Robots have long been anthropomorphized – the basic idea many people have is that of Robby the robot from Lost in Space: a machine that looks a bit human, with arms, legs and a head with eyes and mouth, but still bears the mechanical trimmings that show it is clearly made of steel and silicon.
Before the concepts of self-modifying machines, there was the idea that a robot could – learn, improve and adopt the things.
In the future – one can imagine small insect-shaped robots scouring the rubble of fallen buildings looking for survivors, or exploring caves or pipes, and sending data back to their controllers.
“In few years, new creatures, a new species of humans will live among us. It is entirely possible that in the future they will make up the majority of humanity. They will be known as Robo sapiens.”
Clearly, people have a lot of beliefs about what robots will do, and this is justified because robots or bots, already do so many amazing things. They give back massages, vacuum entire rooms and play soccer with each other.
Not many people are aware that we are on the cusp of a new wave of Artificial Intelligence, which promises robots that will learn about their environment, change as the environment demands, improve themselves and possibly reproduce.
Whatever else robots may or may not do, we’re of a couple of things – they will learn; they will change themselves; they will evolve by themselves.
Robots have long been anthropomorphized – the basic idea many people have is that of Robby the robot from Lost in Space: a machine that looks a bit human, with arms, legs and a head with eyes and mouth, but still bears the mechanical trimmings that show it is clearly made of steel and silicone.
Since from the decades many new ROBOTS have been discovered and with improved skill & knowledge we have “HOMO SAPIENS” discovering “ROBO SAPIENS”. Let’s move to the past & know about the origin of “ROBO SAPIENS”.
What is Robot?
- A robot is a mechanical device that can perform physical tasks.
- A robot may act under the direct control of a human (eg. the robotic arm of the space shuttle) or autonomously under the control of a pre-programmed computer.
- Robots may be used to perform tasks that are too difficult for humans to do directly (e.g., the space shuttle arm) or may be used to automate repetitive tasks that can performed more cheaply by a robot than by them employment of a human (e.g., automobile production).
- The first known functioning robot was created in 1738 by Jacques de Vaucanson, who made an android that played the flute, as well as a mechanical duck that reportedly ate and defecated.
- Robots can be grouped as mobile robots and manipulator robots,which are static.
- Robots may be controlled directly by human (for eg.remotely-controlled bomb-disposal robots, robotic arms, or shuttles) or may act according to their own decision making ability, provided by artificial intelligence.
What is Robotics?
- According to the American Heritage Dictionary “ROBOTICS is the science or study of the technology associated with the design, construction, theory, and application of robots”.
- Robotics requires a working knowledge of electronics, mechanics, and software and a person working in the field has become known as a roboticist.
How Robots Look Like?
- The structure of a robot is usually mostly mechanical and can be called chain (its functionality being similar to the skeleton of a body).
- The chain is formed of links (its bones), actuators (its muscles) and joints (which may allow much more freedom of movement than the hinge joints of the human skeleton).
- Additional components may include sensors to give information about the surroundings or the robot itself (e.g. the position of its joints) and motors to move the actuators.
Why Do We Need Robots?
- Robots are also useful in environments which are unpleasent or dangerous for humans to work in, for example. the cleaning of toxic waste, bomb disposal, work in space or underwater and in mining.
- Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are moveble robots that used in large facilities such as warehouses, hospitals and container ports, for the movement of goods, or even for safety and security patrols. Such vehicles follow markers or guides to navigate around the location and can be programmed to move between places to deliver goods or patrol a certain area.
- The robotic arms that surgeons use to perform delicate operations, though does not examine them in depth. They give the best example of how robotics can be applied in everyday life.
- Domestic robots are now available for performing simple tasks such as vacuum cleaning and grass cutting. Industrial robots, humanoid, military robots etc. prove to be useful in accomplishing task beyond human capability!
A Generation Next: Robo Sapiens
Bionic Man to Be Called Robo Sapiens?
- “In another 30 years, new creatures, a new species of humans will live among us. It is entirely possible that in the future they will make up the majority of humanity. They will be known as robo-sapiens.”
- Robotics is rapidly embracing ideas from other disciplines, leading to new techniques and sub-technologies.
- Honda has its Asimo humanoid, and Sony has its robotic Aibo dog, both of which are impressive.
- The Asimo and the Aibo are ‘static’ bots in the sense that they do not dynamically adapt to their environment; what they learn is only facts that are added to their knowledge base. These facts do help them function better, but cannot help them evolve in any way.
- Asimo and Aibo-style research will not drive the future; it’s evolutionary and animal-mimicking techniques that will dominate.
- Animal-inspired robotics aims at emulating certain animals, especially insects and the like. Biologists and engineers have worked together at producing bot versions of popular insects such as flies and cockroaches.
- The three bots at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, United States, are huge, they look like cockroaches and they do-jump, fly, and so on. The goal of this experiment was to build machines that could go where humans won’t-inside nuclear reactors, or into a fire.
