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The world of computers in general, and robotics in particular has changed dramatically over the course of time. Computers have changed from the size of an entire room to do simple tasks to the same functionality from a handheld device. The same can be said of robots and the field of study known as robotics.

When we think about robots we probably think of the robot from the old 1960's television show Lost in Space or R2D2 from the Star Wars movie series. These machines had mobility as well as the ability to communicate with others. Over the course of time robots have improved to the point where they are able to walk, talk, communicate and even perform feats such as flying or having the ability to perform functions the same as humans. Robots have become helpful in the fields of medicine, surveillance and the manufacturing industry.

  • Robotics Information - educational information on the use and study of robotics.
  • Robotics Research Lab - overview of the programs at the University of Southern California dealing with the study of robotics.
  • Columbia Robotics Group - research and information on the latest projects in the field of robotics conducted at Columbia University.

History of Robots

Robots have been used by writers for many centuries. Writers such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a created man out of other's body parts, who was given life with a jolt of electricity. This may make the Frankenstein monster the first man-made or robotic creature. The first writer to actually use the term robotics was science fiction writer Isaac Asimov who used the term in 1941. Asimov was fascinated by robots and the field of robotics and many of his works revolved around robots in the world.

Robots continue to evolve with the advent of artificial intelligence and the advances to make robots act and react as if they were humans. Additional inventions were made including mechanical arms that could act as if it were a human arm. Plus, robots began to be utilized in the manufacturing industry to help in building products. The use of robotics helped by standardizing and speeding up the manufacturing process. By using robotics, the companies were able to produce products faster and less expensively.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI, is the programming that is done to a robot that allows the machine to act and react on its own. By utilizing AI, computers can be programmed to react certain ways in certain situations. In simple terms, the computers are given various situations which can occur and is given solutions on how to react when faced with the situations. With the programming needed with Artificial Intelligence, the robots are programmed to react appropriately in every given situation.

Robotic Applications

With the use of Artificial Intelligence, and with the mobility that they can have, robots can be used in a wide range of situations. Robots have been used in the manufacturing industry as a way to build items. Because of the perfection that is accomplished with robots, the finished products can be done quickly, accurately and cheaper. Also, robotic arms have been included in the field of medicine because of the accuracy during medical procedures. Robots have also been used in space exploration. Robots have been sent to other planets to help understand what is happening on the planets.

Through the use of AI, robots have been able to accomplish a good deal. Mechanical arms have provided army's of people the ability to control the smallest of details. The use of the computer has allowed robots to be become more advanced. With continued use of AI, robots will continue to be more useful in the future. Robots will continue to improve the AI, mobility and communication ability.

While the field of robotics today may not conjure images of The Jetsons or the droids from Star Wars, the developments have been tremendous. Robots are now able to do a host of tasks that used to only be accomplished by humans. With the continued improvements in mobility, communication and artificial intelligence, it is certain that the future will shaped by robots. While we may not have a robot maid, the use of robotics will be a part of our lives.

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