An example of interdisciplinary science which has brought together several branches of science and engineering is Robotics. It can be defined as a branch of engineering which has emerged out of amalgamation of mechanical, electrical engineering and computer science. In other words, it is the branch in which one deals with the design, operation and construction of robots . The robots are overall handled and operated by means of computer systems, which in turn needs intensive sensory information to be fed and programming to deal with such robots. Robots, as most of us imagine is something which tries to mimic the human behavior and can perform every simple and complex task which we are capable of doing. In recent times the branch of robotics has been growing immensely with its demand and scope too growing exponentially.
The first digital robot was ‘Unimate’ which was deployed in 1961 to help in lifting hot metal pieces and stack the same. Similar industrial robots have been then released and used to perform complex tasks at a much faster rate and efficiently at the same time. The research in robotics is promising enough with respect to its scope. Most of the research is around the usage of robotics in various aspects of life ranging from industries to personal use. Robots have evolved to act as a friend to humans in helping them to perform the daily chores as well. As a whole, robots are programmed as per the intended usage. Many programming languages are being employed to make sure the robots act the way they are built. Off late, many open source robotics projects have also pitched in demanding more research avenues in the same.
As far as the education is concerned, branch of robotics have grown in the field of education. Many colleges and universities have started offering robotics either as part of their existing curricula or as a separate specialization courses through different modes. Over the period of time, the branch has emerged as one of the exciting inter-disciplinary field and many aspirants have been found benefited from the same due to its ever increasing demand in the market.
As mentioned, robotics has been used extensively; here are few important usages of robots:
- Automobile industries: Robots are used in the production line in the automobile industries to speed up the process efficiently.
- Healthcare: In last few years, robots have found a place in the medical sector as well to perform complex surgeries with the aid of human assistance. Many critical operations have been reported to be performed by means of semi-automated robots which were either programmatically controlled or being present physically and remotely.
- Packaging industry: The packaging industry is another example wherein robots have been of immense help. Automating the entire process of packaging by robots has proved cost effective as well.
- Electronics industry: Robots have also helped in manufacturing many PCB circuits and many other complex circuits with minimum human intervention. All these activities are programmatically controlled.
- Personal: Robots have not left any stone unturned including our personal lives as well. Many robots have been released in the market to help us in our daily chores thereby saving our time and efforts.
Apart from the above applications, there are other uses which can be amusing as well. Here are some examples of the same:
- Cubinator: This is a robot which holds a Guinness book of world record of solving the Rubik’s cube in shortest possible time. The designer of this robot had programmed this robot with an algorithm which can identify the colours and accordingly come up with few moves to solve the puzzle.
- Mint: An interesting example of mini version of vacuum cleaner is Mint. This robot creates a map of the area using the inbuilt GPS system and does the mopping and sweeping of the area.
- Snackbot: Developed by Carnegie Mellon University, this robot can move through the congested area in the office and also identify people if any come in contact.
- EMILY: The Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard can date us back to Baywatch seasons. This can serve as a lifesaver in terms of crisis. It has already rescued approximately 77,192 people so far. It is controlled by means of remote but the advanced version of the same is expected sometime soon in the coming years.
- Neil and Iona: Considered as elderly working robots, they can change expressions and body language and thereby create some strange endearing sounds.
- RockHopperCam: A robot designed to act as a spy in penguin colonies. Equipped with gyroscopes, high definition cameras and accelerometers and many advanced devices, it is used to collect information from the area where penguin resides.
- Swine Flu Robot: The humanoid robot is developed to simulate with extreme realistic approach. It can cry, sweat and at the end can die as well.
- Da Vinci: It is a medical robot which can cut wide open and perform the complex surgery with the surgeons operating the same remotely. The USP of this robot is its minimal movement of its arms which help to perform surgery efficiently. Till date, it has performed approximately 200,000 surgeries.
- Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs): In an ongoing research program, the US air force has been developing drone size robots which are programmed to perform duties towards common goal. They would coordinate with one another in a battlefield with good amount of surveillance and if needed may cause unexpected death. Sounds like tiny death machines. Isn’t it?
- Fits.me: What if you step into a shop and instead you trying clothes, you have a robot trying out clothes for you? Fits.me is meant for the same. It can be considered as a mannequin who can mould itself into body of any shape and based on the user fed measurements can try out new clothes via internet. Interesting!
Slowly and swiftly robotics are shaping the future and it would be interesting to witness the same, but just making sure we don’t overuse the same.