- Spyder, named after the homonymic creature it mimics, is designed to move using the smallest possible amount of energy.
- Robots may have many applications in the future – one can imagine small insect-shaped robots scouring the rubble of fallen buildings looking for survivors, or exploring caves or pipes, and sending data back to their controllers.
- The solar powered mechanical insect soaks up the energy from the sun’s rays and gradually learns to walk. It is called so because of the movement called ‘beam’ (for biology, electronics, aesthetics and mechanics) to popularize simple robots.
- The inspiration from biology is driven by laziness: why engineer a creature when nature has already done it for us?
- Creating such robotic creatures do help to know what actually happens when real animals do similar things. However, animal robots are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the New Wave. They may teach but do not learn.
- Artificial life comes from the idea that complex systems such as life, arise from simple interactions between entities in suitable environments.
- A team at University of Zurich, Switzerland, created computer simulations with muscles, senses and nervous system. Actually, there is a whole slew of technologies and disciplines that will create smart bots of the future possible: traditional robotics, neural networks, evolutionary algos, programmable hardware & many others.
Robots That Learn
Before the concepts of self-modifying machines, there was the idea that a robot could learn, improve and adopt the things. An example is Adam, a learning robot developed at Monash University, Australia. A niche environment called Eden was developed for Adam, expecting that he would evolve & learn there .
- In march 2002, at Magna Science Adventure Center in Rotherham, England, robots were divided into predators and prey, in a specially constructed environment.
- The aim of the experiment was to see if and how the community of bots would evolve an ecosystem.
- In August 2003 – in an experiment the prey robots would have to feed by charging their solar batteries by sitting under artificial trees made of light. The predators would feed on the prey by hunting them down, immobilizing them, and inserting an ‘energy-sucking fang’ into a specific spot on them to transfer battery power to themselves. This may sound a little grey, but it’s as simple as that. At Rotherham, predator and prey robots struggled for survival, feeding and hunting, with their creators hoping they would succeed in building a civilization.
How Would They Evolve?
- If the robot could evolve, a generic design combined with designer specifications would do, and the required ‘global’ behavior might emerge. Robots could be mass produced and allowed to do their duties in special environments. The good ones will be used, and the bad one’s simply thrown away!
- Quite simply, by the Darwinian principle: each bot would upload its genes, when they changed to a central server. And in the next generation, only those bots that lived long enough would have their genes added to the gene pool.
- A robot powered by a Godel machine will be able to modify its code, as soon as it proves that its performance will improve with the modified code.
- As an example, application of Godel machines, Schmidhuber mentions a robot that interacts with a partially unknown environment, trying to find hidden gasoline deposts to occasionally refuel its tank. Such a robot, if it had a Godel machine for a controller, would be able to optimize itself so that it lives the longest it can, by refueling itself optimally.
- Artificial evolution was previously relegated to software simulations, carried out on neural network configurations, and that was considered enough. But as Adrian Thompson of the University of Sussex -a pioneer in the field of Evolutionary Robotics (ER)- points out
- “There are three reasons why we would want hardware to modify itself
First, hardware evolution can deal with real-world physics, which is difficult to analyze or model in simulations.
Second, when it comes to interacting entities, it is difficult to precisely model size, location, shape and so on in simulation.
Third, the characteristics and interactions of the evolving entities do not remain the same with time-physical evolution will be able to get round this problem.”
- Evolving robots know what they are and they better know what they are supposed to do. They can change themselves. They are alive!
Benefits of Robo Sapiens
- The Robo sapiens promise huge benefits to the society.
- The military wants them to shoulder a soldier’s burden. They fearlessly tack dangerous work like defusing bombs. They can clean up waste sites, because they sneer at radioactivity and toxic chemicals.
- The NASA use the ‘nomads’ to explore mars,
on a venture into the crats of volcanos in Alaska and Antarctica. The next generation of spacewalker could fix fault satellites and space stations.
- The metal humanoid known as robonaut has developed an impressive level of dexterity.
within a few years similar robonauts could work outside the confines of a spacecraft, performing routine maintenance alongside astronauts. They can care for elderly people. Service robots will deliver hospital food trays.
- Following in the toy’s wake they could be all manner of household robots, from ‘dogs’ to ‘vacuum cleaners’.
1. Some Robotic vacuum cleaners are:
There are also robots for cleaning swimming pools.
2. Other Educational Robotics include:
3. Military robots
- Military robots are autonomous or remote-controlled devices designed for military applications. Predator drone are capable of taking surveillance photographs.
- A most profound fear is that robots might be dangerous because they might replicate; that we may not survive our encounter with the new species, and so on.
- The threat is that robots would become conscious and act on their own volition; the blessing is that robots could accomplish many boring, repetitive and dangerous tasks for us.
- Virtual reality will mix with reality, with some consequences that sound stranger than fiction. In the next 20 years, machine intelligence will evolve so rapidly that it will surpass human intelligence.
- Some AI machines will be very humanlike so much so that robots will claim to be conscious, and we’ll have to believe them.