Robotics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Robotics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Alan Winfield

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 0199695989

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Robotics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Alan Winfield

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 0199695989

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Robotics is a key technology in the modern world, a well-established part of manufacturing and warehouse automation, assembling cars or washing machines, or moving goods to and from storage racks for Internet mail order. Robots have taken their first steps into homes and hospitals, and have seen spectacular success in planetary exploration. Yet despite these successes, robots have failed to live up to the predictions of the 1950s and 60s, when it was widely thought--by scientists as well as the public--that we would have, by now, intelligent robots as butlers, companions, or co-workers. This Very Short Introduction explains how it is that robotics can be both a success story and a disappointment, and how robots can be both ordinary and remarkable. Alan Winfield introduces the subject by looking at the parts that together make a robot. Not surprisingly, these parts each have a biological equivalent: a robot's camera is like an animal's eyes, a robot's microcomputer is equivalent to an animal's brain, and so on. By introducing robots in this way this book builds a conceptual, non-technical picture of what a robot is, how it works, and how "intelligent" it is.

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motor will be stopped and the robot will therefore turn to its left—as if it were trying to get into the light. The opposite situation—left wing in darkness and right wing illuminated—will cause the robot to turn to its right. As a result, the robot is able to find its way through a simple obstacle course, toward the light. Solarbot is said to demonstrate positive phototaxis and a simple kind of obstacle avoidance. Solarbot also orients itself toward the light if it’s not directly facing it.

and during the early development of the BRL MFCs, researcher Ioannis Ieropoulos tested different foodstuffs to try and find one with the best energy efficiency. The material he discovered worked best is the polysaccharide chitin, found typically in insect exoskeletons. Remarkably, an early prototype of the EcoBot was powered by only eight dead houseflies (Musca domestica), one per MFC. Eight MFCs wired in series generate too little power to continuously operate a robot, so the electrical energy

microbial inoculum can be cycled. Also important is that the MFC has been shrunk to around 1 cubic cm; tests showed that a larger number of smaller MFCs is the best way to increase the power output of the robot’s artificial digestion system. EcoBot III is fitted with a total of forty-eight MFCs in two rings around the body of the robot. 9. EcoBot III: a robot with an artificial digestive system. The inset image shows a single MFC In another innovation, EcoBot III has a flytrap at the top of the

light detection and ranging (LIDAR), will be more or less useless. Artificial whiskers might, in principle, provide the best form of sensor to enable the robot to navigate and search such confined and dangerous spaces. In such an environment a robot would have to tread carefully, and the feather touch of artificial whiskers would minimize the risk of the robot itself causing any further collapse. The Bristol Robotics Lab Scratchbot (see Figure 10) was designed and built as a testbed for

gap becomes more acute, and evolutionary roboticists have adopted a different approach. This approach is to hand-design and therefore fix the design of the robot’s physical body altogether and evolve only the robot’s control system. Here the genome codes only for the robot’s control system, which means that all fitness trials can be conducted using the same physical robot; in fact, just one physical robot. The process remains essentially the same as shown in Figure 18. The only difference is

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