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Robotics, Past, Present, and Future Susan Eileen Fox Macalester College September 5, 2004 Science fiction robots Real-world robots Manufacturing, Security, and Exploration Real-world robots Consumer and Recreational Classes of robots Deterministic

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Robotics, Past, Present, and Future

Susan Eileen Fox

Macalester College

September 5, 2004



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Real-world robots

Manufacturing, Security, and Exploration


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Real-world robots

Consumer and Recreational


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Classes of robots

  • Deterministic

    • Human moves robot through task, robot replicates task

  • Remote-control

    • Human actively controls actions

  • Autonomous

    • Robot moves independently in the world

  • Assisted/Assistive

    • Robot assists human in controlling its actions


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Robotics in the past

  • 1960s: Shakey, first robot arm, SRI cart

  • 1970s: Voyager space probes, multi-legged robots

  • 1980s: improved communications and computers onboard!

  • 1990s: AAAI Robot Competition, Mars rover, Handyboard

  • 2000s: Affordable robot hardware and software


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Macalester robotics: Lego robots

  • Mindstorm and Handyboard controllers

  • Lego motors and parts

  • Sensors:

    • Touch sensors

    • Light sensors

    • Rotational sensors

    • Sonar and IR sensors

    • CMU Cam


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Macalester robotics: Lauren and Humphrey

  • Pioneer 2 DX robots

  • Onboard Linux computer

  • Wireless Ethernet

  • Forward and rear sonar sensors

  • Video camera

  • Gripper


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Current robotics research

  • Kismet (MIT)

  • Wheelesly (MIT)

  • Autonomous vehicles (CMU)

  • Mars robots (NASA)


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Current research test beds

  • Mars exploration

  • Robocup

    • AIBO movie

  • Search and Rescue


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Future of robotics: 10 years

  • Manufacturing: more “intelligent” robots move in

  • Security and exploration:

    • Patrol + surveillance

    • Miniaturization

    • More autonomous robots

  • Consumer and recreational robots:

    • Lawnmowers, vacuums, kitchen appliances become mainstream

    • Prosthetics and intelligence wheelchairs hit the market

    • Automated vehicles/Smart roads

    • Robot toys of increasing intelligence

  • NOT: true intelligence, androids, science fiction imaginings


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