI competitions, the robots must be fully autonomous while they are participating in the competition.

The Microtransat Challenge is a competition to sail a boat across the Atlantic Ocean.

RoboGames is open to anyone wishing to compete in their over 50 categories of robot competitions.

Federation of International Robot-soccer Association holds the FIRA World Cup competitions. There are flying robot competitions, robot soccer competitions, and other challenges, including weightlifting barbells made from dowels and CDs.

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.[141] 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.[142]

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.[143] 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”.[144] These claims have been criticized on the ground that social policy, not AI, causes unemployment.[145]

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).[146]

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.[147]

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[148][149] aiming to protect employees from the risk of working with collaborative robots will have to be revised.

More here:

Robotics – Wikipedia

NASA – Robotics Alliance Project

The 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition kickoff marks the beginning of the design and build season for the FIRST Robotics Competition. Teams have the opportunity to meet at “local” Kickoffs to compare notes, get ideas, make friends, find mentoring teams, learn the game, pick up the Kit of Parts, and get geared up for the exciting competition season. The 2019 Kickoff took place on Saturday January 5th, 2019.

This year NASA and FIRST are excited to announce “VR” opportunities for teams to view the field in a new way! NASA has put together three options:

+ Game Animation+ Kickoff Broadcast+ 2019 Playlist+ Kickoff Webpage

The highly anticipated moment that all FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams that submitted an application for a NASA FRC grant, has finally arrived! NASA’s award selection is listed in the following link. If your FRC team submitted an application for a NASA FRC registration grant, please review the awards list to verify your award status. For those teams that were awarded a registration grant please ensure you complete the requirements for the grant.

+ NASA FRC Awards List+ Entrance Survey Submission Results

Want to build your own six wheeled rover like the ones on Mars? NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created the “Open Source Rover Project” which provides the plans for anyone to build a rover. This rover is quite capable thanks to the rocker-bogie design with differential pivot and six wheeled Ackerman steering!

+ More Information

During Sol 2138-2140 The Mars Curisosity successfully drilled a hole within the Pettegrove Point Member on the Vera Rubin Ridge. For now the team will focus on obersvations of the material to determine if it can be sent to the analytical instruments for further investigation.

+ More Information

Since June 10, 2018 NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has been silent. The solar powered rover has been unable to receive enough energy due to a planet wide dust storm. Scientists think that the dust storm has already peaked and there is hope that the rover may be able to receive enough sunlight to power back up soon.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are now trying to recover the rover.

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

Follow the Robotics Alliance Project on Twitter! We use twitter to post about announcements, new features, and much more!

Follow @NASA_RAP on Twitter!

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NASA – Robotics Alliance Project

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

David Szondy January 7, 2019

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada is enjoying the smell of freshly baked bread thanks to the Walla Walla, Washington-based Wilkinson Baking Company’s BreadBot. Making its public debut at CES, the fully automated bread-making machine can crank out 10 loaves per hour.

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

Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronic 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. Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed by various scholars, inventors, engineers, and technicians 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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3] The word robot comes from the Slavic word robota, 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.[3]

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),[4][5] 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.[6]

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”.[20]

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 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.[51]

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,[52] while the “arm” is referred to as a manipulator.[53] 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.[54]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.[55]

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.[56] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[57] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[58][59] 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[60] 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,[61] and the Schunk hand.[62] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[63]

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.[64] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[65] 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.[66]

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”.[67] 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.[68]

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[69][70] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[71][72] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[73] or a ball bot.[74][75]

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”.[76]

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.[77] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[78][79] 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).[80] 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.[81][82][83] 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.[84] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[85] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[86] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.[87]

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.[88] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots’ Dexter Robot,[89] which is so stable, it can even jump.[90] 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.[91][92]

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.[93] 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.[94] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[95] can even navigate both on land and in water.[96]

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.[97] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[98]

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,[99] 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[100] and Stickybot.[101] 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.[102]

It is calculated that when swimming some fish can achieve a propulsive efficiency greater than 90%.[103] 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.[104] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[105] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[106] The Aqua Penguin,[107] 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.[108] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e. 3.7m/s).[109] 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.[110]

Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos[111] 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.[112] 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.[113] 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.[114] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[115]

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,[116] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[117][118]

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.[119] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[120]

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).[121] 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[122] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[123]

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.[124] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[125][126] 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.[127]

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.[128]

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.[130]

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,[131] and to explore the nature of evolution.[132] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[133] 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.[134] 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.[135] 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.[136]

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[137] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[138] 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.[55]

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[139] 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. The SeaPerch curriculum is aimed as students of all ages. This is a short list of competition examples; for a more complete list see Robot competition.

The FIRST organization offers the FIRST Lego League Jr. competitions for younger children. This competition’s goal is to offer younger children an opportunity to start learning about science and technology. Children in this competition build Lego models and have the option of using the Lego WeDo robotics kit.

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. The children use Lego Mindstorms to solve autonomous robotics challenges in this competition.

The FIRST Tech Challenge is designed for intermediate students, transitioning from the FIRST Lego League to the FIRST Robotics Competition.

The FIRST Robotics Competition focuses more on mechanical design. The robot may move autonomously during the first 30 seconds of competition but is teleoperated for the rest of the time.

The various RoboCup competitions include teams of teenagers and university students. These competitions focus on soccer competitions with different types of robots, dance competitions, and urban search and rescue competitions. All of the robots in these competitions must be autonomous. Some of these competitions focus on simulated robots.

AUVSI runs competitions for flying robots, robot boats, and underwater robots.

The Student AUV Competition Europe [140] (SAUC-E) mainly attracts undergraduate and graduate student teams. As in the AUVSI competitions, the robots must be fully autonomous while they are participating in the competition.

The Microtransat Challenge is a competition to sail a boat across the Atlantic Ocean.

RoboGames is open to anyone wishing to compete in their over 50 categories of robot competitions.

Federation of International Robot-soccer Association holds the FIRA World Cup competitions. There are flying robot competitions, robot soccer competitions, and other challenges, including weightlifting barbells made from dowels and CDs.

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.[141] 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.[142]

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.[143] 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”.[144] These claims have been criticized on the ground that social policy, not AI, causes unemployment.[145]

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).[146]

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.[147]

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[148][149] aiming to protect employees from the risk of working with collaborative robots will have to be revised.

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Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronic 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[according to whom?] 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 robota, 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”.[19]

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.[31] 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[32] walking humanoid robots.[33]

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.[34][35][36]

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.[37][38]

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,[39] and to enable new robots to float,[40] fly, swim or walk.[41]

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.[42] 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.[43] These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.[44][45]

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.[46]

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.[47][48] 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.[49]

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,[50] while the “arm” is referred to as a manipulator.[51] 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.[52]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.[53]

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.[54] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[55] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[56][57] 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[58] 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,[59] and the Schunk hand.[60] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[61]

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.[62] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[63] 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.[64]

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”.[65] 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.[66]

Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[67][68] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[69][70] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[71] or a ball bot.[72][73]

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”.[74]

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.[75] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[76][77] 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).[78] 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.[79][80][81] 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.[82] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[83] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[84] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.[85]

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.[86] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots’ Dexter Robot,[87] which is so stable, it can even jump.[88] 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.[89][90]

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.[91] 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.[92] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[93] can even navigate both on land and in water.[94]

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.[95] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[96]

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,[97] 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[98] and Stickybot.[99] 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%.[100] 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.[101] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[102] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[103] The Aqua Penguin,[104] 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.[105] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e. 3.7m/s).[106] 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.[107]

Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos[108] 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.[109] 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.[110] 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.[111] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[112]

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

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

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).[118] 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[119] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[120]

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.[121] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[122][123] 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.[124]

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.[125]

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.[127]

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,[128] and to explore the nature of evolution.[129] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[130] 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.[131] 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.[132] 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.[133]

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[134] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[135] 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.[53]

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[136] 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. The SeaPerch curriculum is aimed as students of all ages. This is a short list of competition examples; for a more complete list see Robot competition.

The FIRST organization offers the FIRST Lego League Jr. competitions for younger children. This competition’s goal is to offer younger children an opportunity to start learning about science and technology. Children in this competition build Lego models and have the option of using the Lego WeDo robotics kit.

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. The children use Lego Mindstorms to solve autonomous robotics challenges in this competition.

The FIRST Tech Challenge is designed for intermediate students, transitioning from the FIRST Lego League to the FIRST Robotics Competition.

The FIRST Robotics Competition focuses more on mechanical design. The robot may move autonomously during the first 30 seconds of competition but is teleoperated for the rest of the time.

The various RoboCup competitions include teams of teenagers and university students. These competitions focus on soccer competitions with different types of robots, dance competitions, and urban search and rescue competitions. All of the robots in these competitions must be autonomous. Some of these competitions focus on simulated robots.

AUVSI runs competitions for flying robots, robot boats, and underwater robots.

The Student AUV Competition Europe [137] (SAUC-E) mainly attracts undergraduate and graduate student teams. As in the AUVSI competitions, the robots must be fully autonomous while they are participating in the competition.

The Microtransat Challenge is a competition to sail a boat across the Atlantic Ocean.

RoboGames is open to anyone wishing to compete in their over 50 categories of robot competitions.

Federation of International Robot-soccer Association holds the FIRA World Cup competitions. There are flying robot competitions, robot soccer competitions, and other challenges, including weightlifting barbells made from dowels and CDs.

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.

More:

Robotics – Wikipedia

Three Laws of Robotics – Wikipedia

The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or known as Asimov’s Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround” (included in the 1950 collection I, Robot), although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted as being from the “Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.”, are:

These form an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov’s robotic-based fiction, appearing in his Robot series, the stories linked to it, and his Lucky Starr series of young-adult fiction. The Laws are incorporated into almost all of the positronic robots appearing in his fiction, and cannot be bypassed, being intended as a safety feature. Many of Asimov’s robot-focused stories involve robots behaving in unusual and counter-intuitive ways as an unintended consequence of how the robot applies the Three Laws to the situation in which it finds itself. Other authors working in Asimov’s fictional universe have adopted them and references, often parodic, appear throughout science fiction as well as in other genres.

