Robotics: definition, application cases and laws

With the development of artificial intelligence, robotics is booming. Automatons are now joined by humanoid robots or autonomous computer programs: bot, chatbot…

What is robotics?

Robotics is a field of activity covering the study, design and manufacture of robots or automated machines. It involves skills in computers, electronics and mechanics.

What is a bot?

To be considered a robot, a machine must be equipped with sensors, which analyze the environment, but also with a logical processing system and actuators.

From the information obtained within its environment, the latest generation robot can act autonomously and intelligently based on embedded learning models or machine learning. It thus enters the family of AI.

What is the origin of the word robot?

The term robot was conceptualized in 1920 by Czech writer Karel Çapek. He uses this term in one of his plays (Rossum’s Universal Robots) to refer to an android invented by a scientist to perform tasks normally performed by humans.

What are the different types of robots?

Robotics encompasses a very wide and diversified field of activity. Here are some examples and fields of application:

  • Industry: assembly line management robot…
  • Army: drone, robot-spy, robot-mule…
  • Security: CCTV…
  • Health: ultrasound, assisted surgery…
  • Aerospace: NASA explorer robot…
  • Transport: self-driving car…
  • Domestic use: robot vacuum cleaner, robot mower…
  • Accompaniment: automated toy, humanoid robot…
  • IT: chatbot, voice assistant…

What are the 3 main evolutions of robots?

There are three main stages in the evolution of robots:

  1. The first robots were nothing but mechanical automatons. In the 16th century, Leonardo da Vinci is said to have created the first android automaton that could coordinate the movements of its limbs and jaws.
  2. Cybernetic robots emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. These are robots programmed to perform specific tasks. The most advanced are the first rovers sent to other planets.
  3. Humanoid robots emerged from the 2010s. These are robots that take on a human appearance and are designed to interact with humans. This generation incorporates the latest developments in AI linked in particular to deep learning.

What are the three laws of robotics?

To limit the behaviors or harmful effects that robots with autonomy could cause, three laws of robotics have been enacted. It was science fiction writer Isaac Asimov who enacted them with editor John Campbell. These three laws appeared in the short story “Runaround” published in 1942:

  • A robot cannot harm a human being or, by remaining passive, allow a human being to be exposed to danger.
  • A robot must obey orders given to it by a human unless such orders conflict with the first law.
  • A robot must protect its existence as long as that protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

What are the professions related to robotics?

Among the robotics professions, we find the robot designer, the maintenance technician, the mechatronics engineer (a profile combining skills in electronics and computer science) or even the numerical control operator.

When did robotics appear?

The term robotics, derived from the word robot, was first used by the Russian writer Isaac Asimov. It is found in the science fiction story “Liar!”, published in 1941.

Robots, inspired by the first automatons, appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. They are equipped with sensors allowing them to collect information about their environment, which then influences their activity. The development of robotics is strongly linked to the industrial field, which developed from the middle of the 20th century. The latest intelligent robots created concern autonomous objects, voice assistants, humanoid robots…

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Robotics: definition, application cases and laws


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