Robotics: Rise of the Machines
If you are a fan of sci-fi movies, then robots must be something you are fascinated by. I have always been a fan of fictional characters like Bumblebee, Wall E, Atom, and Baymax. Although they are an exaggerated version of real bots, they appeal to the kid in me.
‘Rise of the machines’. What made me curious about these lines is how they can symbolize two futures. A future along with robots with immense opportunities or an apocalypse where super-intelligent robots take over the world. Robot uprisings have always been the talk of the town for decades. But is it something to be worried about?
Yes, but not for a long time. Without the necessary precautions, super robot uprisings are something to be worried about, but with our technologies now, it is not something that’s going to happen in a long time.
Asimov’s Law of Robotics
The history of robotics takes us back to World War I. In the 1910s remote-controlled weapons were used. An electrical boat devised by Nikola Tesla was used in World War I. It could be controlled by radio. The term robot was ‘coined’ from the Czech word ‘Robota’ and it was first used by the Czech writer Karel Capek in 1921.
In the 1940’s Isaac Asimov, a biochemistry professor and an American writer formulated the three laws of robotics. The three laws are:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
- A robot must obey the orders given by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws
Although laws were created, to protect humans from robots, The robots and machines we have now are far different from Asimov’s stories. So, we need to make sure if the robot needs a certain level of complexity to follow Asimov’s laws. Like a vacuum cleaner, a bot that only carries out one task doesn’t need to follow these laws, as it doesn’t say anything about how to be a robot.
What Makes a Robot, a Robot?
A misconception regarding robots and machines is, that all machines are robots. The truth is that all robots are machines but, all machines are not robots. Confused? Let me make it clear.
A machine is a mechanical structure that uses power to perform certain tasks. A robot is a machine that also uses power to perform tasks. But rather than just performing a task, robots can do much more. They can see objects move through obstacles, cook, assist you and so much more.
What makes a robot, a robot? Before I explain that, let’s talk about what robotics is.
Robotics is defined as an intersection of engineering, technology, and science dedicated to designing, building, and use of robots. Robots, as the name suggests, are man-made computerized machines that perform a task on human command or themselves using its programming. They make the work easier for humans.
Robots are integrated systems composed of sensors, manipulators, control systems, power supply, and software that work co-dependently to perform a task. Now coming back to the question, What makes a robot, a robot? There are certain characteristics to call a machine, a robot, they are:
One of the important features of a robot is its ability to sense the environment. The sensory ‘abilities’ of robots are not that different from humans. They are engineered to have a light sensor that performs the function of the eyes, a touch and pressure sensor that performs the function of the hand, a chemical sensor that performs the function of the nose and hearing, a Sonar sensor that performs the function of ears and last, taste sensor which performs the function of the tongue. All of these sensors work together to enable a robot to be aware of its surroundings.
The other characteristic that makes a machine a robot is its ability to move from one location to another or move one of its parts like a Canadian arm, to carry out the movement of products. This can be carried out using rolling wheels, walking legs, or propelling on thrusters.
A power source is essential for a robot to carry out tasks. A robot can get its energy from electrical charging, solar charging, or battery charging ‘depending’ on the ‘task’ to be performed by the robot.
Intelligence is an important characteristic of a robot. Intelligence gives a robot an edge to carry out tasks. A robot gets its intelligence from programming. Generating programs for their efficient working is essential, helps a robot learn from previous experiences and helps them make decisions based on that.
How Robotics Is Changing the Face of The Earth?
From industrial to humanoid, Robots are changing the face of the earth. Even the primary aim of creating a robot was to help humans to accomplish tasks with maximum ease. There are a plethora of applications in robotics. Today we will be talking about the top six fields where robotics has shown its prominence.
From performing surgeries to finding a new cure, robots have clearly shown their presence in medicine. Robots have been widely used to assist patients, neurosurgeries, lab automation, medical device packing, building robotic prosthetic arms, etc. They also can be used to analyze a patient’s data and medical records to pre-determine if they have any chronic illnesses or not.
The military is another field that widely uses robotics. Robots can be used in the military to move injured people, diffuse bombs, identify mines and provide medical support to injured people. They also can be used to manufacture bombs and grenades as they may expose a human to be in danger. Robots are also ideal for going into buildings with a possibility of a bomb.
Agriculture-oriented robots automate any repetitive tasks to make it easier for farmers making it easier for farmers to improve the overall production of the yields. The most common robots used in agriculture are for harvesting, picking, and weed control.
Construction robots are miracle products that will make ‘major’ impacts on the construction field. These types of robots can be used for bricklaying, masonry, material handling, and welding. These robots will exponentially increase the speed and quality of construction.
Robots are widely used in industries to manufacture and produce products. They are perfect to accomplish repetitive tasks as they are wired to do the same thing again and again with no exhaustion. Using robots can also increase the production speed and quality of the products.
- Hotel Management
Hotel management is another field where robotics has shown its presence. Cooking and cleaning bots are widely used in hotel businesses. Implementation of robotics in the hotel businesses has significantly improved the quality of food and reduced the manpower needed.
From RoboBee to Vindskip
Robotics has always been a topic that has created curiosity in minds. When hearing the word ‘robot’ we all expect a human-looking figurine that can perform a lot of intelligent tasks. But in reality, from the 0.2-millimeter long RoboBee to the 200-meter long Vindskip, robots come in all sizes and shapes. Based on the tasks they are assigned to do, robots are classified into different types. They are :
- Preprogrammed Robots
The Preprogrammed Robots Operate in an enclosed environment where they have to perform simple and monotonous tasks. These types of robots are perfect to execute repetitive tasks more fastly and efficiently. An example of Preprogrammed Robots is mechanical arms in an automotive assembly line. They are only able to perform one task like welding, drilling, painting, etc.
2. Humanoid Robots
A humanoid robot is the type of robot that looks like and imitates human behavior. They are capable of doing activities like running, jumping, and even making facial expressions just like us. This is achieved with the help of artificial intelligence. One of the prominent examples of humanoid robots is Sofia by Hanson robotics.
3. Autonomous Robots
Autonomous robots can work without human intervention. They carry out their task in an open environment where human supervision is not required. One example of an autonomous robot is the Roomba vacuum cleaner. It uses its sensors to move around the house.
4. Teleoperated Robots
Teleoperated robots are mechanical robots that work under human supervision. They are usually used in extreme geological weather conditions that are too dangerous, repetitive, and costly for humans to do. They are usually used in space, underwater, in chemical facilities, nuclear plants, and warzones. An example of Teleoperated robots are submarines that are controlled by humans to fix underwater pipe leaks and drones that are used to detect mines in warzones.
5. Augmented Robots
Augmented Robots are used to improve human capabilities or replace capabilities that a person has lost. Some examples of augmented robots are robotic prosthetic arms and exoskeletons.
Robotics is a field that is continuously growing and, there are several opportunities out there. Within a few decades, we will be able to witness an era where robots walk among us and be a part of our lives.
With technologies, there is always more to learn, be a part of us and check out more of my blogs.
Until next time, Adios…