If you think robots are the kind of thing you hear about in science-fiction movies, think again. Right now, all over the world, robots are performing thousands of tasks. They are probing our solar system for signs of life, building cars at the General Motors plants, assembling Oreo cookies for Nabisco and defusing bombs for the SWAT team. As they grow tougher, more mobile, and more intelligent, today’s robots are doing more and more of the things that humans can’t or don’t want to do and in many cases taking away the need for human labor.
The invention of transistors and integrated circuits I the nineteen fifties and sixties, made robotics possible. Compact, reliable electronics and a growing computer industry added “intelligence” to the strength of already existing machines. In nineteen fifty-nine, researchers demonstrated the possibility of robotic manufacturing when they showed the world a computer-controlled milling machine that made ashtrays.
By the early nineteen eighties public fascination with robotics began to peak. This interest was spurred in part by movies like Star Wars, which featured robots C3-PO and R2-D2 as helpful sidekicks to human masters. But the infatuation began to wear away as people discovered that robots have a hard time doing things we think are easy–like moving across a messy room.
Today, robotic interest is on the incline. Faster and cheaper computer processors make robots able to perform more complicated actions quicker and at a less expensive price than in the past. Meanwhile, researchers are working on ways to make robots move and "think" even more efficiently. Although most robots in use today are designed for specific tasks, the goal is to make mul...
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...our world an easier and more enjoyable place to live in and we should not take the gift of technology for granted.
Asimov, Isaac. Robots, machines in man’s image. New York: Harmony Books. 1985.
Kelly, Derek A. A layman’s introduction to robotics. Princeton, NJ.: Petrocelli Books. 1986.
Richard, Paul. Robotics research : the first international symposium. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1984.
Husband, T.M. Education and training in robotics. New York.: Springer-Verlag. 1985.
Franklin, Judy A. ed. Recent advances in robot learning. Boston.:Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1996.
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