By Tanisha Crump, Connor Elliott, Mike Loreg, Sean O’Hara, Nathaniel Smith, and Jason Taylor


    Robotics is the study of the uses, design and manufacture of robots as well as the operation and application of robots and computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. Some of the most essential characteristics a robot needs are the ability to sense and get feedback through them, actuation through motors and etc., and the ability to move.

    Sensing and feedback allow the robot to interact with its environment, external or otherwise. A robot needs to be aware at least somewhat of its surroundings. This could be done by giving the robot sensors such as light sensors, touch and pressure sensors, chemical sensors, and sonar and ultrasonic sensors which will give your robot awareness of its environment.

    A robot needs to be able to move around the environment its in. Whether rolling on wheels, walking on legs or propelling by thrusters a robot needs to be able to move. To count as a robot either the whole robot moves, like the Sojourner or just parts of the robot moves, like the Canada Arm.
  • Energy- A robot needs to be able to power itself. A robot might be solar powered, electrically powered, battery powered. The way your robot gets its energy will depend on what your robot needs to do.
  • Intelligence- A robot needs some kind of "smarts." This is where programming enters the pictures. A programmer is the person who gives the robot its 'smarts.' The robot will have to have some way to receive the program so that it knows what it is to do.


Uses and How It Affects Us

    Robotics, as we know of it, has transformed a great deal. Robotics date back as far as ancient myths! Robot comes from the Czech word 'robota' which means 'forced work or labor'. Some of the earliest robotics was found in 1400 B.C. Babylonians developed the clepsydra, a clock that measured time using the water flow. It was considered one of the first "robotic" devices in history. Not shortly after, in 350 B.C. a Greek mathematician, Archytas of Tarentum built a mechanical bird "the Pigeon" that was propelled by steam. It was dated to be one of the earliest forms of flight! What about in 1495? Leonardo DaVinci designed a mechanical device that resembled an armored knight. "Leonardo's robot" and mechanisms like it were usually built to amuse royalty. Robotics started to become more and more complex. In 1936 Alan Turing introduced a theoretical computer called the Turing Machine. In 1940, Issac Asimov created his Three Laws of Robotics: 1) A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm 2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Asimov later adds the Zeroth Law which states: A robot may not injure humanity, or though inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. In 1956, George Devol and Joseph Engelberger form the world's first robotics company, Unimation. In 1961, Unimate, the world's first industrial robot, was put to work on a General Motors assembly line. Robotics has been traced back to the early B.C. years. But how does this affect us you might ask? Well the development of robotics has lead us to new and improved machineries that are used in our everyday life. According to NASA, Robotics is the study of robots. Robots are machines that can be used to do jobs. Some robots can do work by themselves. Other robots must always have a person telling them what to do.

    Robots, in layman’s terms, are essentially here to help make humans day to day life a little bit easier. In some definitions a robot is described as an “artificial agent" Artificial meaning someone made it and agent meaning it does something for someone. Some places you may find robotics that you overlook are; vehicles, precision cutting, lasers, mobile phones, bomb disposal, surgeons are performing robotic-assisted surgeries, manufacturing, to assist the disabled, mail delivery in large corporations, to assist police and SWAT teams in dangerous situations, land mine detection, toys, and robotics in space. Robotics is a cheaper, easier and safer way of getting things done! Robots can explore inside gas tanks, volcanoes, Mars and other places too dangerous for humans to go! Robots also can do one thing over and over again. They are there for those repetitive tasks that humans often hate doing. Without the use of robotics, a lot of information would be unknown. A lot of research is done using robots and without those we would not have vital information about space and danger zones like volcanoes. Robotics are used in our everyday life and our usually overlooked. What about your dishwasher? That is robotics based! There are so many devices around you that can be classified under robotics. Over the centuries, robotics has grown and has become more complex. Who knows what they may do in the future.

Types of Robots

    There are many different types of robots. There are endless different ways we can implement them into this very strange world. Yes there are robots that are human looking, but there are so many more than that and they range in looks from this little microscopic thing to huge creature looking things that are also known as animatronics.


    There are about 6 main kinds of classifications for robots. By classification, we are talking about whether a robot is on the ground, underwater, aerial, polar, and even space robots as well. The sixth classification is stationary but many of the others can also be stationary at the same time.


    A great example of a ground robot is a UGV which stands for unmanned ground vehicle and is any vehicle that operates while on the ground without humans on board. Usually the robot has a set of sensors to help move itself or cameras for someone to control it from a distance. They are similar to ground UAVs which will be discussed soon.


