Introduction to Robotics


Robots have a history which began as a speculative idea dating back to the industrial revolution where machines could be seen as being able to perform tasks previously performed by people, tasks which were beyond the power and strength of people or animals, machines could be seen as having a life of their own.

The increasing complexity and range of tasks which machines could perform gave birth to the idea that machines could " Pick up their beds and walk out of the factory" entering into our daily lives and helping us in many unpleasant and dreary tasks, thus developed the idea of a "machine person", that is a machine made by people ( or other machines ) but just like people in the types of task they could perform and in the senses they possessed ( sight, touch, hearing and speech ) and in the range of intelligence displayed.

The machine person as ROBOT made its debut in 1923 in a play Karel Capek, the word Robot deriving from the Czech word meaning worker or servant. The fictional concept of Robots was epitomised by Isaac Asimov in his book I Robot from which the famous 3 Laws of Robotics came. The problem with fictional concepts of Robots is that they tend to assume an anthropomorphic or human like form to the Robot.

Our present day ideas about Robots emerged from the development of complex machines and the beginnings of automation, but Robot machines are in turn are having a significant impact on automation. The true Robot machine is not necessarily wedded to a particular task. If it is constructed with a physical processing ability over a wide range of tasks and the associated information processing system can understand and instruct the machine for the range, then the Robot machine acquires a new identity over and above previous automated machines.


For the purposes of this unit a Robot can be defined as:
A reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools or specialised devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.