Robotics is an interdisciplinary research area at the interface of computer science and engineering. Robotics involves the design, construction, operation, and use of robots. The goal of robotics is to design intelligent machines that can help and assist humans. Robotics draws on the fields of information engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, Artificial Intelligence, and others.
The word robotics was derived from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which was published in 1920. The word robot comes from the Slavic word robota, which means slave/servant. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, creatures who can be mistaken for humans – very similar to the modern ideas of androids. Karel Čapek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother Josef Čapek as its actual originator.
- Robots all have some kind of mechanical construction, a frame, form or shape designed to achieve a particular task. For example, a robot designed to travel across heavy dirt or mud, might use caterpillar tracks. The mechanical aspect is mostly the creator’s solution to completing the assigned task and dealing with the physics of the environment around it. Form follows function.
- Robots have electrical components that power and control the machinery. For example, the robot with caterpillar tracks would need some kind of power to move the tracker treads. That power comes in the form of electricity, which will have to travel through a wire and originate from a battery, a basic electrical circuit. Even petrol powered machines that get their power mainly from petrol still require an electric current to start the combustion process which is why most petrol powered machines like cars, have batteries. The electrical aspect of robots is used for movement (through motors), sensing (where electrical signals are used to measure things like heat, sound, position, and energy status) and operation (robots need some level of electrical energy supplied to their motors and sensors in order to activate and perform basic operations)
- All robots contain some level of computer programming code. A program is how a robot decides when or how to do something. In the caterpillar track example, a robot that needs to move across a muddy road may have the correct mechanical construction and receive the correct amount of power from its battery, but would not go anywhere without a program telling it to move.
The global robotics market, as noted by market reports, was registered at US$42,654 million in 2018 and it is anticipated to hit US$181,828 million by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 28.5 percent. The major driving force behind the substantial growth of the market is wide-scale deployment and advancements in robots as a machine and as an application. Robotics is making its way into various market verticals, proving its worth in several industries of today.
Current and potential applications
Cobots (collaborative robots)
Agricultural robots (AgRobots)
Robot combat for sport – hobby or sport event where two or more robots fight in an arena to disable each other.