The definition of a robot has been hazy from the get-go. The word robot first appeared in the 1921 play R.U.R (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Capek. The name originates from the Czech word meaning forced labor. These robots looked a lot like humans and were not made from metal, but chemical batter. These robots in the play were more efficient and murderous as they later went on a rampage and killed humans. A robot is an intelligent machine that can perform tasks without human intervention and sense its environment.
An example is a drone that you can manipulate. It is not a robot until you make the drone capable of taking off and landing on its own or sense objects. The sensors, intelligence, and autonomy define the drone as a robot.
What is a Robot Comprised of?
A human body is made up of five parts:
- Body structure
- The muscle system that moves the structure
- Sensory system for receiving information from the authority and environment
- A power source that activates the sensors and muscles
- A brain that processes all sensory data and commands the muscles
The human body is composed of other intangible features such as intelligence and empathy, but the above are the basics.
A robot is composed of the same essential components. An average robot consists of a movable structure, a motor, a sensor system, a computerized ‘brain’ that controls all these, and a power supply. A robot is essentially a human-made replication of human and animal behavior. A precise definition of a robot by roboticists is a reprogrammable brain that moves a structure.
How a Robot Works
Most robots have several things in common, first of which are a movable body, with some having motorized wheels, while others have individual parts connected by joints. Robots turn wheels and move joints using different actuators, and some robots use solenoids, electric motors, pneumatic or hydraulic systems, and some robots use all the various actuators.
A robot needs to have a power source for driving these actuators, and most robots use electricity or batteries to power up. Hydraulic robots need pumps for pressurizing the hydraulic fluid, while pneumatic robots require an air compressor or air tanks.
The robot’s ‘brain’ or computer controls everything, and switches on all the valves and motors needed to move the robot. The robot is reprogrammable, and you can change the robot’s actions by writing a new program.
What are Robots Good For?
A mobile robot helps humans in several ways. Scientists use some for exploring outer space or hostile places on earth and the collection of earth samples. The army uses others for seeking out deadly landmines in battlefields, while the police use robots to apprehend suspects or search for bombs or weapons.
Hospitals also make use of robots for transporting medication, heavy equipment, or lift heavy patients. They also help in performing complex surgeries that need high precision. Museums use robots to patrol the galleries or monitor humidity levels and air quality to protect valuable paintings from ruin. Robots are useful in eldercare homes and helping the elderly to go about their daily chores. The robots can also provide companionship for the elderly who have no one to talk to.
The most common robots are industrial and research, which have made significant advancements over the past decade. However, professionals are building robots, and for several years, some hobbyists have been creating robots in home basements and garages. Homebrew robotics is gaining traction and has a significant presence on the web. Amateur homebrew roboticists make robots using mail-order parts, commercial robotic kits, old VCRs, toys, and literally, anything they can use.
In another decade, robots will be more advanced than they are today. Robots in homes, hospitals, and businesses will be commonplace. Robots are a replication of the human and animal body and mind. However, many robots advance; the only thing they cannot do is have empathy like human beings. The fact that robots will be indispensable in the future is undeniable, but they can never replace humans.