What Are Robots, and Why Would You Want One?

Robots are mechanical artificial systems that make decisions, carry out assignments, collect data, perform actions, and make decisions. We have seen robots in action at national parks, grocery stores, hospitals, and military bases; but these systems were very different than the ones we know today. In fact, we did not see these systems until decades ago. The first robots were complicated machines, programmed to carry out simple tasks. However, over time robots have developed to become complex systems, able to do many different tasks, such as picking stocks, delivering packages, unloading trucks, operating equipment, and more.


The goal of robotic engineers and scientists is to create artificially intelligent robots that can perform even more complex tasks, perhaps to the extent that humans could never do. In fact, some experts believe that computers and robots will become so similar that one day a robot might be able to beat a human at chess, another game with a complicated set of rules. Is this the future of artificially intelligent robots? One thing is for sure. As the coordinator for the space research think tank, I am very interested in what researchers are doing to design robots that can work alongside humans.

If you have ever watched the Dog Whisperer, you may wonder what kind of dog a robot would be able to handle, if it ever had to work alongside people. Would it be a good guard dog, a big dog, a small dog, a medium-sized dog, or a big dog? It appears that Boston Dynamics has taken the lead on this one with their new big dog robot, the BigDog. It is capable of many different tasks, including climbing stairs, running up and down curbs, running up and down hills, obstacle jumping, and working alongside humans in difficult situations, like in search and rescue operations.

Another robotic system that was recently developed by Boston Dynamics is the Roboquad. It is an android like robot. It was created to carry out specific functions in difficult situations. It can carry out tasks such as picking up objects from a distance, reconfiguring itself, and can even operate a camera from a remote location. One of the most impressive things about this robot is that it is actually four robots in one, each performing a separate task.

A smaller robot called the PicoCab has been developed by Carnegie Mellon University to perform a variety of small tasks. This robot is only about half an inch long. It can fold up and fit in a briefcase, and can also travel by using a small parachute. Before it was developed by the university, the program was a joint one between the military and industry. The military developed the small form of robot for use by the Marines, and then industry developed the mini version for use in businesses. It is very possible that one day this robot could take over most of the job duties left behind by human workers.

There are other robots being developed. One such robotic pet is called the Theraputty. It is an android like robot that is programmed to clean houses. Although this robot does not look very attractive, it does clean up the house by using its vacuum. The developers hope that over the next few years these robots will be able to do work that humans can not.

Robotic engineers have also designed robots that would be able to work at places where people are forbidden. For example, military zones that are off limits to humans would be able to be patrolled by robotic soldiers. Another example would be an office that could no longer handle employees due to the cost of caring for them, so they would hire robots to do the work.

With all of these robots around, you can see why they are called robots. They help us carry out our daily jobs with greater efficiency. As time goes on, more jobs will be able to be done by robotic machines. However, we do need to watch out for rogue robots that could do harm to mankind. Just as it would be dangerous to allow a child to play with a hot-water bottle, it would be just as dangerous to let a robot do all the work. Thus, although we may soon be seeing many robots helping us around the house, it would also be nice if we let a robot to take care of one simple job and leave the rest to the robots.