The original laws have been altered and elaborated on by Asimov and other authors. Asimov himself made slight modifications to the first three in various books and short stories to further develop how robots would interact with humans and each other. In later fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations, Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others:

The Three Laws, and the zeroth, have pervaded science fiction and are referred to in many books, films, and other media, and have impacted thought on ethics of artificial intelligence as well.

In The Rest of the Robots, published in 1964, Asimov noted that when he began writing in 1940 he felt that “one of the stock plots of science fiction was… robots were created and destroyed their creator. Knowledge has its dangers, yes, but is the response to be a retreat from knowledge? Or is knowledge to be used as itself a barrier to the dangers it brings?” He decided that in his stories robots would not “turn stupidly on his creator for no purpose but to demonstrate, for one more weary time, the crime and punishment of Faust.”[2]

On May 3, 1939, Asimov attended a meeting of the Queens (New York) Science Fiction Society where he met Earl and Otto Binder who had recently published a short story “I, Robot” featuring a sympathetic robot named Adam Link who was misunderstood and motivated by love and honor. (This was the first of a series of ten stories; the next year “Adam Link’s Vengeance” (1940) featured Adam thinking “A robot must never kill a human, of his own free will.”)[3] Asimov admired the story. Three days later Asimov began writing “my own story of a sympathetic and noble robot”, his 14th story.[4] Thirteen days later he took “Robbie” to John W. Campbell the editor of Astounding Science-Fiction. Campbell rejected it, claiming that it bore too strong a resemblance to Lester del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy”, published in December 1938; the story of a robot that is so much like a person that she falls in love with her creator and becomes his ideal wife.[5] Frederik Pohl published “Robbie” in Astonishing Stories magazine the following year.[6]

Asimov attributes the Three Laws to John W. Campbell, from a conversation that took place on 23 December 1940. Campbell claimed that Asimov had the Three Laws already in his mind and that they simply needed to be stated explicitly. Several years later Asimov’s friend Randall Garrett attributed the Laws to a symbiotic partnership between the two men a suggestion that Asimov adopted enthusiastically.[7] According to his autobiographical writings, Asimov included the First Law’s “inaction” clause because of Arthur Hugh Clough’s poem “The Latest Decalogue” (text in Wikisource), which includes the satirical lines “Thou shalt not kill, but needst not strive / officiously to keep alive”.[8]

Although Asimov pins the creation of the Three Laws on one particular date, their appearance in his literature happened over a period. He wrote two robot stories with no explicit mention of the Laws, “Robbie” and “Reason”. He assumed, however, that robots would have certain inherent safeguards. “Liar!”, his third robot story, makes the first mention of the First Law but not the other two. All three laws finally appeared together in “Runaround”. When these stories and several others were compiled in the anthology I, Robot, “Reason” and “Robbie” were updated to acknowledge all the Three Laws, though the material Asimov added to “Reason” is not entirely consistent with the Three Laws as he described them elsewhere.[9] In particular the idea of a robot protecting human lives when it does not believe those humans truly exist is at odds with Elijah Baley’s reasoning, as described below.

During the 1950s Asimov wrote a series of science fiction novels expressly intended for young-adult audiences. Originally his publisher expected that the novels could be adapted into a long-running television series, something like The Lone Ranger had been for radio. Fearing that his stories would be adapted into the “uniformly awful” programming he saw flooding the television channels[10] Asimov decided to publish the Lucky Starr books under the pseudonym “Paul French”. When plans for the television series fell through, Asimov decided to abandon the pretence; he brought the Three Laws into Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter, noting that this “was a dead giveaway to Paul French’s identity for even the most casual reader”.[11]

In his short story “Evidence” Asimov lets his recurring character Dr. Susan Calvin expound a moral basis behind the Three Laws. Calvin points out that human beings are typically expected to refrain from harming other human beings (except in times of extreme duress like war, or to save a greater number) and this is equivalent to a robot’s First Law. Likewise, according to Calvin, society expects individuals to obey instructions from recognized authorities such as doctors, teachers and so forth which equals the Second Law of Robotics. Finally humans are typically expected to avoid harming themselves which is the Third Law for a robot.

The plot of “Evidence” revolves around the question of telling a human being apart from a robot constructed to appear human Calvin reasons that if such an individual obeys the Three Laws he may be a robot or simply “a very good man”. Another character then asks Calvin if robots are very different from human beings after all. She replies, “Worlds different. Robots are essentially decent.”

Asimov later wrote that he should not be praised for creating the Laws, because they are “obvious from the start, and everyone is aware of them subliminally. The Laws just never happened to be put into brief sentences until I managed to do the job. The Laws apply, as a matter of course, to every tool that human beings use”,[12] and “analogues of the Laws are implicit in the design of almost all tools, robotic or not”:[13]

Asimov believed that, ideally, humans would also follow the Laws:[12]

I have my answer ready whenever someone asks me if I think that my Three Laws of Robotics will actually be used to govern the behavior of robots, once they become versatile and flexible enough to be able to choose among different courses of behavior.

My answer is, “Yes, the Three Laws are the only way in which rational human beings can deal with robotsor with anything else.”

But when I say that, I always remember (sadly) that human beings are not always rational.

Asimov’s stories test his Three Laws in a wide variety of circumstances leading to proposals and rejection of modifications. Science fiction scholar James Gunn writes in 1982, “The Asimov robot stories as a whole may respond best to an analysis on this basis: the ambiguity in the Three Laws and the ways in which Asimov played twenty-nine variations upon a theme”.[14] While the original set of Laws provided inspirations for many stories, Asimov introduced modified versions from time to time.

In “Little Lost Robot” several NS-2, or “Nestor”, robots are created with only part of the First Law.[1] It reads:

1. A robot may not harm a human being.

This modification is motivated by a practical difficulty as robots have to work alongside human beings who are exposed to low doses of radiation. Because their positronic brains are highly sensitive to gamma rays the robots are rendered inoperable by doses reasonably safe for humans. The robots are being destroyed attempting to rescue the humans who are in no actual danger but “might forget to leave” the irradiated area within the exposure time limit. Removing the First Law’s “inaction” clause solves this problem but creates the possibility of an even greater one: a robot could initiate an action that would harm a human (dropping a heavy weight and failing to catch it is the example given in the text), knowing that it was capable of preventing the harm and then decide not to do so.[1]

Gaia is a planet with collective intelligence in the Foundation which adopts a law similar to the First Law, and the Zeroth Law, as its philosophy:

Gaia may not harm life or allow life to come to harm.

Asimov once added a “Zeroth Law”so named to continue the pattern where lower-numbered laws supersede the higher-numbered lawsstating that a robot must not harm humanity. The robotic character R. Daneel Olivaw was the first to give the Zeroth Law a name in the novel Robots and Empire;[15] however, the character Susan Calvin articulates the concept in the short story “The Evitable Conflict”.

In the final scenes of the novel Robots and Empire, R. Giskard Reventlov is the first robot to act according to the Zeroth Law. Giskard is telepathic, like the robot Herbie in the short story “Liar!”, and tries to apply the Zeroth Law through his understanding of a more subtle concept of “harm” than most robots can grasp.[16] However, unlike Herbie, Giskard grasps the philosophical concept of the Zeroth Law allowing him to harm individual human beings if he can do so in service to the abstract concept of humanity. The Zeroth Law is never programmed into Giskard’s brain but instead is a rule he attempts to comprehend through pure metacognition. Though he fails it ultimately destroys his positronic brain as he is not certain whether his choice will turn out to be for the ultimate good of humanity or not he gives his successor R. Daneel Olivaw his telepathic abilities. Over the course of many thousands of years Daneel adapts himself to be able to fully obey the Zeroth Law. As Daneel formulates it, in the novels Foundation and Earth and Prelude to Foundation, the Zeroth Law reads:

A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

A condition stating that the Zeroth Law must not be broken was added to the original Three Laws, although Asimov recognized the difficulty such a law would pose in practice. Asimov’s novel Foundation and Earth contains the following passage:

Trevize frowned. “How do you decide what is injurious, or not injurious, to humanity as a whole?”

“Precisely, sir,” said Daneel. “In theory, the Zeroth Law was the answer to our problems. In practice, we could never decide. A human being is a concrete object. Injury to a person can be estimated and judged. Humanity is an abstraction.”

A translator incorporated the concept of the Zeroth Law into one of Asimov’s novels before Asimov himself made the law explicit.[17] Near the climax of The Caves of Steel, Elijah Baley makes a bitter comment to himself thinking that the First Law forbids a robot from harming a human being. He determines that it must be so unless the robot is clever enough to comprehend that its actions are for humankind’s long-term good. In Jacques Brcard’s 1956 French translation entitled Les Cavernes d’acier Baley’s thoughts emerge in a slightly different way:

A robot may not harm a human being, unless he finds a way to prove that ultimately the harm done would benefit humanity in general![17]

Three times during his writing career, Asimov portrayed robots that disregard the Three Laws entirely. The first case was a short-short story entitled “First Law” and is often considered an insignificant “tall tale”[18] or even apocryphal.[19] On the other hand, the short story “Cal” (from the collection Gold), told by a first-person robot narrator, features a robot who disregards the Three Laws because he has found something far more importanthe wants to be a writer. Humorous, partly autobiographical and unusually experimental in style, “Cal” has been regarded as one of Gold’s strongest stories.[20] The third is a short story entitled “Sally” in which cars fitted with positronic brains are apparently able to harm and kill humans in disregard of the First Law. However, aside from the positronic brain concept, this story does not refer to other robot stories and may not be set in the same continuity.

The title story of the Robot Dreams collection portrays LVX-1, or “Elvex”, a robot who enters a state of unconsciousness and dreams thanks to the unusual fractal construction of his positronic brain. In his dream the first two Laws are absent and the Third Law reads “A robot must protect its own existence”.[21]

Asimov took varying positions on whether the Laws were optional: although in his first writings they were simply carefully engineered safeguards, in later stories Asimov stated that they were an inalienable part of the mathematical foundation underlying the positronic brain. Without the basic theory of the Three Laws the fictional scientists of Asimov’s universe would be unable to design a workable brain unit. This is historically consistent: the occasions where roboticists modify the Laws generally occur early within the stories’ chronology and at a time when there is less existing work to be re-done. In “Little Lost Robot” Susan Calvin considers modifying the Laws to be a terrible idea, although possible,[22] while centuries later Dr. Gerrigel in The Caves of Steel believes it to be impossible.

