What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a robot?
For many people it is a machine that imitates a human—like the androids in Star Wars, Terminator and Star Trek: The Next Generation. However much these robots capture our imagination, such robots still only inhabit Science Fiction. People still haven't been able to give a robot enough 'common sense' to reliably interact with a dynamic world.
But what exactly is a robot?
As strange as it might seem, there really is no standard definition for a robot. However, there are some essential characteristics that a robot must have and this might help you to decide what is and what is not a robot. It will also help you to decide what features you will need to build into a machine before it can count as a robot.
A robot has these essential characteristics:
So what is a robot?
Well it is a system that contains sensors, control systems, manipulators, power supplies and software all working together to perform a task. Designing, building, programming and testing a robots is a combination of physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, structural engineering, mathematics and computing. In some cases biology, medicine, chemistry might also be involved. A study of robotics means that students are actively engaged with all of these disciplines in a deeply problem-posing problem-solving environment.