what is a robot

by Luke Hazlewood

Where did the term 'Robot' come from?

The word robot was coined by artist Josef Čapek, the brother of famed Czechoslovakian author Karel Čapek. Karel Čapek was, among other things, a science fiction author before there was something officially known as science fiction, in subject matter along the same vein as George Orwell. He introduced the word in a play called R.U.R. The full title translating into English as Rossum’s Universal Robots, which debuted in January of 1921.


Why do we have robots?

Robots have been used in various facets of life for a variety of reasons. To begin with, robots have been used to reduce the human effort in order to save labor and minimize cost. The work which 10 laborers will perform in one day, a robot can finish in a day. It obviously means reduction of costs drastically.


What are the main components of a robot?

1. Actuation:

Actuation is the "muscles" of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy into movement. The most popular actuators are electric motors.

2. Motors:

The vast majority of robots use electric motors, including bushed and brushies DC motors.

3. Stepper motors:

Stepper motors do not spin freely like DC motors; they rotate in discrete steps, under the command of a controller. This makes them easier to control.

4. Piezo Motors:

A recent alternative to DC Motors are piezo motors or ultrasonic motors. Tiny piezoceramic elements, vibrating many thousands of times per second, cause linear or rotary motion.

5. Air Muscles:

The air muscle in a simple yet powerful device for providing a pulling force. It behaves in a very similar way to a biological muscle; it can be used to construct robots with a similar muscle/skeleton system to an animal.

6. Electroactive polymers:

Are classes of plastics which change shape in response to electric stimulation.

7. Elastic Nanotubes:

The absence of defects in nanotubes enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent.

8. Manipulation:

Robots work in the real world require some way to manipulate objects; pick up, modify, destroy or otherwise have an effect. Thus, the hands, of a robot are often referred to as end effectors. Most robots arms are replaceable effectors, each allowing them to perform some small range of tasks. Some have a fixed manipulator which cannot be replaced, while a few have one very general purpose manipulator.


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The Pros and Cons of Robots

  1. Cost: The most obvious advantage of robots is their cost. Robots are cheaper than most human counterparts, and their costs are still decreasing.
  2. Abilities: Robotic abilities, what robots can do, are now extremely vast and growing.
  3. Productivity: Robots do not tire and can work very long hours without service or maintenance. As a result, robots can be significantly more productive than people.
  4. Precision: Robots can be much more precise than people. For instance, robots should not tremble or shake as human hands do. Furthermore, robots can have much smaller and versatile moving parts than people. As a result, robots have even performed medical surgeries, because they can be more precise than people.
  5. Strength: Without a doubt, robots can be significantly stronger than people.
  6. Speed: Additionally, robots can be significantly faster than people too.
  7. Size: Robots can come in any size. Whatever size needed for any task can be created.
  8. Environment: Robots can be designed to work in extremely harsh environments, such as in space, without air, underwater, fire, etc. Thus, robots can be used instead of people when human safety is a concern.
  9. Dangerous and Unwanted Work: Finally, robots can do jobs that people are unwilling to do. For instance, many robotic probes have been sent throughout the solar system to never return back to Earth. I don’t think many people would be willing to do those types of jobs.
  10. Warfare: Using robots in warfare eliminates putting more people at risk and has proven to be very successful.

The Disadvantages of Robots
  1. Jobs: In my opinion, the biggest issue with using robots is the huge loss of jobs for people. Basically, robots have eradicated a wide range of middle class jobs in several industries, such as car manufacturing.

  2. Limited Functionality: Robots are very good at doing perfectly defined jobs, however robots typically do not handle the unexpected as well as people do.

  3. Lack of Intelligence: Since robots are not intelligent or sentient, robots can never improve the results of their jobs outside of their predefined programming. In other words, robots do not think. At least, not yet.

  4. Lack of Emotions or Conscience: Similarly, robots do not have emotions or conscience; therefore, robots lack empathy and all of the advantages that come with it. As a result, this limits how robots can help and interact with people.

  5. Colonization: While robots can be sent to other planets and distance moons to help colonize them, they cannot build an independent functioning society.

  6. Dangerous: Robots can be extremely dangerous. Whether robots are or designed for warfare, robots can be very hazardous to people.