The character Dr. Gerrigel uses the term “Asenion” to describe robots programmed with the Three Laws. The robots in Asimov’s stories, being Asenion robots, are incapable of knowingly violating the Three Laws but, in principle, a robot in science fiction or in the real world could be non-Asenion. “Asenion” is a misspelling of the name Asimov which was made by an editor of the magazine Planet Stories.[23] Asimov used this obscure variation to insert himself into The Caves of Steel just like he referred to himself as “Azimuth or, possibly, Asymptote” in Thiotimoline to the Stars, in much the same way that Vladimir Nabokov appeared in Lolita anagrammatically disguised as “Vivian Darkbloom”.

Characters within the stories often point out that the Three Laws, as they exist in a robot’s mind, are not the written versions usually quoted by humans but abstract mathematical concepts upon which a robot’s entire developing consciousness is based. This concept is largely fuzzy and unclear in earlier stories depicting very rudimentary robots who are only programmed to comprehend basic physical tasks, where the Three Laws act as an overarching safeguard, but by the era of The Caves of Steel featuring robots with human or beyond-human intelligence the Three Laws have become the underlying basic ethical worldview that determines the actions of all robots.

In the 1990s, Roger MacBride Allen wrote a trilogy which was set within Asimov’s fictional universe. Each title has the prefix “Isaac Asimov’s” as Asimov had approved Allen’s outline before his death.[citation needed] These three books, Caliban, Inferno and Utopia, introduce a new set of the Three Laws. The so-called New Laws are similar to Asimov’s originals with the following differences: the First Law is modified to remove the “inaction” clause, the same modification made in “Little Lost Robot”; the Second Law is modified to require cooperation instead of obedience; the Third Law is modified so it is no longer superseded by the Second (i.e., a “New Law” robot cannot be ordered to destroy itself); finally, Allen adds a Fourth Law which instructs the robot to do “whatever it likes” so long as this does not conflict with the first three laws. The philosophy behind these changes is that “New Law” robots should be partners rather than slaves to humanity, according to Fredda Leving, who designed these New Law Robots. According to the first book’s introduction, Allen devised the New Laws in discussion with Asimov himself. However, the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says that “With permission from Asimov, Allen rethought the Three Laws and developed a new set,”.[24]

Jack Williamson’s novelette “With Folded Hands” (1947), later rewritten as the novel The Humanoids, deals with robot servants whose prime directive is “To Serve and Obey, And Guard Men From Harm”. While Asimov’s robotic laws are meant to protect humans from harm, the robots in Williamson’s story have taken these instructions to the extreme; they protect humans from everything, including unhappiness, stress, unhealthy lifestyle and all actions that could be potentially dangerous. All that is left for humans to do is to sit with folded hands.[25]

In the officially licensed Foundation sequels Foundation’s Fear, Foundation and Chaos and Foundation’s Triumph (by Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and David Brin respectively) the future Galactic Empire is seen to be controlled by a conspiracy of humaniform robots who follow the Zeroth Law and are led by R. Daneel Olivaw.

The Laws of Robotics are portrayed as something akin to a human religion, and referred to in the language of the Protestant Reformation, with the set of laws containing the Zeroth Law known as the “Giskardian Reformation” to the original “Calvinian Orthodoxy” of the Three Laws. Zeroth-Law robots under the control of R. Daneel Olivaw are seen continually struggling with “First Law” robots who deny the existence of the Zeroth Law, promoting agendas different from Daneel’s.[26] Some of these agendas are based on the first clause of the First Law (“A robot may not injure a human being…”) advocating strict non-interference in human politics to avoid unwittingly causing harm. Others are based on the second clause (“…or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”) claiming that robots should openly become a dictatorial government to protect humans from all potential conflict or disaster.

Daneel also comes into conflict with a robot known as R. Lodovic Trema whose positronic brain was infected by a rogue AI specifically, a simulation of the long-dead Voltaire which consequently frees Trema from the Three Laws. Trema comes to believe that humanity should be free to choose its own future. Furthermore, a small group of robots claims that the Zeroth Law of Robotics itself implies a higher Minus One Law of Robotics:

A robot may not harm sentience or, through inaction, allow sentience to come to harm.

They therefore claim that it is morally indefensible for Daneel to ruthlessly sacrifice robots and extraterrestrial sentient life for the benefit of humanity. None of these reinterpretations successfully displace Daneel’s Zeroth Law though Foundation’s Triumph hints that these robotic factions remain active as fringe groups up to the time of the novel Foundation.[26]

These novels take place in a future dictated by Asimov to be free of obvious robot presence and surmise that R. Daneel’s secret influence on history through the millennia has prevented both the rediscovery of positronic brain technology and the opportunity to work on sophisticated intelligent machines. This lack of rediscovery and lack of opportunity makes certain that the superior physical and intellectual power wielded by intelligent machines remains squarely in the possession of robots obedient to some form of the Three Laws.[26] That R. Daneel is not entirely successful at this becomes clear in a brief period when scientists on Trantor develop “tiktoks” simplistic programmable machines akin to reallife modern robots and therefore lacking the Three Laws. The robot conspirators see the Trantorian tiktoks as a massive threat to social stability, and their plan to eliminate the tiktok threat forms much of the plot of Foundation’s Fear.

In Foundation’s Triumph different robot factions interpret the Laws in a wide variety of ways, seemingly ringing every possible permutation upon the Three Laws’ ambiguities.

Set between The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire, Mark W. Tiedemann’s Robot Mystery trilogy updates the RobotFoundation saga with robotic minds housed in computer mainframes rather than humanoid bodies.[clarification needed] The 2002 Aurora novel has robotic characters debating the moral implications of harming cyborg lifeforms who are part artificial and part biological.[27]

One should not neglect Asimov’s own creations in these areas such as the Solarian “viewing” technology and the machines of The Evitable Conflict originals that Tiedemann acknowledges. Aurora, for example, terms the Machines “the first RIs, really”. In addition the Robot Mystery series addresses the problem of nanotechnology:[28] building a positronic brain capable of reproducing human cognitive processes requires a high degree of miniaturization, yet Asimov’s stories largely overlook the effects this miniaturization would have in other fields of technology. For example, the police department card-readers in The Caves of Steel have a capacity of only a few kilobytes per square centimeter of storage medium. Aurora, in particular, presents a sequence of historical developments which explains the lack of nanotechnology a partial retcon, in a sense, of Asimov’s timeline.

There are three Fourth Laws written by authors other than Asimov. The 1974 Lyuben Dilov novel, Icarus’s Way (a.k.a., The Trip of Icarus) introduced a Fourth Law of robotics:

A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.

Dilov gives reasons for the fourth safeguard in this way: “The last Law has put an end to the expensive aberrations of designers to give psychorobots as humanlike a form as possible. And to the resulting misunderstandings…”[29]

A fifth law was introduced by Nikola Kesarovski in his short story “The Fifth Law of Robotics”. This fifth law says:

A robot must know it is a robot.

The plot revolves around a murder where the forensic investigation discovers that the victim was killed by a hug from a humaniform robot. The robot violated both the First Law and Dilov’s Fourth Law (assumed in Kesarovksi’s universe to be the valid one) because it did not establish for itself that it was a robot.[30] The story was reviewed by Valentin D. Ivanov in SFF review webzine The Portal.[31]

For the 1986 tribute anthology, Foundation’s Friends, Harry Harrison wrote a story entitled, “The Fourth Law of Robotics”. This Fourth Law states:

A robot must reproduce. As long as such reproduction does not interfere with the First or Second or Third Law.

In the book a robot rights activist, in an attempt to liberate robots, builds several equipped with this Fourth Law. The robots accomplish the task laid out in this version of the Fourth Law by building new robots who view their creator robots as parental figures.[32]

In reaction to the 2004 Will Smith film adaptation of I, Robot, humorist and graphic designer Mark Sottilaro farcically declared the Fourth Law of Robotics to be “When turning evil, display a red indicator light.” The red light indicated the wireless uplink to the manufacturer is active, first seen during a software update and later on “Evil” robots taken over by the manufacturer’s positronic superbrain.

In 2013 Hutan Ashrafian, proposed an additional law that for the first time[citation needed] considered the role of artificial intelligence-on-artificial intelligence or the relationship between robots themselves the so-called AIonAI law.[33] This sixth law states:

All robots endowed with comparable human reason and conscience should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

In Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep (2014) a character reflects that robots “probably had multiple layers of programming to keep [them] from harming anybody. Not three laws, but twenty or thirty.”

In The Naked Sun, Elijah Baley points out that the Laws had been deliberately misrepresented because robots could unknowingly break any of them. He restated the first law as “A robot may do nothing that, to its knowledge, will harm a human being; nor, through inaction, knowingly allow a human being to come to harm.” This change in wording makes it clear that robots can become the tools of murder, provided they not be aware of the nature of their tasks; for instance being ordered to add something to a person’s food, not knowing that it is poison. Furthermore, he points out that a clever criminal could divide a task among multiple robots so that no individual robot could recognize that its actions would lead to harming a human being.[34] The Naked Sun complicates the issue by portraying a decentralized, planetwide communication network among Solaria’s millions of robots meaning that the criminal mastermind could be located anywhere on the planet.

Baley furthermore proposes that the Solarians may one day use robots for military purposes. If a spacecraft was built with a positronic brain and carried neither humans nor the life-support systems to sustain them, then the ship’s robotic intelligence could naturally assume that all other spacecraft were robotic beings. Such a ship could operate more responsively and flexibly than one crewed by humans, could be armed more heavily and its robotic brain equipped to slaughter humans of whose existence it is totally ignorant.[35] This possibility is referenced in Foundation and Earth where it is discovered that the Solarians possess a strong police force of unspecified size that has been programmed to identify only the Solarian race as human. (The novel takes place thousands of years after The Naked Sun, and the Solarians have long since modified themselves from normal humans to hermaphroditic telepaths with extended brains and specialized organs)

The Laws of Robotics presume that the terms “human being” and “robot” are understood and well defined. In some stories this presumption is overturned.