    My favorite water robot is called a Pluto Plus which is featured in the picture. This machine allows people to hold on and travel and is used in the real life military for under water operations. They can be controlled on the spot or by a person a huge distance away. Another example of a water robot can be found in pools, If you know someone with a automatic cleaner then you know someone who owns a robot. These robots patrol the bottom of the pool sucking up junk and that is about it.


    UAVs are the prime example for aerial robotics. They are the newest technology for military survelliance and are extremely revolutionary in that they do not require a pilot so if they are shot down there is no loss of life. These are useful for taking pictures of the ground and finding people like for example say Osama Bin Laden. With these we can start developing safer control of planes and possibly have pilots on the ground to back up those in the air.


    These robots are designed for cold and windy environments and are used to navigate really tight areas like crevices.


    We send out robots like the Mars Rover to space for the simple reason that they won’t die without air, can withstand much harsher environments and can be controlled from here where as humans would risk death. They collect samples and bring them back or test them on the spot and give results. They are extremely useful and many more will probably be used.


These are the robots everyone thinks of. These are the robots without the ability to move that sit there and do the same thing over and over again. More like machinery than robots but still classified since they have different abilities than machines.


    A few examples include android, humanoid, biomorphic, and nanorobots. There is many more in medical, disability, agriculture, food service, and military. Robots are literally everywhere and most people do not even realize it.


    Many robots move, they do this through the interaction of many parts or just a few and this allows for endless possibilities for their uses. Robots use wheels and tracks and at first could roll forward or backward but now we have robots that can walk and run. There are even those that can climb stuff and “jump”. By jump, they actually just hop up in the air. There are even some that swim and whose parts are protected by certain materials and substances. They usually use a type of projection like a jellyfish uses to shoot itself around.


    Robots have to have coding to tell them when to move and analyze what is in front of them and other scenarios of that sort. They need a way to be controlled by an outside source (hint: That is you), which is called remote control, they can also have a system based off of random movement or movement in a straight line through information they pick up themselves. There are simpler ones that just go in one direction or maybe two but that is the limit of their capabilities.

Remote Control

    Most kids can relate to these. These robots can range from a toy that the person controls to the Mars Rover that is a great distance away. These robots are usually simple but can be advanced such as robotic helicopters.

Autonomously Randomized Robot

    An autonomously randomized robot is a mobile robot without sensors. These robots move around and will hit anything around them without hesitation as they are programmed to just move.

Autonomously guided robot

    These robots move by using either lasers to “see” where they are going, through triangulation and GPS tracking, or through sensors that read anything that is close. Through this ability these robots can accomplish things like vacuuming without destroying anything.

Line-Following Robot

    These are very interesting robots in that they follow a set path based on a visual line or a wire in the floor. They could give the illusion that they know where they are going but in reality they are playing a game of keep the line in the middle of me.


    Robots are becoming increasingly common in our world. We seem them everywhere, from toys to tools – even if we don't recognize them. In order for robots to be autonomous they have to be able to interact with humans and the environment. This requires not only artificial intelligence, but also a lot of work into customization.

Human Robot Interaction

    The field of robotics has a large influence from and on science fiction. When designing robot interactions we have to remember Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics:

    “1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

     2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

     3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.”

    With that in mind we can look at some recent research done in the human robot interaction (HRI) field:
  • Georgia Tech has been doing research with robots and attention getting/receiving. It seems like it would be easy to just shout out “Hey!” or even someone's name, but there are occasions that require more subtlety. Their robot, Simon, will make a gesture or action and analyze the human that they are trying to grab the attention of to see if they are reacting appropriately. Simon also has to determine whether or not a human is trying to get his attention. He does this by analyzing what he sees through his camera. With about 80% accuracy Simon could tell when someone was paying attention to or ignoring him[1].
  • Another Georgia Tech study shows that when robots touches a human their perceived intention greatly affects the reaction of the human. For example, when the human thought that the robot nurse was going to wash their arm they were okay with it, but when they thought that the robot was trying to comfort them there seemed to be a negative reaction. Also, it was noted that there tended to be a negative reaction to the robot nurse warning the human of touching before doing so, as apposed to just touching them[2].
  • A USC project for assistive HRI outlines the need for customized, adaptive, and personalized assistive interactions. Socially assistive robots (SARs) are made to monitor, encourage, coach, train, or even teach through social interactions. Because of this there is a need for personalized interaction[3].
    As we can see there is a lot to look at when developing HRI. This demands for making HRI as smooth as possible will only increase in quantity and quality until robots are completely human like.

