Robotics is an interdisciplinary field dedicated to the design, construction, and use of robots, or machines, to assist and mimic human actions by carrying out a series of complex actions. Robotics incorporates core disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science.
Robots initially were built to perform monotonous tasks such as manufacturing cars on an assembly line, but have since developed to perform more complex work. Many robot applications are in environments either unsafe or impossible for humans to operate within. These include in space, underwater, in high heat, or high radiation environments.
While robots exist in many different types and forms, common characteristics include:
- Robots consist of some kind of mechanical construction designed to perform a specific task.
- Robots contain electrical components in order to power and control their machinery.
- Robots require computer programming of some kind to decide when or how to undertake a task.
Robots each have differing levels of autonomy, from human-controlled bots performing tasks fully controlled by a human to fully autonomous bots that can perform tasks without any human intervention.
The design, construction, and operation of robots involves theory from a range of fields. Below is a list of topics related to robotics theory and fundamentals.
- Human-Robot Interaction (HRI)
- Social Robotics
- Legged Locomotion
- Swarm Robotics
- Control theory
- Morphogenetic engineering and self-assembling robots
- Artificial Life (ALife)
- Soft robotics
- Biohybrid or bio-syncretic robots
Robotics are used in a range of applications. Typical examples include performing:
- monotonous or repetitive tasks with greater efficiency and accuracy than humans
- tasks in unsafe environments not suitable for humans
- jobs too physically demanding for humans
Robots have many applications in the military. These include drones for surveillance or strikes, Modular Advanced Armed Robotic Systems (MAARS), tactical combat robots such as DOGO, or bomb disposal robots.
The manufacturing industry has many repetitive tasks ideal for automation with robotics, including welding, assembly, packing, etc.
Robotics have found use in agriculture, increasing efficiency in tasks such as harvesting, seeding, weed control, etc.
Robotics are used in medical procedures and operations due to their potential for increased precision.
Robots can operate in environments that are too dangerous or require too many resources to send human astronauts. The most well-known robot examples in space exploration are likely the series of rovers and landers exploring Mars and gathering data on the planet not currently possible by humans.
Robots can explore parts of the ocean, including the deep ocean, which would be too dangerous for human exploration. Due to the high pressure, submarines can dive to specific depths and further exploration has been performed using robots controlled remotely.
- Subsea 7
- Deep Ocean Engineering
- FMC Technologies Schilling
- Fugro Subsea
- ECA Group
- Forum Energy Technologies
- Soil Machine Dynamics
- Liquid Robotics
- Footprint Coalition
- MassRobotics in partnership with Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)
- Deepfield Robotics (agriculture)
- Bosch Bonirob (agriculture)