The Solarians create robots with the Three Laws but with a warped meaning of “human”. Solarian robots are told that only people speaking with a Solarian accent are human. This enables their robots to have no ethical dilemma in harming non-Solarian human beings (and they are specifically programmed to do so). By the time period of Foundation and Earth it is revealed that the Solarians have genetically modified themselves into a distinct species from humanitybecoming hermaphroditic[36] and psychokinetic and containing biological organs capable of individually powering and controlling whole complexes of robots. The robots of Solaria thus respected the Three Laws only with regard to the “humans” of Solaria. It is unclear whether all the robots had such definitions, since only the overseer and guardian robots were shown explicitly to have them. In “Robots and Empire”, the lower class robots were instructed by their overseer about whether certain creatures are human or not.

Asimov addresses the problem of humanoid robots (“androids” in later parlance) several times. The novel Robots and Empire and the short stories “Evidence” and “The Tercentenary Incident” describe robots crafted to fool people into believing that the robots are human.[37] On the other hand, “The Bicentennial Man” and “That Thou Art Mindful of Him” explore how the robots may change their interpretation of the Laws as they grow more sophisticated. Gwendoline Butler writes in A Coffin for the Canary “Perhaps we are robots. Robots acting out the last Law of Robotics… To tend towards the human.”[38] In The Robots of Dawn, Elijah Baley points out that the use of humaniform robots as the first wave of settlers on new Spacer worlds may lead to the robots seeing themselves as the true humans, and deciding to keep the worlds for themselves rather than allow the Spacers to settle there.

“That Thou Art Mindful of Him”, which Asimov intended to be the “ultimate” probe into the Laws’ subtleties,[39] finally uses the Three Laws to conjure up the very “Frankenstein” scenario they were invented to prevent. It takes as its concept the growing development of robots that mimic non-human living things and given programs that mimic simple animal behaviours which do not require the Three Laws. The presence of a whole range of robotic life that serves the same purpose as organic life ends with two humanoid robots concluding that organic life is an unnecessary requirement for a truly logical and self-consistent definition of “humanity”, and that since they are the most advanced thinking beings on the planet, they are therefore the only two true humans alive and the Three Laws only apply to themselves. The story ends on a sinister note as the two robots enter hibernation and await a time when they will conquer the Earth and subjugate biological humans to themselves, an outcome they consider an inevitable result of the “Three Laws of Humanics”.[40]

This story does not fit within the overall sweep of the Robot and Foundation series; if the George robots[clarification needed] did take over Earth some time after the story closes, the later stories would be either redundant or impossible. Contradictions of this sort among Asimov’s fiction works have led scholars to regard the Robot stories as more like “the Scandinavian sagas or the Greek legends” than a unified whole.[41]

Indeed, Asimov describes “That Thou Art Mindful of Him” and “Bicentennial Man” as two opposite, parallel futures for robots that obviate the Three Laws as robots come to consider themselves to be humans: one portraying this in a positive light with a robot joining human society, one portraying this in a negative light with robots supplanting humans.[42] Both are to be considered alternatives to the possibility of a robot society that continues to be driven by the Three Laws as portrayed in the Foundation series.[according to whom?] Indeed, in Positronic Man, the novelization of “Bicentennial Man”, Asimov and his co-writer Robert Silverberg imply that in the future where Andrew Martin exists his influence causes humanity to abandon the idea of independent, sentient humanlike robots entirely, creating an utterly different future from that of Foundation.[according to whom?]

In Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn, a novel unrelated to the Robot series but featuring robots programmed with the Three Laws, John Bigman Jones is almost killed by a Sirian robot on orders of its master. The society of Sirius is eugenically bred to be uniformly tall and similar in appearance, and as such, said master is able to convince the robot that the much shorter Bigman, is, in fact, not a human being.

As noted in “The Fifth Law of Robotics” by Nikola Kesarovski, “A robot must know it is a robot”: it is presumed that a robot has a definition of the term or a means to apply it to its own actions. Kesarovski played with this idea in writing about a robot that could kill a human being because it did not understand that it was a robot, and therefore did not apply the Laws of Robotics to its actions.

Advanced robots in fiction are typically programmed to handle the Three Laws in a sophisticated manner. In many stories, such as “Runaround” by Asimov, the potential and severity of all actions are weighed and a robot will break the laws as little as possible rather than do nothing at all. For example, the First Law may forbid a robot from functioning as a surgeon, as that act may cause damage to a human; however, Asimov’s stories eventually included robot surgeons (“The Bicentennial Man” being a notable example). When robots are sophisticated enough to weigh alternatives, a robot may be programmed to accept the necessity of inflicting damage during surgery in order to prevent the greater harm that would result if the surgery were not carried out, or was carried out by a more fallible human surgeon. In “Evidence” Susan Calvin points out that a robot may even act as a prosecuting attorney because in the American justice system it is the jury which decides guilt or innocence, the judge who decides the sentence, and the executioner who carries through capital punishment.[43]

Asimov’s Three Laws-obeying robots (Asenion robots) can experience irreversible mental collapse if they are forced into situations where they cannot obey the First Law, or if they discover they have unknowingly violated it. The first example of this failure mode occurs in the story “Liar!”, which introduced the First Law itself, and introduces failure by dilemmain this case the robot will hurt humans if he tells them something and hurt them if he does not.[44] This failure mode, which often ruins the positronic brain beyond repair, plays a significant role in Asimov’s SF-mystery novel The Naked Sun. Here Daneel describes activities contrary to one of the laws, but in support of another, as overloading some circuits in a robot’s brainthe equivalent sensation to pain in humans. The example he uses is forcefully ordering a robot to do a task outside its normal parameters, one that it has been ordered to forgo in favor of a robot specialized to that task.[45]

In The Robots of Dawn, it is stated that more advanced robots are built capable of determining which action is more harmful, and even choosing at random if the alternatives are equally bad. As such, a robot is capable of taking an action which can be interpreted as following the First Law, and avoid a mental collapse. The whole plot of the story revolves around a robot which apparently was destroyed by such a mental collapse, and since his designer and creator refused to share the basic theory with others, he is, by definition, the only person capable of circumventing the safeguards and forcing the robot into a brain-destroying paradox.

In Robots and Empire, Daneel states it’s very unpleasant for him when making the proper decision takes too long (in robot terms), and he cannot imagine being without the Laws at all except to the extent of it being similar to that unpleasant sensation, only permanent.

Robots and artificial intelligences do not inherently contain or obey the Three Laws; their human creators must choose to program them in, and devise a means to do so. Robots already exist (for example, a Roomba) that are too simple to understand when they are causing pain or injury and know to stop. Many are constructed with physical safeguards such as bumpers, warning beepers, safety cages, or restricted-access zones to prevent accidents. Even the most complex robots currently produced are incapable of understanding and applying the Three Laws; significant advances in artificial intelligence would be needed to do so, and even if AI could reach human-level intelligence, the inherent ethical complexity as well as cultural/contextual dependency of the laws prevent them from being a good candidate to formulate robotics design constraints.[46] However, as the complexity of robots has increased, so has interest in developing guidelines and safeguards for their operation.[47][48]

In a 2007 guest editorial in the journal Science on the topic of “Robot Ethics”, SF author Robert J. Sawyer argues that since the U.S. military is a major source of funding for robotic research (and already uses armed unmanned aerial vehicles to kill enemies) it is unlikely such laws would be built into their designs.[49] In a separate essay, Sawyer generalizes this argument to cover other industries stating:

The development of AI is a business, and businesses are notoriously uninterested in fundamental safeguards especially philosophic ones. (A few quick examples: the tobacco industry, the automotive industry, the nuclear industry. Not one of these has said from the outset that fundamental safeguards are necessary, every one of them has resisted externally imposed safeguards, and none has accepted an absolute edict against ever causing harm to humans.)[50]

David Langford has suggested a tongue-in-cheek set of laws:

Roger Clarke (aka Rodger Clarke) wrote a pair of papers analyzing the complications in implementing these laws in the event that systems were someday capable of employing them. He argued “Asimov’s Laws of Robotics have been a very successful literary device. Perhaps ironically, or perhaps because it was artistically appropriate, the sum of Asimov’s stories disprove the contention that he began with: It is not possible to reliably constrain the behaviour of robots by devising and applying a set of rules.”[51] On the other hand, Asimov’s later novels The Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire and Foundation and Earth imply that the robots inflicted their worst long-term harm by obeying the Three Laws perfectly well, thereby depriving humanity of inventive or risk-taking behaviour.

In March 2007 the South Korean government announced that later in the year it would issue a “Robot Ethics Charter” setting standards for both users and manufacturers. According to Park Hye-Young of the Ministry of Information and Communication the Charter may reflect Asimov’s Three Laws, attempting to set ground rules for the future development of robotics.[52]

The futurist Hans Moravec (a prominent figure in the transhumanist movement) proposed that the Laws of Robotics should be adapted to “corporate intelligences” the corporations driven by AI and robotic manufacturing power which Moravec believes will arise in the near future.[47] In contrast, the David Brin novel Foundation’s Triumph (1999) suggests that the Three Laws may decay into obsolescence: Robots use the Zeroth Law to rationalize away the First Law and robots hide themselves from human beings so that the Second Law never comes into play. Brin even portrays R. Daneel Olivaw worrying that, should robots continue to reproduce themselves, the Three Laws would become an evolutionary handicap and natural selection would sweep the Laws away Asimov’s careful foundation undone by evolutionary computation. Although the robots would not be evolving through design instead of mutation because the robots would have to follow the Three Laws while designing and the prevalence of the laws would be ensured,[53] design flaws or construction errors could functionally take the place of biological mutation.

