On the most basic level, human beings are made up of five major components:
- A body structure
- A muscle system to move the body structure
- A sensory system that receives information about the body and the surrounding environment
- A power source to activate the muscles and sensors
- A brain system that processes sensory information and tells the muscles what to do
Photo courtesy NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA’s Urban Robot, Urbie, features
software-controlled cameras and sensors that allow it to operate
autonomously in many types of terrain. URBIE checks out areas that
would pose potential risks to human investigators.
Of course, we also have some intangible attributes, such as intelligence and morality, but on the sheer physical level, the list above about covers it.
A robot is made up of the very same components. A typical robot has a movable physical structure, a motor of some sort, a sensor system, a power supply and a computer "brain" that controls all of these elements. Essentially, robots are man-made versions of animal life — they are machines that replicate human and animal behavior.
In this article, we’ll explore the basic concept of robotics and find out how robots do what they do.
Joseph Engelberger, a pioneer in industrial robotics, once remarked "I can’t define a robot, but I know one when I see one." If you consider all the different machines people call robots, you can see that it’s nearly impossible to come up with a comprehensive definition. Everybody has a different idea of what constitutes a robot.
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