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A robotic Arm used in the manufacture of automobiles among other products.

ROBOTS IN THE WORKPLACE: The real thing.

The actual use of mechanical means to accomplish tasks can be traced back to ancient history with the water clock invented in 250 B.C. by Ctesibius of Alexandria, a Greek inventor. Nicola Tesla, the inventor of AC electricity and radio, developed remote control vehicles in the late 1800's. In the 50s and 60s, when computing and mechanical research benefited from the postwar boom, the actual study of robotics began to become more practical. After numerous attempts at creating robots with television cameras, wheels, and sensing devices, Joe Engelberger, called the "father of robotics", founded the Unimatics Company, and mass produced the Unimate. The most common "real robot" is the robotic arm, which has been a vital part of automobile manufacturing since 1962, when the Unimate was used by GM for auto assembly. In 1970, when the technology was developed at Stanford university for the Stanford Arm, the benchmark was created for all future robotic arms. The arm is composed of jointed sections, which are computer controlled to perform a number of machining tasks. The arm is a "specific task" robot and is the first universally accepted piece of robotic hardware to go "mainstream" in the workplace.

Real robots are not "humanoid" for the most part. Each machine has been developed, mainly through trial and error, to perform a certain task, and the shape and operation conforms to that taskShakey was the first mobile robot to "think". In the 60s, when "Shakey" was created, these bulky "robots" were boxy, moved about on wheels, and did not conform to any set design strategy. The wheeled robot is used mainly today for detection and remote control. Police and fire departments, and especially the military, use robotic machines extensively to operate in hazardous locations where humans are at risk.

Robots are all around, but since they don't "look like" what is generally perceived to be "robots" they are largely ignored by the populace at large. Until the "mechanical men" of films and literature arrive, we have to be content with these largely unappealing automatons which cannot even speak. Human speech replication was achieved by the Texas Instruments company in 1976, and the technology was used on the TI learning product for children called the "Speak And Spell". Voice replication is currently more at use in telephone answering machines than on robotic machinery, however, and most of the "real robots" don't look, or talk, like humans.

Other uses for real robots, besides manufacturing and in police and military applications, are in the medical industry, where the use of robotics is practiced in operations where very small procedures have to be performed. Robots can fly, too. Spy planes are robotic. Any time remote control and sensing can be adapted to a vehicle, like an unmanned automobile, these are basically robotic. Robots have been around us for many years, but we don't feel that they have "arrived" until they look like us.Electro was a hit at the 1939 World's Fair Electro the Robot was a hit at the 1939 New York World's Fair because he resembled a human being with a head, a body, and arms and legs. Shakey didn't look like a human being, and everybody "remembers" Electro, but Shakey's history is shaky at best in the minds of the general populace.

 

 

 

 


A "Police Robot" combines the "arm" with a track and wheel base so it can move around, and perform a remote task when arriving at it's destination.
A "Military Robot"comes equipped with weaponry, and moves about like a small tank. These robots are designed to go where real men would most certainly be at risk of certain death.

The Friendly Robotics RL800 Robomower is convenient, easy, robotic, and clean--and it transforms the world of yard work! Push a single button and the Robomower cuts the grass on almost any surface--all by itself. Designed for one-time set-up, the included instructional video and well-written manual make set-up easy. It works in almost any lawn or garden environment, with wire sensors that prevent it from crossing the lawn perimeter. It even recycles clippings into nutrient-rich mulch for healthier grass.

Once you're set, and the mower is on, the machine simply senses the perimeter wire and uses three mulching blades to cut down everything inside the wire. Thanks to the onboard computer, the Robomower can even learn parts of your yard as it mows, making it quicker next time. The mower is quiet, automatic, and the mulching blades mean that when it's done you don't need to bag or rake.

The Robomower is outfitted with safety features. It won't run at all if it's flipped over with the blades exposed. Likewise, it reverses if its soft 360-degree bumpers encounter any foreign object. A theft deterrent system keeps the unit safe. The Robomower is very quiet compared to other lawn mowers. The mower works best on level yards as large as 3,200 square feet, with the grass reasonably tame to begin with. It is not designed for hilly yards. While it takes a full day to recharge the battery, a full charge is enough to mow most lawns. This is no lightweight toy. The robotic lawnmower weighs in at a hefty 98 pounds!

The Robomower is a smart idea for folks with physical conditions that make strenuous activities like mowing difficult, but it's also a great product for anyone who feels like there's always something better to do with a weekend afternoon than mowing the lawn. Rechargeable battery pack comes included.

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(From the Real Robots Section of the RoboBooks website.)

Websites used in the research and construction of this page include Adam Currie's History of Robots, Real Robots in the Home from Robobooks.The Computer History Timeline, and the Wikpedia Free Online Encyclopedia.

 

 

 

 

 

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