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Engineers are the men behind every amazing product. Everything you see around you is the brainchild of some engineer working somewhere in the world. Robotics is something that is popular and influencing for a number of reasons. Designing and building a robot is complicated and involves advanced-level science and knowledge. A robot has numerous functions working concurrently. A simple walk across the room by your robot has years of dedicated research behind it. That said, learning about engineers and their magnificent skills and knowledge about define robotics could be an amazing experience. You will come across geniuses who changed the world with their work. Following is a list of some of the most influential robot engineers that changed defined robotics forever.
David Hanson – the mind behind Sophia
Sophia is perhaps the most influential robot of the modern age. She is the only robot to have Saudi Arabia nationality, which is an amazing feat for a robot. A lot more went into the development of Sophia as it took Hanson many years to activate her. As a Ph.D. in engineering and interactive arts, Hanson had an eye for design and engineering from the beginning. His childhood hobbies included reading sci-fi comics, and that would later see him becoming an engineer. Hanson is the founder of Hanson Robotics and has a focus on creating human-like robots. He has big plans for the future and claims that upcoming robots will leave Sophia far behind in sophistication.
A word on Joe Jones – the creator of Roomba
When Roomba was first released in 2002 by developer iRobot, it stood as the first commercial cleaning robot in the world. The robot had a number of sensors and features that allowed it to navigate the premises and avoid obstacles when cleaning. The same sensors let the robot spot obstacles, stains, dirty spots on walls and floor, and stairs. The two independently operated side wheels help the robot move 360 degrees with ease. The designer of Roomba, Joe Jones, got the idea of creating a cleaning robot during his research on small reactive robots at the MIT AI Lab. He felt that these robots had the features and could move around with ease, so why not design a robot that could clean. He experimented with this and came up with prototype floor cleaning droids; the final version became Roomba.
Matejevic and Shirley’ NASA Sojourner
Want to meet the rover that took robots from Earth to Mars? NASA’s Sojourner was the first of its kind that achieved this feat. The rover reached Mars onboard NASA’s mission, Path Finder. The simple looking solar powered rover robot took man’s understanding of the red planet to another level. Not only that, but humans also realized the true potential of modern robots and how they could help them achieve the impossible. Although the rover was semi-automatic, it took 10 minutes for the rover to receive its operator’s commands.
David Barrette’s Robo Tuna
Barrette’s Ph.D. thesis let him experiment with the idea of building an autonomous robotic fish. The robotic fish looks and moves like a real fish thanks to six servomotors. The model mimics a Bluefin Tuna. The idea was to build a robotic fish like a submarine that could mimic the movements of fish and use a new type of propulsion system. The highly successful experiment concluded that it was possible to build a submarine based on this design and use a new type of propulsion system. The design showed more agility and speed as it moved around with little drag under the sea, much like fishes. The design proved to be an early iteration of a robotic underwater vessel featuring a revolutionary propulsion system.
Ichiro Kato’s WABOT
Perhaps the first human-like robot was designed and built by Japanese researcher Ichiro Kato in 1960. Later, he initiated the famous and influential WABOT project that would see him build the world’s first humanoid robot. The robot showed rudimentary intelligence and was adequately labeled as the intelligent robot. Though the robot would look rudimentary by today’s standard, it was a revolutionary design back in the 60s. The robot had two legs, two arms, and had two cameras that would function as eyes. The WABOT was able to walk on limbs and could grip objects using hand mounted tactile sensors. The innovation did not stop there as the android could use onboard acoustic and visual sensors to measure and identify distances in either direction. The robot featured an artificial mouth that is used to communicate with humans in the Japanese language only.
If history is anything to go by, it tells us that defined robotics is here to stay. Researchers are busy finding new ways to make more intelligent and capable robots. The pace at which A.I is developing is a hint that robots of the future might be more intelligent than humans.