- Materials & Industrial Technology
Robots and Robotics
Robots and robotic devices have been the subject of science fiction for decades and in fact the first plans for building a mechanical man were drawn up by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1495. But as time progresses science fiction is becoming a reality. Throughout many industries today robotics are used to perform tasks and have elevated the standard of living for humanity. This article will list some of the most astonishing robots and their uses.
Military robots have been around for a long time. Granted in the early days of robotic use in warfare robots used were crude and were hardly what we would think of as robots today. During world War II the Germans used remote controlled mini tank-like vehicles that would carry explosives into enemy territory and then detonate, the Russians also used full size remote control tanks. Since that point there have been automatic machine gun turrets, drones, automated tanks with a variety of weapons. Some robots like Bigdog are made to support loads and remain stable carrying them across uneven terrain. Many of these new weapons contain tracking technology, infrared and other types of sensors and are very accurate. A new generation of robots is also being developed to take of tasks like scaling cliffs, walking, swimming and more, some of these will take on forms closer to that of a human being.
Autonomous cars that are capable of driving on the road without a driver have been in development for many years and are now becoming a reality. They use a combination of radar, GPS, computer vision and eventually artificial intelligence to maneuver the highways. Although these vehicles are in early stages it is believed that within the next few decades these cars may outnumber vehicles driven by people.
Robots That Mimic Human Beings
Kismet a robot created at MIT was created to mimic and understand human emotion and expression. It has the ability to detect vocal and facial expressions and programmed to react accordingly. While it may seem like a toy furby the Kismet robot is a lot more complex in detail and detection. It was constructed with the understanding that one day robots may need to understand, especially in a situation of caring for humans, what others are feeling. This would include such things as emotional vocalization, facial expression, etc. With Kismets social intellect on the rise it is only a matter of time before this program is combined with others to create the ultimate robot.
With the aging population in most western countries many robots are being constructed for the sole purpose of caring for people. These robots will also take on a more human form and will need to be very user friendly.
In industry robotics have been used for many years. Assembly lines for putting cars together will have many robotic arms that build, weld, apply bolts and other types of construction the the chasis of the vehicle.
Yet another example of a robot helping people is Keepon, a small robot that dances to music. Besides making one smile it is also used as a tool by doctors to keep the attention of children with down syndrome.