Robotics

Engineering Degree Guide: Robotics Resources

 

The word “robot” was first heard by audiences watching Rossum’s Universal Robots, a 1921 play written by Karel Čapek. Robots in Čapek’s play were fully automatic machines which fit more with the modern concept of androids. This term was transformed into “robotics” by Isaac Asimov in his 1941 story Liar!, which focuses on another android-like robot and his moral quandary. Asimov was reportedly unaware that he was coining a new term. Instead, he thought robotics was simply the combination of robot and electronics. In some ways this story set the stage for modern robotics.

Today, robots are used for industrial, research, and entertainment applications. Robotics is also rather complicated, requiring the combined efforts of experts in many different fields. All in all, robotics encompasses the technologies and research used in engineering, electronics, and computer science. Because of this nature, robotics is an important part of any collection of engineering resources. This guide is especially useful for enthusiasts, students, professionals, and researchers looking to understand the nuance of robotics engineering from multiple perspectives.

History

Throughout history, robotics has been an important part of the human imagination. Descriptions of many automated machines like the steam powered engine exist in many ancient texts. Eventually, modern artists and inventors like Leonardo da Vinci imagined and planned out everything from automated peacocks to a mechanical knight. At some point, however, technology reached the right level and robotics became a reality. The modern concept of robotics that started with Asimov’s story has largely progressed within the past century.

  • A Brief History of Robotics spans back to 350 B.C. with ancient Greek mathematicians. Many of the references here are related to pop culture like toy robotics kits.
  • Forbes offers these 25 Great Moments in Robotics History. Most of the entries include pictures of the early engineers or inventions.
  • An Industrial Robot History focuses on robots dedicated to industrial tasks. Many of the models mentioned are explained on a separate page.

Fields within Robotics

The interdisciplinary nature of robotics means that robots and robotic systems can be useful for many different practical applications. There are many opportunities related to robotics that various fields of study have developed. Examples include robotics based on biological systems, artificial limbs, and personal robotics. Many fields are research-based, while others may focus solely on making robots work in the real world.

  • Personal Robotics studied at Cornell University aim to create robots that perform simple human tasks like opening doors and assembling simple objects. As a separate field, personal robotics represents the practical, every-day possibilities posed by robots.
  • Sense and sensor abilities in robotics offer important opportunities for modern and future robots. A robot able to gather data from holding an object, for instance, can make adjustments to make its grip more secure.
  • Industrial robotics have transformed industry since it first became possible to put a robot in a factory. Heavy industry especially has benefited from increased automation due to faster production.

Artificial Intelligence

Certainly one of the most pervasive implications of advancing robotics is the growing presence of artificial intelligence. For almost as long as humans have been imagining robots we have wondered what it would be like if a robot could mimic, match, or exceed our own intellectual capacities. Despite the sometimes fantastic representations of artificial intelligence in movies, books, and other media, many practical applications for the science have received considerable attention. Artificial intelligence will continue to evolve alongside modern robotics.

Past and Current Projects

The field of robotics is defined by related projects. Often these projects will focus on one aspect of robots, such as locomotion, or be aimed at creating comprehensive models that mimic humans. Industrial projects may focus on improving productivity and efficiency with automatic robotic machinery. Military projects might focus on remote-controlled robotic planes or mine-sweeping machines.

  • ASIMO is one of the most advanced robots today that is capable of mimicking human behavior. The site includes news, history, and technical specifications.
  • The robot development process that lead to Honda’s ASIMO examine historic and modern projects in robotics. Each model is complete with pictures and a brief explanation of the function and purpose of each robot model.
  • Technical information about robotics reviews the components and basic necessities of functional robots. Many images and descriptions are aimed at beginners.
  • Robot news from Science Daily offers information about the latest research and projects within robotics. Understanding this field often requires reviewing the latest research and technological advancements.
  • Physorg.com offers robotics news which illuminates the importance of past and current projects. The site also includes a number of interactive features related to robotics.

Robotics and Engineering

Robotics engineering is the study of making robots work in the real world by combing the many constituent sciences. Many of a robot’s basic functions often rely on complex engineering. For instance, one of the major challenges to creating autonomous robots is perfecting their movements through a dynamic environment. This basic human function requires intricate configurations of power, actuation, locomotion, and many other factors that rely on precise engineering.

  • A robotics engineer focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of the field. A section of frequently asked questions illuminates the modern field of robotics engineering.
  • The Princeton Review offers this look into the life of a robotics engineer. Through studying this hypothetical biography, it is easier to see the nature of the field and the work conducted within it.

Organizations and School Departments

Advancements in robotics often result from the work of private, national, and academic research laboratories. Expos across the globe often serve as the jumping point for new research and as a showcase for the most modern aspects of robotics. Various societies concerned with robotics have also followed the growth of this science. All of these organizations show the intense scientific interest in advancing robotics for a variety of purposes.

  • The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University focuses on integrating robotics with various industrial or social tasks. Their website offers a glimpse into the research and news related to robotics.
  • The National Robotics Engineering Center combines academic, government, and industry interests to create state-of-the-art robotics systems. Included are the current projects of the center and other information.
  • The Field Robotics Center seeks to set the stage for robotics research. The site includes present research and professionals working in robotics.
  • The Robotics Alliance Project aims to provide the resources that will enable robotic space exploration. Many videos, presentations, and features inform readers about the latest advances in robotics.
  • The Stanford AI Lab is home to professional researchers involved with artificial intelligence. Their goal is to link data availability advancements with human perception.