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Robots of today “Robot” Etymology The word " Robot " comes from the 1921 play "R.U.R." (Rossum's Universal Robots) by the Czech writer Karel Capek (pronounced "chop'ek").  "Robot" comes from the Czech word "robota", meaning "forced labor."

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Robots of today

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Robots of today

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“Robot” Etymology

  • The word "Robot" comes from the 1921 play "R.U.R." (Rossum's Universal Robots) by the Czech writer Karel Capek (pronounced "chop'ek").  "Robot" comes from the Czech word "robota", meaning "forced labor."

  • The word "robotics" also comes from science fiction - it first appeared in the short story "Runaround" (1942) by Isaac Asimov.

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Robots and Ethics

  • Isaac Asimov’s

    1983 novel “I Robot”

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Robots and Ethics

  • The robot stories of Isaac Asimov introduced the "three laws of robotics." Later, he added the "zeroth" law.

  • * Law Zero:         A robot may not injure humanity, or, though inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. * Law One:         A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, unless this would violate a higher order law. * Law Two:         A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would confict with a higher order law. * Law Three:         A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with a higher order law.

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Robots and Ethics

  • Steven Spielberg’s “Artificial Intelligence”

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Robots and Ethics

  • 1999 movie “Bicentennial Man” based upon Isaac Asimov’s short story of the same name

One robot's 200 year journey to become an ordinary man.

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In the beginning…

  • Robots were designed to be a replacement for repetitive, labor oriented tasks

  • Humans are slow, imprecise, prone to injury and have physical and emotional limitations

  • Machines are fast, precise, durable and their limitations make them ideally suited to repetitive/dangerous tasks

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Industrial Robots

  • The first modern industrial robots were probably the "Unimates", created by George Devol and Joe Engleberger in the 1950's and 60's.  Engleberger started the first robotics company, called "Unimation",

    and has been called the

    "father of robotics."

    Isaac Asimov and Joe Engleberger →

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Industrial Robots

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Medical Robots

  • A human would not be able to make a hole exactly one 100th of a inch wide and long. 

  • When making medicines, robots can do the job much faster and more accurately than a human can. 

  • Also, a robot can be more delicate than a human.

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Medical Robots

  • This bionic arm can do things like picking up fragile items such as a glass, just by the wearer just thinking about it. The arm is connected directly to the brain, so a person can use it like any other appendage.

  • Electrodes intercept the limb's residual nerve firings and feed them to a computer embedded in the forearm, which then commands six motors to move the device's shoulder, elbow and hand in unison. Thanks to hand sensors, the wearer can even gauge pressure and fine-tune his grip.

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Medical Robots

  • NECAL uses nerve-muscle grafts in amputees to gain added control signals for an artificial arm.

  • Doctors take nerves that used to go to the arm and move those nerves onto chest muscles.

  • The nerves grow into the chest muscles, so when the patient thinks "close hand," a portion of his chest muscle contracts and electrodes that detect this muscle activity tell the computerized arm when to close the hand.

  • Thus, the patient thinks "close hand" and his artificial hand closes

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Medical Robots

I, iBotDean Kamen invented what he calls “the world’s most sophisticated robot” to transport people with mobility impairments places they never thought they could go.

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Medical Robots

  • Tank Chair is a custom off-road wheelchair that can go anywhere outdoors. Conquers streams, mud, snow, sand, and gravel, allowing you to get back to nature, and can also climb up and down stairs.

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Exploring Robots

  • The "Odyssey IIb" submersible robot is shown suspended in a tank.

  • The inset shows the "Sojourner" microrover robot being repaired.  Sojourner landed on the surface of Mars on July 4, 1998

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Exploring Robots

  • They store up muscle energy, so to speak, and then they boink themselves off in various directions.

  • They create a cellular communication network, on a node-to-node basis.

  • We're envisioning a fleet of these little guys being sent to some promising landing site

Exploring Caves With Hopping Microbots

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Exploring Robots

Wall Climbing and Manipulating Robot

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Exploring Robots

robotic automatic weather stations (AWS)

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Security Robots

Remotec Mine-Disposal Robots

John Bloomfield's prototype guardian robot

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Security Robots

  • Developed by SARCOS, this wearable robot suit fits around your body like an exoskeleton, enabling soldiers to easily lift 200-pounds with little effort.

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Security Robots

  • iRobot’s rugged and versatile robots handle dangerous tasks and keep personnel safe

  • Police need certain types of robots for bomb-disposal and for bringing video cameras and microphones into dangerous areas, where a human policeman might get hurt or killed. 

  • The military also uses robots for (1) locating and destroying mines on land and in water, (2) entering enemy bases to gather information, and (3) spying on enemy troops.


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Helping Robots

  • IRobot Looj

  • Friendly Robotics Robomow


  • IRobot Scooba

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Helping Robots

Honda’s Asimo

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Helping Robots

  • The HelpMate robots, made by the San Diego-based Pyxis Corp., can cart around hospital items, such as food trays, pharmaceuticals, lab specimens, X-rays, bandages and blankets.

  • They save nurses trips to cafeterias, pharmacies and central supply areas.

  • Saves hospitals the costs of human couriers.

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Cooperative Robots

Why build cooperating robots?

  • Decreased cost (through simpler individual robot design)

  • Decreased task completion time (through parallelism)

  • Increased reliability, robustness (through redundancy)

  • Increased scope for missions inherently distributed in:

    • Space

    • Time

    • Functionality

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Cooperative robotics

  • Characterized as intelligent systems that integrate perception, reasoning, and action to perform cooperative tasks under circumstances that are insufficiently known in advance, and dynamically changing during task execution.

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Cooperative robotics

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Cooperative Robots


  • A self-assembly and reconfiguring truss system that can be used in construction type activities

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Cooperative Robots

Application Domain

  • mining

  • construction

  • planetary exploration

  • Simulation and modeling

  • automated manufacturing

  • search and rescue missions

  • cleanup of hazardous waste

  • industrial/household maintenance

  • nuclear power plant decommissioning

  • security, surveillance, and reconnaissance

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Cooperative Robots

Self-Reconfigurable Robots

A snapshot of sidewinder like locomotion (left) and the rolling track (above).

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Cooperative Robots


Long-Term Goal: the Synthesis of 3D Scenes

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Toy Robots

  • Drive robot manually via web browser with live video feed

  • Built in proximity sensors can be toggled on or off to assist when driving the robot manually

  • Archive video on demand or via schedule

  • Control access to robot and video feed via multiple user accounts

  • Roving mode allows autonomous exploration with basic vision detection

  • Wireless control up to 300 feet from host computer

  • Fully open source and programmable

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Toy Robots


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