Robot Environment Interaction

    Interacting with the environment is slightly different that human interactions because it has to be less situational. One of the biggest issues with environmental interaction is obstacles. Robots such as Albert the museum guide must use and understand camera images to learn from running into an obstacle and figuring out that it should not run into that object, such as a museum visitor, or anything else that might be in the way[4]. For robot environment interaction to take place there has to be sensors of some kind, an environment to analyze, and a program to analyze and respond to the environment.



    The control of robotics is designed around 3 core phases: Sensing, Planning, and Acting. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous, or human controlled. The most efficient is determined based on the robots application. Some lend themselves to a specific paradigm and control method.



    Hierarchical robots move through the sense-plan-act cycle in a linear fashion. Sensory input must be able to be interpreted by the robot in order to formulate a plan. This can present difficulty in programming both in processing the environment and formulating a plan to interact with it.


    Reactive robots are hardwired for a certain response to a sense. An example would be a vehicle that changes direction when it bumps an object. No memory or calculation is required with a strictly reactive robot.


    A hybrid paradigm reintroduces the planning phase, but does not require a linear format. An example again could be a vehicle that will automatically change directions when it bumps an object, but after the bump will go back to the planning phase to determine which direction it should try next to achieve its objective.


Sensing requires input about the environment from various sensors. From the simplest 'bumper' switch to the most complex gyroscope, a sensor can be any switch that you find in any electronic circuit. Sensors communicate environmental stimuli by varying the current they send to the robots processing unit. This can simply be an on/off state(as in the bumper switch) where any detectable current is considered on, and no current is considered off. A more complicated sensor with variable resistors can have different levels of current to represent multiple possibilities within the environment. The table below contains some common sensors and a brief explanation.




A bumper switch is essentially a push button that is designed to be 'on' when contact causes the switch to close.


A gyroscope senses the orientation of the robot.  Gyroscopes can sense orientation in a single plane or multiple planes depending on their sophistication.

 Light sensor

A light sensor uses a photocell.  This is a light sensitive resistor.  The amount of current varies based on exposure and the robot can be tuned to react to ranges of light exposure.


One common application of this technology is a range finder that sends out an ultrasonic signal and is able to calculate distances based on response time.


Cameras can be used to relay information to human operators/observers, or they can allow the robot itself to extract information from its environment.  Cameras can either be in the visible or infrared spectrum.


    Robots can achieve movement through various types of electric motors. They operate on the by creating mechanical movement from an electromagnetic field. Small geared motors are very common in robotics projects by enthusiasts. The electric motors used in robots can come in multiple set-ups including partial turn motors that restrict movement in joints and solenoids which emit a powerful field that is often used for manipulators such as gripper hands.

Autonomy levels

    Robots have a range of autonomy anywhere from completely operator controlled, to completely autonomous. The application of the robot is a large part of what determines the level of autonomy. Some applications would present an intractable computing problem without a human controller to make decisions. More monotonous applications would waste manpower if they were not completely autonomous. Finally, the level of autonomy has some correlation with the robotic paradigms from the beginning of the section. A robot can have a varying level of autonomy at each stage; sensing, planning, and acting.

Low autonomy

    Robots with low levels of autonomy require human operators to carry out their tasks. An example of a robot with low autonomy at every phase is a bomb disposal robot. The human directs the cameras in the sensing phase, formulates the plan, and then directly controls the actuation of the robot.

Medium Autonomy

    Robots with a medium level of autonomy have control at some levels. Typically the planning phase, which is most computationally intensive, is the one that will see the highest levels of human interaction. Some robots may also have autonomous acting with a manual option. We may see a hybrid paradigm used with robots of medium autonomy. An example of this could be space exploration robots where humans dictate the overall plan, but allow the robot to carry it out on its own to a degree. This can let humans decide where the robot goes, but save valuable battery life by shutting down communications circuits when they aren't required.

Highly Autonomous

    Highly autonomous robots perform their tasks with minimal human oversight. Many autonomous robots are industrial robots designed to perform a single task with precision. Often we will see only a reactive paradigm. With industrial robots, the only 'sensing' is when the robot has completed one motion and is ready to begin the next. However, there are more sophisticated robots such as Baxter who has some elements of the hybrid paradigm. This robot can be shown how to do a task which it stores in memory. It also has hardwired safety features that allow humans to work near it with minimal danger. After being shown a task it can operate autonomously.

