Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with the conception, design, manufacture and the operation of robots. Robots are man-made mechanical devices that can move themselves because their motions have been modeled, planned, sensed, actuated and controlled. The programming allows roboticists to influence their behavior. Robots can be termed as “intelligent” when they are able to safely interact with an unstructured environment and performing tasks on their own at the same time.
To a large extent, robotics is system integration and achieving tasks by an actuated mechanical device. The “intelligent” integration of components in the mechanical device helps it to perform its functions autonomously. For a robot to be fully functional, the following components have to be integrated: systems control, computer science, character animation, machine design, computer vision, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, biomechanics. The boundaries of robotics are also not clearly set because of the fact that its “core” ideas, concepts and algorithms are being applied in external applications that are shifting and changing by the day. Core technology from other domains like vision, biology, cognitive science or biomechanics, for example, are becoming crucial components in modern robotic systems.
Components of Robotic Systems
Robotics is in essence an integrated system of control that seeks to interact with the physical world. sensing and actuation are the two ways in which the robot “controller” is able to interact with the environment. Most of the robots have the controller on hardware but advanced robots are fitted with software to house the controller. Different robots are modeled differently. The information stored in a model helps to provide the input and output relationships of all control elements. A model can be presented in many forms, namely analytical formulas, empirical look-up tables, fuzzy rules and neural networks. A system model for instance can be instrumental in tying multiple components together while a sensing model and an actuation model contain information that transforms raw physical data into task-dependent information for the controller, and vice versa. These models are essentially decoders.
In robotics, planning is the activity that predicts the outcomes of possible actions and the best outcome is selected. Regulation on the other hand is the component that processes the outputs of the sensing and planning components. Regulation helps to generate an actuation setpoint.
Isaac Asimov came up with the three laws of robotics. First, he states that a robot may not injure a human being or through its inaction allow a human to be harmed. The second law is that a robot must obey the orders it is given by human being except in the cases where the orders given would go against the first law. The final law is that a robot has to protect its own existence as long as the first and second laws are not conflicted with in the process of self-protection.
The concept of creating machines that work autonomously is a classical idea but thanks to improvement in technology, the machines, such as robots, become more sophisticated. Research has further bolstered the functionality of robots and they are now able to mimic human behaviour and manage tasks better.