Robotics may still seem to some like a far-off futuristic fantasy, but robots have been a part of daily life for several decades. The Tech Museum of Innovation notes that while the idea of robots was around for centuries, robots became a reality in the 1950s and 1960s when transistors and integrated circuits were invented. Not all robots walk and talk; some simply do their job and are not designed to speak or interact with humans. Robots in the modern world fulfill a wide variety of tasks.
The vast majority of robots in use today perform labor tasks for humans. The first robots created were used to produce ashtrays, according to the Tech Museum of Innovation. NASA's Rover Ranch website mentions that robots that perform industrial tasks often do jobs that are either too dangerous or too hard for humans to do.
Automotive factories use robots to cut and assemble parts. With space exploration, scientists send robots to explore the surfaces of the moon or planets like Mars, while other robots go into space to repair space equipment. In the medical field, a robot might be used to perform surgery that is too delicate for a surgeon's hands to perform or as an aid in regular surgeries such as coronary artery bypasses.
Some robots perform more social duties and interact with humans through talking, sounds or music. These robots take on a humanoid persona than do industrial robots. Japan's HRP-4C robot, designed to look like the average Japanese woman, sings and dances for spectators and, in 2010, performed a mini concert for observers.
The Telenoid R1 robot, also a Japanese creation, allows users to communicate over long distances by mimicking the speaker's movements, according to New York Daily News. The medical field uses robotic patients in order to give students the opportunity to interact with a patient without running the risk of hurting a human subject. Robotics engineers in Japan work to create robots which can mimic human expressions and emotions that could one day be used to help patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Toy robots allow anyone to enjoy the advanced technology of a robot without spending thousands of dollars or more. Dogs make popular robotic toys for kids, with models such as Sony's Aibo and the Hasbro and Tiger Electronics creation iDog. Some toy robots look like the average idea of what a robot should look like. These toys perform simple tasks such as walking, dancing or speaking on command. The toy company WowWee produces a wide array of robotic toys, such as the Robosapiens line of toys, for children and robot enthusiasts.
- NASA Rover Ranch: Types of Robots
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Robots in Reproductive Medicine
- New York Daily News: Japanese robot Telenoid R1 connects people for long distance chats by mimicking speakers' movements
- The Tech Museum of Innovation: Robotics -- About the Exhibit
- Popular Mechanics: Social Robotics
- cmat-2976 image by Paco Ayala from Fotolia.com