Future and Conclusions

    The future of robotics will be incredible. Robots will do all kinds of amazing things, completely succeeding the ways and thoughts of the past. They will be able to help humans in many ways and also do many tasks more efficient than any human being at much faster rates. We will see more and more pop up, even in our everyday lives. Robots will improve for entertainment purposes, our military services, robots will allow us to travel and explore many places that were unthinkable before and are still unthinkable for humans themselves, and finally, will make our everyday lives easier.

    There many robots that are very entertaining to operate. They come in many different shapes and sizes and some are way more advanced than others. Most robots used for entertainment are small, unsophisticated, and can do a limited amount of functions. They usually have a small control communicating their every move and are unable to think on their own. Some come simply with only a mechanical arm that is programmed to bend, swivel, and grab small objects. However some robots, which are used for entertainment, that can be quite complex. There are robots out there in which groups have designed with very advanced algorithms that can speak simple pre-programmed language, move on their own, complete simple desired tasks, follow verbal commands, etc.. One example is in the form of a dinosaur named “Lucky” and walks around at the Disney theme park. Lucky walking around on his hind legs can follow his master’s command and go specific places or just simply roam around the amusement park without running into obstructions or people. Another example of an advanced entertainment robot would be “Robocoaster.” This piece of technology is the first robot with worldwide certification to handle human beings. “It is a two person rollercoaster that practically has an unrestricted range of motion and excellent dynamic performance of an industrial robot have been exploited in the leisure and amusement industry for the first time” quotes KUKA robotics (maker of the Robocoaster). In the near future robots will continue to get more advanced, have more features, and be able to think and accomplish tasks on their own.

    As time advances, warfare is changing. The United States is using many technologies that save lives. We send very advanced robots to do dangerous tasks and missions, so that there is no risk of a human life being in danger. Instances the robots are used in mainly consist of defusing, placing, or dropping bombs of all kinds on the enemy. When the soldiers are informed of a bomb near the area, they will send a robot in to the site controlled by cameras and joysticks. These machines can investigate suspicious packages and wires for explosives. Resulting in a fewer amount of soldiers being killed in battle. There is a kind of robot called the Uribe robot and this type of robot is used to get into small areas in which humans cannot fit. The Uribe robot was used when investigating areas after the World Trade Centers were struck. The robot provided officials with remote cameras and sensors to detect human activity. Firefighters also use this type of robot to locate human victims before entering into a house which is on fire. The Uribe is a kind of robot that will continue to grow and be used to help the future of America grow and make jobs much easier and the results more precise.

    The Air Force is one of the main armed forces which uses robots in their daily lives. They send a robot via remote control by airman on the ground and takes real time photos of troop movement on the ground. It shows much more information and detail because it is a wider range therefore more space will be covered. This robot flies up to 25,000 feet in the air and has been flown on countless missions. One of the main advantages of having this kind of robot around is it can penetrate through sandstorms and other forms of weather or climate changes. This robot will soon take over the military, all branches, because it makes their lives easier in general and also gives them more information that they did not have the ability to get before this robot was invented. There are alterations that could be made to fit the specific requirement of what the branch wants to get out of the robot, but in general, it will help them to succeed and have more information about their mission.

    Space based robotic technology is used quite frequently with NASA. There are three specific mission areas for this robot including; exploration robotics, science payload maintenance, and on-orbit servicing. The most important on is the exploration of the robot. This mission is very important to this day in age because this is the way scientists do their research on other planets. They can send out a robot to gather information and go into places humans cannot go and find important data for further investigation. When sending a robot out into space it increases the reliability on the equipment to work, but it finds more precise data than a human eye could. The functions of this robot can be to gather samples which are then transported back to the lab for further scientific research. The robots are in search right now for life on other planets. This is made possible by the technology we have in today’s world. Having the robot around will allow scientists to have more information than ever before about life and other signs of life on other planets.

    Many people are deciding whether or not to clean manually versus automatically in today’s world. The robovac is an example of an automatic vacuum cleaner. It uses brushes and a vacuum to clean the floor. There are many advances with this invention and many changes to be made. However, this is definitely a start to the advancements of the robot. The invention of the robovac helps many people with their daily hectic lives. It reduces the amount of time they have to spend on an in house chore, and allows the robot to do the job for them. This is just one of many new pieces of technology that have been launched to make our lives easier and less hectic.

    Overall, robots have been making our jobs easier on a daily basis. There are still some major adjustments that need to be made but overall they are helpful to many. The robots are not only helpful in the home but also with military, entertainment in general, and traveling. With the invention of the robot we are able to communicate faster and easier with people further away. It also allows for scientists to have more research outside the lab, and have information sent to them via robot. The robot continues to advance our modern day findings and information and will soon take over the world.

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