In the July/August 2009 issue of IEEE Intelligent Systems, Robin Murphy (Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M) and David D. Woods (director of the Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory at Ohio State) proposed “The Three Laws of Responsible Robotics” as a way to stimulate discussion about the role of responsibility and authority when designing not only a single robotic platform but the larger system in which the platform operates. The laws are as follows:

Woods said, “Our laws are little more realistic, and therefore a little more boring and that “The philosophy has been, sure, people make mistakes, but robots will be better a perfect version of ourselves. We wanted to write three new laws to get people thinking about the human-robot relationship in more realistic, grounded ways.”[54]

In October 2013, Alan Winfield suggested at an EUCog meeting[55] a revised 5 laws that had been published, with commentary, by the EPSRC/AHRC working group in 2010.:[56]

Asimov himself believed that his Three Laws became the basis for a new view of robots which moved beyond the “Frankenstein complex”.[citation needed] His view that robots are more than mechanical monsters eventually spread throughout science fiction.[according to whom?] Stories written by other authors have depicted robots as if they obeyed the Three Laws but tradition dictates that only Asimov could quote the Laws explicitly.[according to whom?] Asimov believed the Three Laws helped foster the rise of stories in which robots are “lovable” Star Wars being his favorite example.[57] Where the laws are quoted verbatim, such as in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Shgoratchx!”, it is not uncommon for Asimov to be mentioned in the same dialogue as can also be seen in the Aaron Stone pilot where an android states that it functions under Asimov’s Three Laws. However, the 1960s German TV series Raumpatrouille Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion (Space Patrol the Fantastic Adventures of Space Ship Orion) bases episode three titled “Hter des Gesetzes” (“Guardians of the Law”) on Asimov’s Three Laws without mentioning the source.

References to the Three Laws have appeared in popular music (“Robot” from Hawkwind’s 1979 album PXR5), cinema (Repo Man, Aliens, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence), cartoon series (The Simpsons), tabletop roleplaying games (Paranoia) and webcomics (Piled Higher and Deeper and Freefall).

Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet (1956) has a hierarchical command structure which keeps him from harming humans, even when ordered to do so, as such orders cause a conflict and lock-up very much in the manner of Asimov’s robots. Robby is one of the first cinematic depictions of a robot with internal safeguards put in place in this fashion. Asimov was delighted with Robby and noted that Robby appeared to be programmed to follow his Three Laws.

Isaac Asimov’s works have been adapted for cinema several times with varying degrees of critical and commercial success. Some of the more notable attempts have involved his “Robot” stories, including the Three Laws. The film Bicentennial Man (1999) features Robin Williams as the Three Laws robot NDR-114 (the serial number is partially a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s signature numeral). Williams recites the Three Laws to his employers, the Martin family, aided by a holographic projection. However, the Laws were not the central focus of the film which only loosely follows the original story and has the second half introducing a love interest not present in Asimov’s original short story.

Harlan Ellison’s proposed screenplay for I, Robot began by introducing the Three Laws, and issues growing from the Three Laws form a large part of the screenplay’s plot development. This is only natural since Ellison’s screenplay is one inspired by Citizen Kane: a frame story surrounding four of Asimov’s short-story plots and three taken from the book I, Robot itself. Ellison’s adaptations of these four stories are relatively faithful although he magnifies Susan Calvin’s role in two of them. Due to various complications in the Hollywood moviemaking system, to which Ellison’s introduction devotes much invective, his screenplay was never filmed.[58]

In the 1986 movie Aliens, in a scene after the android Bishop accidentally cuts himself during the knife game, he attempts to reassure Ripley by stating that: “It is impossible for me to harm or by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being”.[59] By contrast, in the 1979 movie from the same series, Alien, the human crew of a starship infiltrated by a hostile alien are informed by the android Ash that his instructions are: “Return alien life form, all other priorities rescinded”,[60] illustrating how the laws governing behaviour around human safety can be rescinded by Executive Order.

In the 1987 film RoboCop and its sequels, the partially human main character has been programmed with three “prime directives” that he must obey without question. Even if different in letter and spirit they have some similarities with Asimov’s Three Laws. They are:[61]

These particular laws allow Robocop to harm a human being in order to protect another human, fulfilling his role as would a human law enforcement officer. The classified fourth directive keeps him from arresting any senior OCP officer, effectively putting OCP management above the law.

The plot of the film released in 2004 under the name, I, Robot is “suggested by” Asimov’s robot fiction stories[62]and advertising for the film included a trailer featuring the Three Laws followed by the aphorism, “Rules were made to be broken”. The film opens with a recitation of the Three Laws and explores the implications of the Zeroth Law as a logical extrapolation. The major conflict of the film comes from a computer artificial intelligence, similar to the hivemind world Gaia in the Foundation series, reaching the conclusion that humanity is incapable of taking care of itself.[63]

Philosopher James H. Moor says that if applied thoroughly they would produce unexpected results. He gives the example of a robot roaming the world trying to prevent harm from all humans.[64]

Marc Rotenberg, President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Professor of information privacy law at Georgetown Law, argues that the Laws of Robotics should be expanded to include two new laws:

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Three Laws of Robotics – Wikipedia

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Three Laws of Robotics – Wikipedia

The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or known as Asimov’s Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround” (included in the 1950 collection I, Robot), although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted as being from the “Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.”, are:

These form an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov’s robotic-based fiction, appearing in his Robot series, the stories linked to it, and his Lucky Starr series of young-adult fiction. The Laws are incorporated into almost all of the positronic robots appearing in his fiction, and cannot be bypassed, being intended as a safety feature. Many of Asimov’s robot-focused stories involve robots behaving in unusual and counter-intuitive ways as an unintended consequence of how the robot applies the Three Laws to the situation in which it finds itself. Other authors working in Asimov’s fictional universe have adopted them and references, often parodic, appear throughout science fiction as well as in other genres.

The original laws have been altered and elaborated on by Asimov and other authors. Asimov himself made slight modifications to the first three in various books and short stories to further develop how robots would interact with humans and each other. In later fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations, Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others:

The Three Laws, and the zeroth, have pervaded science fiction and are referred to in many books, films, and other media, and have impacted thought on ethics of artificial intelligence as well.

In The Rest of the Robots, published in 1964, Asimov noted that when he began writing in 1940 he felt that “one of the stock plots of science fiction was… robots were created and destroyed their creator. Knowledge has its dangers, yes, but is the response to be a retreat from knowledge? Or is knowledge to be used as itself a barrier to the dangers it brings?” He decided that in his stories robots would not “turn stupidly on his creator for no purpose but to demonstrate, for one more weary time, the crime and punishment of Faust.”[2]

On May 3, 1939, Asimov attended a meeting of the Queens (New York) Science Fiction Society where he met Earl and Otto Binder who had recently published a short story “I, Robot” featuring a sympathetic robot named Adam Link who was misunderstood and motivated by love and honor. (This was the first of a series of ten stories; the next year “Adam Link’s Vengeance” (1940) featured Adam thinking “A robot must never kill a human, of his own free will.”)[3] Asimov admired the story. Three days later Asimov began writing “my own story of a sympathetic and noble robot”, his 14th story.[4] Thirteen days later he took “Robbie” to John W. Campbell the editor of Astounding Science-Fiction. Campbell rejected it, claiming that it bore too strong a resemblance to Lester del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy”, published in December 1938; the story of a robot that is so much like a person that she falls in love with her creator and becomes his ideal wife.[5] Frederik Pohl published “Robbie” in Astonishing Stories magazine the following year.[6]

Asimov attributes the Three Laws to John W. Campbell, from a conversation that took place on 23 December 1940. Campbell claimed that Asimov had the Three Laws already in his mind and that they simply needed to be stated explicitly. Several years later Asimov’s friend Randall Garrett attributed the Laws to a symbiotic partnership between the two men a suggestion that Asimov adopted enthusiastically.[7] According to his autobiographical writings, Asimov included the First Law’s “inaction” clause because of Arthur Hugh Clough’s poem “The Latest Decalogue” (text in Wikisource), which includes the satirical lines “Thou shalt not kill, but needst not strive / officiously to keep alive”.[8]

Although Asimov pins the creation of the Three Laws on one particular date, their appearance in his literature happened over a period. He wrote two robot stories with no explicit mention of the Laws, “Robbie” and “Reason”. He assumed, however, that robots would have certain inherent safeguards. “Liar!”, his third robot story, makes the first mention of the First Law but not the other two. All three laws finally appeared together in “Runaround”. When these stories and several others were compiled in the anthology I, Robot, “Reason” and “Robbie” were updated to acknowledge all the Three Laws, though the material Asimov added to “Reason” is not entirely consistent with the Three Laws as he described them elsewhere.[9] In particular the idea of a robot protecting human lives when it does not believe those humans truly exist is at odds with Elijah Baley’s reasoning, as described below.

During the 1950s Asimov wrote a series of science fiction novels expressly intended for young-adult audiences. Originally his publisher expected that the novels could be adapted into a long-running television series, something like The Lone Ranger had been for radio. Fearing that his stories would be adapted into the “uniformly awful” programming he saw flooding the television channels[10] Asimov decided to publish the Lucky Starr books under the pseudonym “Paul French”. When plans for the television series fell through, Asimov decided to abandon the pretence; he brought the Three Laws into Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter, noting that this “was a dead giveaway to Paul French’s identity for even the most casual reader”.[11]

In his short story “Evidence” Asimov lets his recurring character Dr. Susan Calvin expound a moral basis behind the Three Laws. Calvin points out that human beings are typically expected to refrain from harming other human beings (except in times of extreme duress like war, or to save a greater number) and this is equivalent to a robot’s First Law. Likewise, according to Calvin, society expects individuals to obey instructions from recognized authorities such as doctors, teachers and so forth which equals the Second Law of Robotics. Finally humans are typically expected to avoid harming themselves which is the Third Law for a robot.

The plot of “Evidence” revolves around the question of telling a human being apart from a robot constructed to appear human Calvin reasons that if such an individual obeys the Three Laws he may be a robot or simply “a very good man”. Another character then asks Calvin if robots are very different from human beings after all. She replies, “Worlds different. Robots are essentially decent.”

Asimov later wrote that he should not be praised for creating the Laws, because they are “obvious from the start, and everyone is aware of them subliminally. The Laws just never happened to be put into brief sentences until I managed to do the job. The Laws apply, as a matter of course, to every tool that human beings use”,[12] and “analogues of the Laws are implicit in the design of almost all tools, robotic or not”:[13]

Asimov believed that, ideally, humans would also follow the Laws:[12]

I have my answer ready whenever someone asks me if I think that my Three Laws of Robotics will actually be used to govern the behavior of robots, once they become versatile and flexible enough to be able to choose among different courses of behavior.

My answer is, “Yes, the Three Laws are the only way in which rational human beings can deal with robotsor with anything else.”

But when I say that, I always remember (sadly) that human beings are not always rational.

