Unimate, the first robot produced by Unimation, was put into service at General Motors in 1962. The development of robots has been ongoing for more than fifty years. A significant amount of progress has been made in robot technology during this time.
The original purpose of robots was to carry out dirty, tedious, and dangerous jobs. Today, robotics technology has been applied to a broader range of fields. The Google AI program "AlphaGo," created by DeepMind, defeated the world Go champion Li Shishi by 4: 1 in March 2016. As a result, artificial intelligence caught the attention of many. In August 2020, Herron Systems' artificial intelligence defeated the American ace Air Force pilot by 5:0 in the "AlphaGo Fighting" live simulation flight competition hosted by the United States Department of Defense. People were able to witness the power of machine learning fighters.
Word origin of the term "robot"
The term robot originated from science fiction novels. The Czechoslovakian writer Karel Capek introduced the term "robot" in his 1920 science fiction novel "Rosam's Robot Universal Company," based on the Czech word Robota (labor) and the Polish word Robotnik (worker).
Three laws of robotics
The science fiction author Isaac Asimov presented the "Three Laws of Robotics" for the first time in his 1942 movie, "I, Robot." 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 it 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
What are robots?
Robots are machines that carry out tasks automatically. They are capable of accepting human commands and running prearranged programs. It can also be programmed to follow the principles and programs formulated by artificial intelligence technology to assist or replace human work. Robots are machines that are designed to operate independently and achieve various functions.
Robots are automated machines. It differs from other machines in that it is fitted with intelligence similar to humans or organisms, such as perception and planning abilities, as well as movement and collaboration abilities with high levels of flexibility.
What can robots do in the future?
Robots are the result of history. As society develops, the concept of robots is constantly changing. Robots were previously categorized as machines with three main elements: sensors, control systems, and drives. As a result of the advancement of digitalization, the enrichment of network platforms, such as cloud computing, and the advancement of artificial intelligence, some robots can be controlled by independent intelligent systems to access a variety of objects or humans even if they do not have a driving system.
As the Internet of Things evolves, robots will be able to be used in a multitude of situations only through intelligent control systems. Thus, the next generation of robots will have a broader range of capabilities, changing the definition of a robot. In addition, we will robotize objects that did not previously qualify as robots. Autonomous cars, smart appliances and smartphones are also on the verge of becoming robots.
What technologies are involved in robots?
Robotics involves technologies from many disciplines, including mechanics, electronics, computer science, cybernetics, biology, anthropology, and sociology. Activities such as walking up and down stairs, picking up and placing objects are simple for humans, but not for robots. Advancements in key technologies, such as perception, planning, and control, will be crucial.
Robot technologies vary from different applications.
Robots in the manufacturing industry
- The capability of robots to learn and adapt, especially in an unstructured environment. Robots learn incrementally or continuously to monitor humans so they can learn to perform tasks, adjust parameters to maximize performance, adapt to changing environments, and be flexible in a manufacturing environment.
- Modeling, analysis, simulation and control technology to realize the simulation and control of manufacturing.
- Control and planning technology. Future robots will need to handle systems with more significant uncertainty, which requires more advanced control and planning algorithms, wider redundancy, and better freedom than current systems.
- Perception technology. A robot must utilize high-fidelity sensors and/or operations in order to reduce uncertainty. A better haptic experience, more sensitive force sensors, and better imaging methods are essential. Among the challenges are non-invasive biosensors and models that can communicate human behaviors and emotions.
- New mechanical devices and braking devices to improve the robot's accuracy, repeatability, resolution, safety, and other mechanical performance.
- Human-computer interaction. It is essential to leverage natural language, gestures, vision, and tactile technology for human and robot interaction. Besides that, cloud robot technologies such as big data technology and network technology are also critical.
Robots in the healthcare industry
Medical robots concentrate more on understanding human status and behavior, predicting user body data, having high degrees of dexterity during surgery, integrating sensor technology, and ensuring that the robot behaves safely.
Robots in the service industry
In service robots, the focus is on operating in the human environment and learning new skills.
Robots in the space industry
Space robots place more emphasis on developing autonomous technology.