Robot – a machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry. Robots can be autonomous or semi-autonomous. By mimicking a lifelike appearance or automating movements, a robot may seem to be intelligent or have thoughts of its own.
- humanoids – Honda’s Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO), Tosy’s TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot (TOPIO) – resemble humans in appearance, behavior, and/or cognition
- industrial robots – automated machines that can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes
- collectively programmed ‘swarm’ robots
- microscopic nano robots
Robotics – the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.
Robotics is the art and commerce of robots, their design, manufacture, application, and practical use.
- Visualizing the growth of robotics – great series of charts that show the explosive growth
Autonomous robots can perform desired tasks in unstructured environments without continuous human guidance. An autonomous robot may also learn or gain new capabilities like adjusting strategies for accomplishing its task(s) or adapting to changing surroundings. An important area of robotics research is to enable the robot to cope with its environment whether this be on land, underwater, in the air, underground, or in space. A fully autonomous robot has the ability to
- Gain information about the environment (Rule #1)
- Work for an extended period without human intervention (Rule #2)
- Move either all or part of itself throughout its operating environment without human assistance (Rule #3)
- Avoid situations that are harmful to people, property, or itself unless those are part of its design specifications (Rule #4)
Some examples of Robotics research projects
- Walking Assist – operates using “cooperative control technology”. Hip angle sensors detect motion and move accordingly — which improves coordination of legs lifting and moving.
- DARPA’s Pet-Proto Robot navigates obstacles similar to those robots might face in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). To maneuver over and around the obstacles, the robot exercises capabilities including autonomous decision-making, dismounted mobility and dexterity.
- Atlas (video 2:11) – US Military Develops Six-Foot Tall Atlas Humanoid Robot
- Introducing Spot (video 2:15) – Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs.
Dancing robots (video) – Bruno Maisonnier of Aldebaran Robotics choreographs a troupe of tiny humanoid Nao robots through a surprisingly emotive performance. Aldebaran Robotics is the maker of the tiny, compelling humanoid Nao. These robots are surprisingly life-like. A lot of engineering goes into creating a robot that can dance. Having a dozen or so dance together requires a lot of the robots and the design engineer.
- Ask – They show amazing range of motion. Their ability to maintain their balance while shifting their weight and extending a “leg” is impressive. What is required for the robot to maintain its balance? How are its arms controlled?
- Imagine – In addition to human-like arm movements for reaching and grasping, the robots mimic hand movements in their dancing. Life-like movements and gestures add a lot even if they are not required for the robot function. What could replace the legs for movement? Which gestures could be added to the robots movements?
- Plan, Create – What are the important features that make these robots seem so life-like? What makes them “cute”? What are the materials used in the body of the robot? How do the arms and legs move?
- Improve – A lot of work is going into designing and building robots to help people do jobs around the home. Some look like people. Some just do things like vacuuming so they look like moving vacuum cleaners. What other activities could robots do? What could be added or changed to the robots’ appearance?
- actuator – a type of motor that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or system. It is operated by a source of energy, typically electric current, hydraulic fluid pressure, or pneumatic pressure, and converts that energy into motion. An actuator is the mechanism by which a control system acts upon an environment. The control system can be simple (a fixed mechanical or electronic system), software-based (e.g. a printer driver, robot control system), a human, or any other input.
- pneumatics – the study and application of pressurized gas to produce mechanical motion. Pneumatic systems used extensively in industry are commonly powered by compressed air or compressed inert gases. An electrically powered compressor powers cylinders, air motors, and other pneumatic devices controlled through manual or automatic solenoid valves.
- solenoid – a variety of transducer devices that convert energy into linear motion. The term is also often used to refer to a solenoid valve, which is an integrated device containing an electromechanical solenoid which actuates either a pneumatic or hydraulic valve, or a solenoid switch, which is a specific type of relay
- range of motion, balance, activator, sensor, actuator, solenoid valve, electrical, hydraulic, navigate, negotiate
Here are some challenges for you to work on…
- suggest and present some other human actions that these robots could imitate
- vibrating bristle robot.
- check out Really Rocking Robot Roundup
- explore robotic innovations with the potential to help people – elderly, kids with disabilities
- gripper hand (video 2:36) – make a robotic hand that can pick up almost anything with coffee grounds, a latex balloon and a small vacuum pump
- Robotics competitions – opportunities for student robotics teams to complete
- Robot ‘Olympics’ Test Machines On Human Skills – The eight tasks don’t sound Olympian — opening a door, climbing a ladder, turning a valve, driving a vehicle, but they are for robots. If a robot can do these tasks, it could help humans by playing key roles in disaster relief. Instead of feet, one of the robots – CHIMP, moves on tracks that look like tank treads. It does well on tasks involving manipulation — like opening a door — but CHIMP’s not so good on mobility tasks, like driving a vehicle or moving over rough terrain. Climbing a ladder is “certainly not a strength.”
- Creepy – almost human, but not quite – mismatch between expectation and reality. If something looks like a human but doesn’t quite move like one, it’s often considered eerie.
- move in a much more human-like manner with complex motions
- How Robots Will Change the World (video 40:17) – Robotics is the art and commerce of robots, their design, manufacture, application, and practical use. Robots will soon be everywhere, in our home and at work. They will change the way we live. This will raise many philosophical, social, and political questions that will have to be answered.
- Dancing robots – video
- DARPA’s Pet-Proto Robot – video
- DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) – develop ground robots capable of executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. Competitors in the DRC are expected to focus on robots that can use standard tools and equipment commonly available in human environments, ranging from hand tools to vehicles, with an emphasis on adaptability to tools with diverse specifications.
- IEEE Robotics – Great source of news and information about robotics. Weekly updates, video.
- robots.net – personal robotics, frequent updates
- NASA drops mini robots into volcano for science – VolcanoBot 1 was based on NASA’s Durable Reconnaissance and Observation Platform (DROP) and was created at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Measuring 12 in (30cm) long with 6.7 in (17 cm) wheels, it was designed to navigate into the narrow fissures that are a common feature of volcanoes on Earth, Mars, Mercury, and the moons of Enceladus and Europa, and to retrieve data that may provide insights into how these volcanoes formed.
- food delivery robot that’s safe enough, and affordable enough, to operate autonomously in care facilities.
- Tiny Robots Mimic Termites’ Ability to Build without a Leader – Using sensors coupled with a simple set of rules, the robots worked independently to build structures