Robotics is a branch of technology which brings together several different areas of engineering skills such as electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence and bioengineering. The term “Robotics” refers to the study and use of robots. This technology deals with programmable mechanical device which can perform tasks without the help of human interaction. Robotics is the use of computer to model and replicate intelligent behaviour.
The word “robotics” was first used by a famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1941in Run around, a short story published in 1942. Asimov also proposed the three laws of robotics and later on he added the zeroth law.
Law Zero: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
Law One: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Law Two: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Law Three: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
This is the working definition of the robot that developers have used. The first industrial modern robot was Unimates developed by George Devol and Joe Engelberger in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Engelberger formed Unimation and was the first to market robots so he was called the ‘father of robotics.’ In the early to mid 80’s the robot industry grew very fast primarily due to very fast investments by the automobile industry.
There are few essential deciding factors that help in determining whether a given machine can be categorized as a robot or not.
1. Sensing: The basic ability of the robot is to sense the environment or surrounding & the different types of sensor that are present in robot are light sensor which function as eyes in human, chemical sensors to perform the functions which are done by nose, touch and pressure sensors to act like hands, hearing and sonar sensors to act like ears and taste sensors to act like tongue in human beings.
2. Movement: Robots must be able to move around its surroundings. This can be done in different ways like there can be rolling on wheels propelling by thrusters. If the entire robot moves, it is like the Sojourner or if only some just parts of the robot moves, it is like the Canada Arm.
3. Energy: It is necessary to have an adequate source of energy so that robot is able to power itself on its own. There may be different sources like electrically powered, battery powered or solar powered robots and the means of energy is selected in accordance with the functions which the robot needs to perform.
4. Intelligence: This is the area where programming enters into the scene. Smartness is awarded to a robot by the programmer. A programmer is a person whose job is to provide robot its smartness. The robot receives the program so that it knows what to do and how to do.
Today technology is changing at an incredible rate making the identification of a robot somewhat different. Technology that we use every day incorporate feature beyond those of early robots. Today’s robots are incorporating multiple sensors and are able to use this information to behave autonomously — making decisions for themselves based on information that they receive. Some robots are used day after day in factories while some are highly experimental and use artificial intelligence to behave more and more like living creatures and able to act independently in changing environments. Robots are being designed to perform precision surgery, explore space, the ocean, other dangerous areas.
1. Surgeons and medical engineers have been trying to create machines that can assist in surgery, increase a surgeon’s dexterity and support hospital staff. These aren’t humanoid robots but computer controlled systems that have been optimized for use in sensitive situations.
In 1988, Brian Davies, a medical robotics professor at the Imperial College in London, designed a robot that could remove soft tissue from a person
The da Vinci robot is a surgical system that was first sold in 2000 by Intuitive Surgical for use in cardiac surgery and treatment of prostate cancer. An active robot designed in 2001, the Bloodbot is tasked with taking blood samples from an area in the crease of the arm.
2. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe. Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation due to lower cost and lower risk factors.
Taking picture of remote areas, Luna 3 was a Soviet spacecraft launched in 1959 as part of the Luna program. It was the first-ever mission to photograph the far side of the Moon.
Some robots were designed to be serviced in orbit as the Canadian-built Dextre, a two-armed robot capable of repairing defunct orbiting satellites. There are numerous robotic discovery to come in near future.
3. 70% of our earth surface is covered with water bodies mostly comprises with ocean that remain unexplored by humans. But in recent decades, technology has begun to give humans a glimpse of the deep sea landscape through the help of Submarines. Today scientists have access to wider range of technologies which uses Robots for this job.
Human occupied vehicles (HOVs) are built to withstand the extreme pressures of the deep ocean and are equipped with robotic arms that scoop up marine creatures as well as sea-floor sediments.
Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are robots tethered to the ship and scientists on the ship manipulate them through a long cable that connects the robot to the ship. ROVs can reach great depths and stay there for extended periods.
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are robots programmed to collect data from particular parts of the deep ocean. While they’re off collecting data, scientists conduct other research on board the ship. Hybrid vehicles combine the best features of ROVs and AUVs.
4. War zone is a place where we have to loose hundreds and thousand lives of our brave soldiers. If robots are placed instead of human then there will be more advantage than disadvantage. Human life is most precious so saving it is the prime advantage if advanced humanoid robots are introduced in war field. Humanoid robots are easier to train compared to human soldiers is another big advantage. Teamwork is easily build between humans and humanoids rather than among humans and there are other numerous advantages of using robots.
The use of robots in warfare, although traditionally a topic for science fiction, is being researched as a possible future means of fighting wars.
5. Last but not the least is the autopilot system that was introduced by Artificial Intelligence. Robotic vehicle can drive from one point to another without any human assistance. The vehicle performs all safety-critical functions for the entire trip, with the driver not expected to control the vehicle at any time. As this vehicle would control all functions from start to stop, including all parking functions, it could include unoccupied cars.
According to AI researchers, ability to create robots and intelligent software is still very primitive in many ways. Robotics is almost literally in its infancy: the hardware is just learning to walk properly and use fine motor control, while the software is finally starting to read at the level of an elementary-school student.
There’s a long way to go before machines can meet and exceed human capability. Still, progress is deceptively quick, so we can hope that in our lifetime, we’ll continue being surprised by the leaps and bounds that machines make. The future of robotics is going to be interesting with passing time.