The Terminator series, Robocop, iRobot are some of the top performing robot movies, while there is an endless list of movies which have portrayed robots in both positive and negative characters. Some portrayed them in full metallic body, other as human lookalike with metallic skeletons. All these movies are fiction and human imagination about the robots and the debate about “What is a Robot?” is still going on as many researchers have different concepts to define the term.
Some researchers use this term to refer to physical robots, while others argument that virtual software agents (also called bots) should also be included in this category. After many years of debate, the general conclusion they came up with is “the term ‘Robot’ refers to machines, mechanical or virtual artificial agents, which are electronically programmed to perform some physical task”. Research in ‘robotics’ is not new and many scientists have spent their lives in research and development of this field. Some new trends on which researchers are currently working are listed here to show some of the achievements and hard work of the researchers.
Spot the Dog
Boston Dynamics, a Google-owned robotics company, has recently launched its new robotic bot named ‘Spot’. This four-legged bot is capable of climbing stairs, run on rough terrain and can navigate through patches of trees.
Researchers of Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) are working on a project whose aim is to remove the language barrier between humans and machines. The idea behind this project, dubbed Communicating with Computers (CwC) is to enable computers to express themselves through spoken language, facial expression and gestures.
Robot at your service
A theme park in Nagasaki, Japan, is planning to open a hotel “The Henn-na Hotel” which will be partially staffed by androids. These androids will work as reception attendants, waiters, cleaning staff and other attendants.
This is a whole new sub-category of robotics. The concept behind this category is to make more effective mechanisms that can learn from nature. Spot – the project of Boston Dynamics also belongs to this sub-category.
This is an extension of the branch of robotics named biomimicry. Biomimicry is different from bio-inspired as it is about copying the nature instead of learning from it. When one thinks about a ‘Robot’ the next thing that comes in mind is ‘hardness’. As its name suggests, soft robots are a new kind of robotic systems that are soft and can mold themselves in different shapes. One of the project of Soft robotics is under development in Purdue University where researchers are working on the idea of mass-production of circuits that are made up of liquidmetal alloys.
Robots helping doctors in operations or a totally automatic driverless car that were considered fiction of human imagination a few decades ago are already the reality today. With the rapid evolution of technology and rigorous efforts of research, soon many more robotic dreams will become a reality.