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Introduction

Robotics is the scientific and engineering discipline concerned with the creation, composition, structure, evaluation, and properties of embodied artificial capabilities.

It does not include naturally occurring capabilities (which would be part of biology) or artificial intelligence without a physical presence (which would be part of computer science).

It includes facets of 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 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.

Selected robot

Razer under strong orange lighting

Razer was a combat robot that competed on the British television series Robot Wars. It was constructed by Simon Scott and Ian Lewis from Bournemouth; the team later expanded to include webmaster Vincent Blood. Razer was designed and constructed in 1998 to participate in the second series of Robot Wars, but subsequent modifications and improvements enabled it to remain competitive until its retirement after the second series of Robot Wars Extreme. Despite gaining a reputation for being unreliable, it was champion of the fifth series of Robot Wars, runner-up in the sixth, and won the first two Robot Wars World Championships.

Razer's weapon was a hydraulic crushing arm which exerted up to nine tonnes of pressure per square inch. The arm was designed to pierce opponents' armour plating and break their internal components, rendering them impaired or immobile. The arm was also an integral element of Razer's winged self-righting mechanism, which rolled the robot back onto its wheels if inverted. The popularity of crushing weaponry in robot combat events is attributed to Razer, which inspired many imitations.

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Anybots robot monty.jpg
Credit: Jeff Keyzer
Monty - a robot from Anybots, tele-operated by a glove.

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MDP control loop en.png

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be defined as the study of methods by which a computer can simulate aspects of human intelligence. One aim of this study is to design a computer that might be able to reason for itself. Another aspect of AI is the ability of the computer to search knowledge in a database for the best possible reply to a question, because this has strong parallels with the way that we solve problems ourselves.

AI divides roughly into two schools of thought: Conventional AI and Computational Intelligence.Conventional AI mostly involves methods now classified as machine learning, characterized by formalism and statistical analysis. This is also known as symbolic AI, logical AI, neat AI and Good Old Fashioned Artificial Intelligence (GOFAI).

News

August 2012

6th

  • Touchdown! 05:32 UTC, though with the delay touchdown was actually at 05:18 UTC
  • 500m, rockets working, 40m altitude, skyframe started...
  • Parachute has opened, on finals, 6.5 km height ...
  • The MSL has separated and has started its entry to Mars. UHF feed is established, and data processed from Odyssey, with 11G entry load. More ...

2nd

  • Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) begins final testing for landing Curiosity on Mars, planned for 5 August. If any trajectory corrections are necessary, these will take place later today. More ...
  • The US Navy announces that one of its MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter UAV's has chased pirates off the Somali coast. The USS Klakring has four of the UAVs onboard, returning the series of helicopters to operational status after a " pause" following some technical issues. More ...
  • A robot that can land the right way up like a cat. The University of Pennsylvania reveal a paper on their self-righting robot. More ...

1st

  • A 13' 9000lb robot which can auto-track targets and shoot them with it's gatling guns or 6 shot launcher when the driver smiles? More ...
  • Willow Garage's Personal Robot 2 (PR2) aims to help people in various home-based tasks and is customisable for specific customers and their needs. There has been previous footage of the robot folding towels which became popular in the internet. More ...
  • The US Navy attempts to teach a robot plane, the X-47B UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System), to take-off and land on an aircraft carrier. More ...


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