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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Introduction to Robotics

The field of robotics is growing leaps and bounds. Given advances in artificial intelligence, robots are no longer restricted to heavy steel arms, soldering cards, and silicon chips. They are becoming more sophisticated, able to respond, and even able to communicate in any world language.

Types of Robots

Personal robotics trends today is on the areas of improving the robot’s ability to carry out social interactions and to sense and move in the real world. While it has proven really difficult to create robots that can move smoothly and that can learn and adapt to unexpected situations in the way humans can, researchers are making progress and many experts believe that robotics research will eventually attain these goals. Recently, Intel set up two working personal robot prototypes. One demonstrated electric field pre-touch built into a robot hand to give the robot the ability to sense, or in essence ‘to feel’, objects before it touches them. The other demonstration featured a robot that can interpret and carry out instructions as generic as “please clean this mess”.

In military and industrial robots, research is continuing in the areas of unmanned vehicles and improving the “vision” of robots. For instance, this year iRobot announced a partnership with Advanced Scientific Concepts (ASC) to apply ASC’s Flash LADAR systems. The Flash LADAR technology uses a large pulse of laser light to provide detailed information about the distance to and size of objects in an entire field of vision. Objects detected through obstacles like partially closed blinds, and multiple flashes of light used to create 3D images of the areas.

Future of robotics technology

Will the field of robotics soon advance to the point they surpass physiology and intelligence? Some futurists are predicting that in the near future, people will own lifelike domestic robots in their homes, helping them with chores and performing other essential duties. In an emergency such as a fire, flood, or tornado, the household robot could even alert sleeping homeowners and carry them out to safety.

In addition to domestic duties, robots will also be programmed to perform labor essential to the economy. Perhaps robots might even become a crime deterrent, or fight wars, or may even battle blazes. The rise of super-intelligent, self-aware, self-replicating robots is most certainly a scary supposition that could lead to the end of the world. Yet an even more sinister scientific scenario looms on the horizon: images and sensory experiences remotely implanted in the cerebral cortex via ultrasound brain wave manipulation.

Robotics from OWI Robot

One has the option of choosing preprogrammed robots that require varying skill levels of assembly from pieces that simply snap together to assembly that necessitates the use of needle-nose pliers, a soldering iron, and something called a nut driver. OWI is a trendy robotic kit company that creates everything from fully assembled robotic arm trainers to sumo robots that wrestle one another. OWI kits focus on instruction of mechanical design, concepts such as sensing and locomotion and typically the time it takes to move from robot construction to application will be less depending on the building skill level chosen. While most cannot be programmed, the OWI Robotic Arm Edge (OWI-535) has an optional interface that allows the user to connect to a personal computer. The user can program a sequence of movements that will be executed upon command.

See our educational robotics for kids

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