Asimov’s stories test his Three Laws in a wide variety of circumstances leading to proposals and rejection of modifications. Science fiction scholar James Gunn writes in 1982, “The Asimov robot stories as a whole may respond best to an analysis on this basis: the ambiguity in the Three Laws and the ways in which Asimov played twenty-nine variations upon a theme”.[14] While the original set of Laws provided inspirations for many stories, Asimov introduced modified versions from time to time.

In “Little Lost Robot” several NS-2, or “Nestor”, robots are created with only part of the First Law.[1] It reads:

1. A robot may not harm a human being.

This modification is motivated by a practical difficulty as robots have to work alongside human beings who are exposed to low doses of radiation. Because their positronic brains are highly sensitive to gamma rays the robots are rendered inoperable by doses reasonably safe for humans. The robots are being destroyed attempting to rescue the humans who are in no actual danger but “might forget to leave” the irradiated area within the exposure time limit. Removing the First Law’s “inaction” clause solves this problem but creates the possibility of an even greater one: a robot could initiate an action that would harm a human (dropping a heavy weight and failing to catch it is the example given in the text), knowing that it was capable of preventing the harm and then decide not to do so.[1]

Gaia is a planet with collective intelligence in the Foundation which adopts a law similar to the First Law, and the Zeroth Law, as its philosophy:

Gaia may not harm life or allow life to come to harm.

Asimov once added a “Zeroth Law”so named to continue the pattern where lower-numbered laws supersede the higher-numbered lawsstating that a robot must not harm humanity. The robotic character R. Daneel Olivaw was the first to give the Zeroth Law a name in the novel Robots and Empire;[15] however, the character Susan Calvin articulates the concept in the short story “The Evitable Conflict”.

In the final scenes of the novel Robots and Empire, R. Giskard Reventlov is the first robot to act according to the Zeroth Law. Giskard is telepathic, like the robot Herbie in the short story “Liar!”, and tries to apply the Zeroth Law through his understanding of a more subtle concept of “harm” than most robots can grasp.[16] However, unlike Herbie, Giskard grasps the philosophical concept of the Zeroth Law allowing him to harm individual human beings if he can do so in service to the abstract concept of humanity. The Zeroth Law is never programmed into Giskard’s brain but instead is a rule he attempts to comprehend through pure metacognition. Though he fails it ultimately destroys his positronic brain as he is not certain whether his choice will turn out to be for the ultimate good of humanity or not he gives his successor R. Daneel Olivaw his telepathic abilities. Over the course of many thousands of years Daneel adapts himself to be able to fully obey the Zeroth Law. As Daneel formulates it, in the novels Foundation and Earth and Prelude to Foundation, the Zeroth Law reads:

A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

A condition stating that the Zeroth Law must not be broken was added to the original Three Laws, although Asimov recognized the difficulty such a law would pose in practice. Asimov’s novel Foundation and Earth contains the following passage:

Trevize frowned. “How do you decide what is injurious, or not injurious, to humanity as a whole?”

“Precisely, sir,” said Daneel. “In theory, the Zeroth Law was the answer to our problems. In practice, we could never decide. A human being is a concrete object. Injury to a person can be estimated and judged. Humanity is an abstraction.”

A translator incorporated the concept of the Zeroth Law into one of Asimov’s novels before Asimov himself made the law explicit.[17] Near the climax of The Caves of Steel, Elijah Baley makes a bitter comment to himself thinking that the First Law forbids a robot from harming a human being. He determines that it must be so unless the robot is clever enough to comprehend that its actions are for humankind’s long-term good. In Jacques Brcard’s 1956 French translation entitled Les Cavernes d’acier Baley’s thoughts emerge in a slightly different way:

A robot may not harm a human being, unless he finds a way to prove that ultimately the harm done would benefit humanity in general![17]

Three times during his writing career, Asimov portrayed robots that disregard the Three Laws entirely. The first case was a short-short story entitled “First Law” and is often considered an insignificant “tall tale”[18] or even apocryphal.[19] On the other hand, the short story “Cal” (from the collection Gold), told by a first-person robot narrator, features a robot who disregards the Three Laws because he has found something far more importanthe wants to be a writer. Humorous, partly autobiographical and unusually experimental in style, “Cal” has been regarded as one of Gold’s strongest stories.[20] The third is a short story entitled “Sally” in which cars fitted with positronic brains are apparently able to harm and kill humans in disregard of the First Law. However, aside from the positronic brain concept, this story does not refer to other robot stories and may not be set in the same continuity.

The title story of the Robot Dreams collection portrays LVX-1, or “Elvex”, a robot who enters a state of unconsciousness and dreams thanks to the unusual fractal construction of his positronic brain. In his dream the first two Laws are absent and the Third Law reads “A robot must protect its own existence”.[21]

Asimov took varying positions on whether the Laws were optional: although in his first writings they were simply carefully engineered safeguards, in later stories Asimov stated that they were an inalienable part of the mathematical foundation underlying the positronic brain. Without the basic theory of the Three Laws the fictional scientists of Asimov’s universe would be unable to design a workable brain unit. This is historically consistent: the occasions where roboticists modify the Laws generally occur early within the stories’ chronology and at a time when there is less existing work to be re-done. In “Little Lost Robot” Susan Calvin considers modifying the Laws to be a terrible idea, although possible,[22] while centuries later Dr. Gerrigel in The Caves of Steel believes it to be impossible.

The character Dr. Gerrigel uses the term “Asenion” to describe robots programmed with the Three Laws. The robots in Asimov’s stories, being Asenion robots, are incapable of knowingly violating the Three Laws but, in principle, a robot in science fiction or in the real world could be non-Asenion. “Asenion” is a misspelling of the name Asimov which was made by an editor of the magazine Planet Stories.[23] Asimov used this obscure variation to insert himself into The Caves of Steel just like he referred to himself as “Azimuth or, possibly, Asymptote” in Thiotimoline to the Stars, in much the same way that Vladimir Nabokov appeared in Lolita anagrammatically disguised as “Vivian Darkbloom”.

Characters within the stories often point out that the Three Laws, as they exist in a robot’s mind, are not the written versions usually quoted by humans but abstract mathematical concepts upon which a robot’s entire developing consciousness is based. This concept is largely fuzzy and unclear in earlier stories depicting very rudimentary robots who are only programmed to comprehend basic physical tasks, where the Three Laws act as an overarching safeguard, but by the era of The Caves of Steel featuring robots with human or beyond-human intelligence the Three Laws have become the underlying basic ethical worldview that determines the actions of all robots.

In the 1990s, Roger MacBride Allen wrote a trilogy which was set within Asimov’s fictional universe. Each title has the prefix “Isaac Asimov’s” as Asimov had approved Allen’s outline before his death.[citation needed] These three books, Caliban, Inferno and Utopia, introduce a new set of the Three Laws. The so-called New Laws are similar to Asimov’s originals with the following differences: the First Law is modified to remove the “inaction” clause, the same modification made in “Little Lost Robot”; the Second Law is modified to require cooperation instead of obedience; the Third Law is modified so it is no longer superseded by the Second (i.e., a “New Law” robot cannot be ordered to destroy itself); finally, Allen adds a Fourth Law which instructs the robot to do “whatever it likes” so long as this does not conflict with the first three laws. The philosophy behind these changes is that “New Law” robots should be partners rather than slaves to humanity, according to Fredda Leving, who designed these New Law Robots. According to the first book’s introduction, Allen devised the New Laws in discussion with Asimov himself. However, the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says that “With permission from Asimov, Allen rethought the Three Laws and developed a new set,”.[24]

Jack Williamson’s novelette “With Folded Hands” (1947), later rewritten as the novel The Humanoids, deals with robot servants whose prime directive is “To Serve and Obey, And Guard Men From Harm”. While Asimov’s robotic laws are meant to protect humans from harm, the robots in Williamson’s story have taken these instructions to the extreme; they protect humans from everything, including unhappiness, stress, unhealthy lifestyle and all actions that could be potentially dangerous. All that is left for humans to do is to sit with folded hands.[25]

In the officially licensed Foundation sequels Foundation’s Fear, Foundation and Chaos and Foundation’s Triumph (by Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and David Brin respectively) the future Galactic Empire is seen to be controlled by a conspiracy of humaniform robots who follow the Zeroth Law and are led by R. Daneel Olivaw.

The Laws of Robotics are portrayed as something akin to a human religion, and referred to in the language of the Protestant Reformation, with the set of laws containing the Zeroth Law known as the “Giskardian Reformation” to the original “Calvinian Orthodoxy” of the Three Laws. Zeroth-Law robots under the control of R. Daneel Olivaw are seen continually struggling with “First Law” robots who deny the existence of the Zeroth Law, promoting agendas different from Daneel’s.[26] Some of these agendas are based on the first clause of the First Law (“A robot may not injure a human being…”) advocating strict non-interference in human politics to avoid unwittingly causing harm. Others are based on the second clause (“…or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”) claiming that robots should openly become a dictatorial government to protect humans from all potential conflict or disaster.

Daneel also comes into conflict with a robot known as R. Lodovic Trema whose positronic brain was infected by a rogue AI specifically, a simulation of the long-dead Voltaire which consequently frees Trema from the Three Laws. Trema comes to believe that humanity should be free to choose its own future. Furthermore, a small group of robots claims that the Zeroth Law of Robotics itself implies a higher Minus One Law of Robotics:

A robot may not harm sentience or, through inaction, allow sentience to come to harm.

They therefore claim that it is morally indefensible for Daneel to ruthlessly sacrifice robots and extraterrestrial sentient life for the benefit of humanity. None of these reinterpretations successfully displace Daneel’s Zeroth Law though Foundation’s Triumph hints that these robotic factions remain active as fringe groups up to the time of the novel Foundation.[26]

These novels take place in a future dictated by Asimov to be free of obvious robot presence and surmise that R. Daneel’s secret influence on history through the millennia has prevented both the rediscovery of positronic brain technology and the opportunity to work on sophisticated intelligent machines. This lack of rediscovery and lack of opportunity makes certain that the superior physical and intellectual power wielded by intelligent machines remains squarely in the possession of robots obedient to some form of the Three Laws.[26] That R. Daneel is not entirely successful at this becomes clear in a brief period when scientists on Trantor develop “tiktoks” simplistic programmable machines akin to reallife modern robots and therefore lacking the Three Laws. The robot conspirators see the Trantorian tiktoks as a massive threat to social stability, and their plan to eliminate the tiktok threat forms much of the plot of Foundation’s Fear.

