Robots How science fiction has become science
fact; robot wars, how you can join.
A robot can be defined as a programmable,
self-controlled device consisting of electronic, electrical, or mechanical
units. More generally, it is a machine that functions in place of a living
agent. Robots are especially desirable for certain work functions because,
unlike humans, they never get tired; they can endure physical conditions
that are uncomfortable or even dangerous; they can operate in airless conditions;
they do not get bored by repetition; and they cannot be distracted from
the task at hand.
The concept of robots is a very old
one yet the actual word robot was invented in the 20th century from the
Czechoslovakian word robota or robotnik meaning slave, servant, or forced
labor. Robots don't have to look or act like humans but they do need to
be flexible so they can perform different tasks.
Early industrial robots handled radioactive
material in atomic labs and were called master/slave manipulators. They
were connected together with mechanical linkages and steel cables. Remote
arm manipulators can now be moved by push buttons, switches or joysticks.
Current robots have advanced sensory
systems that process information and appear to function as if they have
brains. Their "brain" is actually a form of computerized artificial intelligence
(AI). AI allows a robot to perceive conditions and decide upon a course
of action based on those conditions.
A robot can include any of the following
effectors - "arms", "legs", "hands",
sensors - parts that act like senses
and can detect objects or things like heat and light and convert the object
information into symbols that computers understand
computer - the brain that contains instructions
called algorithms to control the robot
equipment - this includes tools and
Characteristics that make robots different
from regular machinery are that robots usually function by themselves,
are sensitive to their environment, adapt to variations in the environment
or to errors in prior performance, are task oriented and often have the
ability to try different methods to accomplish a task.
Common industrial robots are generally
heavy rigid devices limited to manufacturing. They operate in precisely
structured environments and perform single highly repetitive tasks under
preprogrammed control. There were an estimated 720,000 industrial robots
Teleoperated robots are used in semi-structured
environments such as undersea and nuclear facilities. They perform non-repetitive
tasks and have limited real-time control.
~270BC an ancient Greek engineer named
Ctesibus made organs and water clocks with movable figures.
1818 - Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein"
which was about a frightening artificial lifeform created by Dr. Frankenstein.
1921 - The term "robot" was first used
in a play called "R.U.R." or "Rossum's Universal Robots" by the Czech writer
Karel Capek. The plot was simple: man makes robot then robot kills man!
1941 - Science fiction writer Isaac
Asimov first used the word "robotics" to describe the technology of robots
and predicted the rise of a powerful robot industry.
1942 - Asimov wrote "Runaround", a story
about robots which contained the "Three Laws of Robotics":
A robot may not injure a human, or,
through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders it by human
beings except where such orders would conflic with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence
as long as such protection does not conflict withe the First or Second
1948 - "Cybernetics", an influence on
artificial intelligence research was published by Norbert Wiener
1956 - George Devol and Joseph Engelberger
formed the world's first robot company.
1959 - Computer-assisted manufacturingg
was demonstrated at the Servomechanisms Lab at MIT.
1961 - The first industrial robot was
online in a General Motors automobile factory in New Jersey. It was called
1963 - The first artificial robotic
arm to be controlled by a computer was designed. The Rancho Arm was designed
as a tool for the handicapped and it's six joints gave it the flexibility
of a human arm.
1965 - DENDRAL was the first expert
system or program designed to execute the accumulated knowledge of subject
1968 - The octopus-like Tentacle Arm
was developed by Marvin Minsky.
1969 - The Stanford Arm was the first
electrically powered, computer-controlled robot arm.
1970 - Shakey was introduced as the
first mobile robot controlled by artificial intellence. It was produced
by SRI International.
1974 - A robotic arm (the Silver Arm)
that performed small-parts assembly using feedback from touch and pressure
sensors was designed.
1979 - The Standford Cart crossed a
chair-filled room without human assistance. The cart had a tv camera mounted
on a rail which took pictures from multiple angles and relayed them to
a computer. The computer analyzed the distance between the cart and the
and Robots Professional/amateur robotic sites
- Ordering robot kits, parts and general electronic supplies, places to
compete with robots, robot demos and robotic inventions in action, robotic
James McLurkin Robot
Ants James McLurkin invented microrobots
that work together as a community.
Daniel DiLorenzo Daniel
DiLorenzo Daniel DiLorenzo invented neuroelectric
systems. DiLorenzo designed, built and micro surgically implanted neuroelectric
interfaces that provided patients with the sensory feedback otherwise lacking
in paralyzed or even prosthetic limbs - interview with the inventor.