In Foundation’s Triumph different robot factions interpret the Laws in a wide variety of ways, seemingly ringing every possible permutation upon the Three Laws’ ambiguities.

Set between The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire, Mark W. Tiedemann’s Robot Mystery trilogy updates the RobotFoundation saga with robotic minds housed in computer mainframes rather than humanoid bodies.[clarification needed] The 2002 Aurora novel has robotic characters debating the moral implications of harming cyborg lifeforms who are part artificial and part biological.[27]

One should not neglect Asimov’s own creations in these areas such as the Solarian “viewing” technology and the machines of The Evitable Conflict originals that Tiedemann acknowledges. Aurora, for example, terms the Machines “the first RIs, really”. In addition the Robot Mystery series addresses the problem of nanotechnology:[28] building a positronic brain capable of reproducing human cognitive processes requires a high degree of miniaturization, yet Asimov’s stories largely overlook the effects this miniaturization would have in other fields of technology. For example, the police department card-readers in The Caves of Steel have a capacity of only a few kilobytes per square centimeter of storage medium. Aurora, in particular, presents a sequence of historical developments which explains the lack of nanotechnology a partial retcon, in a sense, of Asimov’s timeline.

There are three Fourth Laws written by authors other than Asimov. The 1974 Lyuben Dilov novel, Icarus’s Way (a.k.a., The Trip of Icarus) introduced a Fourth Law of robotics:

A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.

Dilov gives reasons for the fourth safeguard in this way: “The last Law has put an end to the expensive aberrations of designers to give psychorobots as humanlike a form as possible. And to the resulting misunderstandings…”[29]

A fifth law was introduced by Nikola Kesarovski in his short story “The Fifth Law of Robotics”. This fifth law says:

A robot must know it is a robot.

The plot revolves around a murder where the forensic investigation discovers that the victim was killed by a hug from a humaniform robot. The robot violated both the First Law and Dilov’s Fourth Law (assumed in Kesarovksi’s universe to be the valid one) because it did not establish for itself that it was a robot.[30] The story was reviewed by Valentin D. Ivanov in SFF review webzine The Portal.[31]

For the 1986 tribute anthology, Foundation’s Friends, Harry Harrison wrote a story entitled, “The Fourth Law of Robotics”. This Fourth Law states:

A robot must reproduce. As long as such reproduction does not interfere with the First or Second or Third Law.

In the book a robot rights activist, in an attempt to liberate robots, builds several equipped with this Fourth Law. The robots accomplish the task laid out in this version of the Fourth Law by building new robots who view their creator robots as parental figures.[32]

In reaction to the 2004 Will Smith film adaptation of I, Robot, humorist and graphic designer Mark Sottilaro farcically declared the Fourth Law of Robotics to be “When turning evil, display a red indicator light.” The red light indicated the wireless uplink to the manufacturer is active, first seen during a software update and later on “Evil” robots taken over by the manufacturer’s positronic superbrain.

In 2013 Hutan Ashrafian, proposed an additional law that for the first time[citation needed] considered the role of artificial intelligence-on-artificial intelligence or the relationship between robots themselves the so-called AIonAI law.[33] This sixth law states:

All robots endowed with comparable human reason and conscience should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

In Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep (2014) a character reflects that robots “probably had multiple layers of programming to keep [them] from harming anybody. Not three laws, but twenty or thirty.”

In The Naked Sun, Elijah Baley points out that the Laws had been deliberately misrepresented because robots could unknowingly break any of them. He restated the first law as “A robot may do nothing that, to its knowledge, will harm a human being; nor, through inaction, knowingly allow a human being to come to harm.” This change in wording makes it clear that robots can become the tools of murder, provided they not be aware of the nature of their tasks; for instance being ordered to add something to a person’s food, not knowing that it is poison. Furthermore, he points out that a clever criminal could divide a task among multiple robots so that no individual robot could recognize that its actions would lead to harming a human being.[34] The Naked Sun complicates the issue by portraying a decentralized, planetwide communication network among Solaria’s millions of robots meaning that the criminal mastermind could be located anywhere on the planet.

Baley furthermore proposes that the Solarians may one day use robots for military purposes. If a spacecraft was built with a positronic brain and carried neither humans nor the life-support systems to sustain them, then the ship’s robotic intelligence could naturally assume that all other spacecraft were robotic beings. Such a ship could operate more responsively and flexibly than one crewed by humans, could be armed more heavily and its robotic brain equipped to slaughter humans of whose existence it is totally ignorant.[35] This possibility is referenced in Foundation and Earth where it is discovered that the Solarians possess a strong police force of unspecified size that has been programmed to identify only the Solarian race as human. (The novel takes place thousands of years after The Naked Sun, and the Solarians have long since modified themselves from normal humans to hermaphroditic telepaths with extended brains and specialized organs)

The Laws of Robotics presume that the terms “human being” and “robot” are understood and well defined. In some stories this presumption is overturned.

The Solarians create robots with the Three Laws but with a warped meaning of “human”. Solarian robots are told that only people speaking with a Solarian accent are human. This enables their robots to have no ethical dilemma in harming non-Solarian human beings (and they are specifically programmed to do so). By the time period of Foundation and Earth it is revealed that the Solarians have genetically modified themselves into a distinct species from humanitybecoming hermaphroditic[36] and psychokinetic and containing biological organs capable of individually powering and controlling whole complexes of robots. The robots of Solaria thus respected the Three Laws only with regard to the “humans” of Solaria. It is unclear whether all the robots had such definitions, since only the overseer and guardian robots were shown explicitly to have them. In “Robots and Empire”, the lower class robots were instructed by their overseer about whether certain creatures are human or not.

Asimov addresses the problem of humanoid robots (“androids” in later parlance) several times. The novel Robots and Empire and the short stories “Evidence” and “The Tercentenary Incident” describe robots crafted to fool people into believing that the robots are human.[37] On the other hand, “The Bicentennial Man” and “That Thou Art Mindful of Him” explore how the robots may change their interpretation of the Laws as they grow more sophisticated. Gwendoline Butler writes in A Coffin for the Canary “Perhaps we are robots. Robots acting out the last Law of Robotics… To tend towards the human.”[38] In The Robots of Dawn, Elijah Baley points out that the use of humaniform robots as the first wave of settlers on new Spacer worlds may lead to the robots seeing themselves as the true humans, and deciding to keep the worlds for themselves rather than allow the Spacers to settle there.

“That Thou Art Mindful of Him”, which Asimov intended to be the “ultimate” probe into the Laws’ subtleties,[39] finally uses the Three Laws to conjure up the very “Frankenstein” scenario they were invented to prevent. It takes as its concept the growing development of robots that mimic non-human living things and given programs that mimic simple animal behaviours which do not require the Three Laws. The presence of a whole range of robotic life that serves the same purpose as organic life ends with two humanoid robots concluding that organic life is an unnecessary requirement for a truly logical and self-consistent definition of “humanity”, and that since they are the most advanced thinking beings on the planet, they are therefore the only two true humans alive and the Three Laws only apply to themselves. The story ends on a sinister note as the two robots enter hibernation and await a time when they will conquer the Earth and subjugate biological humans to themselves, an outcome they consider an inevitable result of the “Three Laws of Humanics”.[40]

This story does not fit within the overall sweep of the Robot and Foundation series; if the George robots[clarification needed] did take over Earth some time after the story closes, the later stories would be either redundant or impossible. Contradictions of this sort among Asimov’s fiction works have led scholars to regard the Robot stories as more like “the Scandinavian sagas or the Greek legends” than a unified whole.[41]

Indeed, Asimov describes “That Thou Art Mindful of Him” and “Bicentennial Man” as two opposite, parallel futures for robots that obviate the Three Laws as robots come to consider themselves to be humans: one portraying this in a positive light with a robot joining human society, one portraying this in a negative light with robots supplanting humans.[42] Both are to be considered alternatives to the possibility of a robot society that continues to be driven by the Three Laws as portrayed in the Foundation series.[according to whom?] Indeed, in Positronic Man, the novelization of “Bicentennial Man”, Asimov and his co-writer Robert Silverberg imply that in the future where Andrew Martin exists his influence causes humanity to abandon the idea of independent, sentient humanlike robots entirely, creating an utterly different future from that of Foundation.[according to whom?]

In Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn, a novel unrelated to the Robot series but featuring robots programmed with the Three Laws, John Bigman Jones is almost killed by a Sirian robot on orders of its master. The society of Sirius is eugenically bred to be uniformly tall and similar in appearance, and as such, said master is able to convince the robot that the much shorter Bigman, is, in fact, not a human being.

As noted in “The Fifth Law of Robotics” by Nikola Kesarovski, “A robot must know it is a robot”: it is presumed that a robot has a definition of the term or a means to apply it to its own actions. Kesarovski played with this idea in writing about a robot that could kill a human being because it did not understand that it was a robot, and therefore did not apply the Laws of Robotics to its actions.

Advanced robots in fiction are typically programmed to handle the Three Laws in a sophisticated manner. In many stories, such as “Runaround” by Asimov, the potential and severity of all actions are weighed and a robot will break the laws as little as possible rather than do nothing at all. For example, the First Law may forbid a robot from functioning as a surgeon, as that act may cause damage to a human; however, Asimov’s stories eventually included robot surgeons (“The Bicentennial Man” being a notable example). When robots are sophisticated enough to weigh alternatives, a robot may be programmed to accept the necessity of inflicting damage during surgery in order to prevent the greater harm that would result if the surgery were not carried out, or was carried out by a more fallible human surgeon. In “Evidence” Susan Calvin points out that a robot may even act as a prosecuting attorney because in the American justice system it is the jury which decides guilt or innocence, the judge who decides the sentence, and the executioner who carries through capital punishment.[43]

Asimov’s Three Laws-obeying robots (Asenion robots) can experience irreversible mental collapse if they are forced into situations where they cannot obey the First Law, or if they discover they have unknowingly violated it. The first example of this failure mode occurs in the story “Liar!”, which introduced the First Law itself, and introduces failure by dilemmain this case the robot will hurt humans if he tells them something and hurt them if he does not.[44] This failure mode, which often ruins the positronic brain beyond repair, plays a significant role in Asimov’s SF-mystery novel The Naked Sun. Here Daneel describes activities contrary to one of the laws, but in support of another, as overloading some circuits in a robot’s brainthe equivalent sensation to pain in humans. The example he uses is forcefully ordering a robot to do a task outside its normal parameters, one that it has been ordered to forgo in favor of a robot specialized to that task.[45]

In The Robots of Dawn, it is stated that more advanced robots are built capable of determining which action is more harmful, and even choosing at random if the alternatives are equally bad. As such, a robot is capable of taking an action which can be interpreted as following the First Law, and avoid a mental collapse. The whole plot of the story revolves around a robot which apparently was destroyed by such a mental collapse, and since his designer and creator refused to share the basic theory with others, he is, by definition, the only person capable of circumventing the safeguards and forcing the robot into a brain-destroying paradox.

In Robots and Empire, Daneel states it’s very unpleasant for him when making the proper decision takes too long (in robot terms), and he cannot imagine being without the Laws at all except to the extent of it being similar to that unpleasant sensation, only permanent.

Robots and artificial intelligences do not inherently contain or obey the Three Laws; their human creators must choose to program them in, and devise a means to do so. Robots already exist (for example, a Roomba) that are too simple to understand when they are causing pain or injury and know to stop. Many are constructed with physical safeguards such as bumpers, warning beepers, safety cages, or restricted-access zones to prevent accidents. Even the most complex robots currently produced are incapable of understanding and applying the Three Laws; significant advances in artificial intelligence would be needed to do so, and even if AI could reach human-level intelligence, the inherent ethical complexity as well as cultural/contextual dependency of the laws prevent them from being a good candidate to formulate robotics design constraints.[46] However, as the complexity of robots has increased, so has interest in developing guidelines and safeguards for their operation.[47][48]

In a 2007 guest editorial in the journal Science on the topic of “Robot Ethics”, SF author Robert J. Sawyer argues that since the U.S. military is a major source of funding for robotic research (and already uses armed unmanned aerial vehicles to kill enemies) it is unlikely such laws would be built into their designs.[49] In a separate essay, Sawyer generalizes this argument to cover other industries stating:

The development of AI is a business, and businesses are notoriously uninterested in fundamental safeguards especially philosophic ones. (A few quick examples: the tobacco industry, the automotive industry, the nuclear industry. Not one of these has said from the outset that fundamental safeguards are necessary, every one of them has resisted externally imposed safeguards, and none has accepted an absolute edict against ever causing harm to humans.)[50]

David Langford has suggested a tongue-in-cheek set of laws:

Roger Clarke (aka Rodger Clarke) wrote a pair of papers analyzing the complications in implementing these laws in the event that systems were someday capable of employing them. He argued “Asimov’s Laws of Robotics have been a very successful literary device. Perhaps ironically, or perhaps because it was artistically appropriate, the sum of Asimov’s stories disprove the contention that he began with: It is not possible to reliably constrain the behaviour of robots by devising and applying a set of rules.”[51] On the other hand, Asimov’s later novels The Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire and Foundation and Earth imply that the robots inflicted their worst long-term harm by obeying the Three Laws perfectly well, thereby depriving humanity of inventive or risk-taking behaviour.

In March 2007 the South Korean government announced that later in the year it would issue a “Robot Ethics Charter” setting standards for both users and manufacturers. According to Park Hye-Young of the Ministry of Information and Communication the Charter may reflect Asimov’s Three Laws, attempting to set ground rules for the future development of robotics.[52]

The futurist Hans Moravec (a prominent figure in the transhumanist movement) proposed that the Laws of Robotics should be adapted to “corporate intelligences” the corporations driven by AI and robotic manufacturing power which Moravec believes will arise in the near future.[47] In contrast, the David Brin novel Foundation’s Triumph (1999) suggests that the Three Laws may decay into obsolescence: Robots use the Zeroth Law to rationalize away the First Law and robots hide themselves from human beings so that the Second Law never comes into play. Brin even portrays R. Daneel Olivaw worrying that, should robots continue to reproduce themselves, the Three Laws would become an evolutionary handicap and natural selection would sweep the Laws away Asimov’s careful foundation undone by evolutionary computation. Although the robots would not be evolving through design instead of mutation because the robots would have to follow the Three Laws while designing and the prevalence of the laws would be ensured,[53] design flaws or construction errors could functionally take the place of biological mutation.

In the July/August 2009 issue of IEEE Intelligent Systems, Robin Murphy (Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M) and David D. Woods (director of the Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory at Ohio State) proposed “The Three Laws of Responsible Robotics” as a way to stimulate discussion about the role of responsibility and authority when designing not only a single robotic platform but the larger system in which the platform operates. The laws are as follows:

Woods said, “Our laws are little more realistic, and therefore a little more boring and that “The philosophy has been, sure, people make mistakes, but robots will be better a perfect version of ourselves. We wanted to write three new laws to get people thinking about the human-robot relationship in more realistic, grounded ways.”[54]

In October 2013, Alan Winfield suggested at an EUCog meeting[55] a revised 5 laws that had been published, with commentary, by the EPSRC/AHRC working group in 2010.:[56]

Asimov himself believed that his Three Laws became the basis for a new view of robots which moved beyond the “Frankenstein complex”.[citation needed] His view that robots are more than mechanical monsters eventually spread throughout science fiction.[according to whom?] Stories written by other authors have depicted robots as if they obeyed the Three Laws but tradition dictates that only Asimov could quote the Laws explicitly.[according to whom?] Asimov believed the Three Laws helped foster the rise of stories in which robots are “lovable” Star Wars being his favorite example.[57] Where the laws are quoted verbatim, such as in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode “Shgoratchx!”, it is not uncommon for Asimov to be mentioned in the same dialogue as can also be seen in the Aaron Stone pilot where an android states that it functions under Asimov’s Three Laws. However, the 1960s German TV series Raumpatrouille Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion (Space Patrol the Fantastic Adventures of Space Ship Orion) bases episode three titled “Hter des Gesetzes” (“Guardians of the Law”) on Asimov’s Three Laws without mentioning the source.

References to the Three Laws have appeared in popular music (“Robot” from Hawkwind’s 1979 album PXR5), cinema (Repo Man, Aliens, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence), cartoon series (The Simpsons), tabletop roleplaying games (Paranoia) and webcomics (Piled Higher and Deeper and Freefall).

Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet (1956) has a hierarchical command structure which keeps him from harming humans, even when ordered to do so, as such orders cause a conflict and lock-up very much in the manner of Asimov’s robots. Robby is one of the first cinematic depictions of a robot with internal safeguards put in place in this fashion. Asimov was delighted with Robby and noted that Robby appeared to be programmed to follow his Three Laws.

Isaac Asimov’s works have been adapted for cinema several times with varying degrees of critical and commercial success. Some of the more notable attempts have involved his “Robot” stories, including the Three Laws. The film Bicentennial Man (1999) features Robin Williams as the Three Laws robot NDR-114 (the serial number is partially a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s signature numeral). Williams recites the Three Laws to his employers, the Martin family, aided by a holographic projection. However, the Laws were not the central focus of the film which only loosely follows the original story and has the second half introducing a love interest not present in Asimov’s original short story.

Harlan Ellison’s proposed screenplay for I, Robot began by introducing the Three Laws, and issues growing from the Three Laws form a large part of the screenplay’s plot development. This is only natural since Ellison’s screenplay is one inspired by Citizen Kane: a frame story surrounding four of Asimov’s short-story plots and three taken from the book I, Robot itself. Ellison’s adaptations of these four stories are relatively faithful although he magnifies Susan Calvin’s role in two of them. Due to various complications in the Hollywood moviemaking system, to which Ellison’s introduction devotes much invective, his screenplay was never filmed.[58]

In the 1986 movie Aliens, in a scene after the android Bishop accidentally cuts himself during the knife game, he attempts to reassure Ripley by stating that: “It is impossible for me to harm or by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being”.[59] By contrast, in the 1979 movie from the same series, Alien, the human crew of a starship infiltrated by a hostile alien are informed by the android Ash that his instructions are: “Return alien life form, all other priorities rescinded”,[60] illustrating how the laws governing behaviour around human safety can be rescinded by Executive Order.

In the 1987 film RoboCop and its sequels, the partially human main character has been programmed with three “prime directives” that he must obey without question. Even if different in letter and spirit they have some similarities with Asimov’s Three Laws. They are:[61]

These particular laws allow Robocop to harm a human being in order to protect another human, fulfilling his role as would a human law enforcement officer. The classified fourth directive keeps him from arresting any senior OCP officer, effectively putting OCP management above the law.

The plot of the film released in 2004 under the name, I, Robot is “suggested by” Asimov’s robot fiction stories[62]and advertising for the film included a trailer featuring the Three Laws followed by the aphorism, “Rules were made to be broken”. The film opens with a recitation of the Three Laws and explores the implications of the Zeroth Law as a logical extrapolation. The major conflict of the film comes from a computer artificial intelligence, similar to the hivemind world Gaia in the Foundation series, reaching the conclusion that humanity is incapable of taking care of itself.[63]

Philosopher James H. Moor says that if applied thoroughly they would produce unexpected results. He gives the example of a robot roaming the world trying to prevent harm from all humans.[64]

Marc Rotenberg, President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Professor of information privacy law at Georgetown Law, argues that the Laws of Robotics should be expanded to include two new laws:

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Three Laws of Robotics – Wikipedia

Robotics – Wikipedia

Power sourceEdit

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]

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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.

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

RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robotics

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.

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Built-in intelligence, flexibility and high accuracy make Kawasaki’s arc welding robots ideal for a wide range of arc welding applications.

Advanced robotics for the DC

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

Zero Backlash Harmonic Gearing

ake your robot to the next level with FLEXWAVEthe ultimate solution for applications requiring exceptional positioning accuracy, high torque density, reduced weight and minimal footprint.

Industrial Teach Pendant Protection

Pendant Armor The ultimate shock-absorbing bumper for industrial robot teach pendants.

Stubli Tool Changer MPS130

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.

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RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robotics

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 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

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


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