The word robot is derived from the word Robota, which is a Czech word that means ‘forced work or labor’. Today, of course, the word means machines that are made to perform a task usually done by humans. The “robot brain” is run by a computer program, and the robot typically has a sensor that’s used to transmit data to the machine about its surroundings. The motors, grippers, wheels, gears and pistons are powered by water, air or electricity; all components which together allow the robot to move. Those are the basics, but robots in today’s world are far from basic.
The robots created in the 21st century are sometimes bewilderingly technology advanced, and their uses are sometimes questionable but always fascinating. Some are used for educational purposes; others are used in search and rescue events. Different types of robots are manufactured for different tasks, of course, with some made to carry out a simple task like vacuuming a floor and some complex robotic devices employed in such missions as finding explosives at a war zone. Once upon a time, we feared that robots might take over humans; these days, as we coexist with robots and maximise their capabilities by integrating them into our lives, it seems we’re more indefinably frightened of the seemingly limitless capabilities and knowledge of the abstract ‘world wide web’. Humanoid robotic inventions are still a little controversial, but the following 10 robots showcase the many and delightful possibilities of our robotic friends.
10. 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit
This 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit can be easily transformed into 14 different robotic creatures. The innovative unit system comes with a multitude of functional and comical movements, and it doesn’t use any external power source; it’s solar-powered! This is an innovative product children can use to develop a knack for creating new and exciting things. This technology-savvy invention can build a boat that floats, a tail-wagging dog and even a crawling beetle.
9. Shakey the Robot
Shakey the robot was one of the first robots created that’s used as a general-purpose mobile robot. It took four years for Charles Rosen to create this robot, from 1966 through 1972. It’s, incredibly, competent enough to ‘reason’ about its actions; it’s capable of breaking down a command by analyzing its semantics without being instructed. This technology savvy robot was developed through an SRI International Research institute project around natural language processing and computer vision, and it utilizes physical action and logical reasoning to carry out a command.
8. STAIR – The Stanford AI Robot
This robot, after the initial investment, levels out a lot cheaper than paying a maid a monthly salary. This unique bot can grasp and carry things; he can prepare a simple meal, and even load and unload a dishwasher. STAIR would be a welcome addition to anyone who has been debilitated by illness (or, in our case, laziness…).
7. Robot Violinist
Can’t afford to hire a renowned violinist? You can call on the robot violinist for your next family event, if that’s your thing. You can choose any music genre your guests desires – it’s all readily available for your listening pleasure from this automated virtuoso. The robot violinist will play a fine rendition of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and even your favorite rap or pop song!
6. The Rover
$2.5 billion is the total cost to put a rover on the Gale Crater on Mars. The development of this robot has been facilitated by (who else) the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The rover is a car sized robot that’s used to explore Mars’ geology and climate. Dubbed “Curiosity”, it was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 12, 2011, and landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. Curiosity was placed on Aeolis Palus, a Gale Crater on Mars. It was a two-year mission originally, that has been indefinitely extended. It’s lucky Curiosity has no family waiting for him back on Earth…
5. The PackBots
The US military introduced the PackBots in 2001, manufactured by iROBOT. They’re made with intensive precision and are equipped to search buildings, bunkers and caves for deadly explosives; they find – and clear out – mines. The PackBot robots can run at 14km per hour and are now used in American military operations. They’re small and compact and come equipped with a GPS receiver with different sensors.
The brainchild of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), this is a very popular toy and one of the most-produced robots globally, retailing at about $300.00. The I-Sobot is enhanced with an entertainment package; it can perform over 200 moves, play an air guitar and walk. This unique piece of equipment can be controlled by voice commands or remote control, through its gyro sensors which the robot uses for balancing.
Hideki Kozima, who is a cognitive science researcher, developed My KeepOn to help study social communication especially in infants. As a researcher at the Miyagi University of Japan, Mr. Kozima researched and created this interactive toy designed to assist children develop interpersonal coordination and social development. It’s effective for children with neurodevelopmental disorders that impair verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, such as autistic children. The clever (and pretty cute) bot performs simple and natural non verbal interactions with children.
Since Google burst onto the scene back in the late 90s, this internet giant has created a wealth of innovative products. Now it’s taken on the task of creating robots. Google entered and won the 2013 DARPA Robotics challenge with the Schaft robot. It’s a humanoid robot that can perform numerous autonomous tasks, and can easily adapt to and work with any materials or tools available. It’s set to be useful in exploring disaster areas, as it can remove heavy debris in search and rescue operations. The robot is equipped with long arms and a squat torso and can move at 2km per hour. It’s very effective in manipulating and operating drills and safety valves, and this intelligent robot can also turn a doorknob to open closed doors.
1. Da Vinci – The Robotic Surgeon
Who needs a doctor with awkward bedside manner when the Da Vinci robotic surgeon is on call to attend to all your medical needs? OK, maybe not all – but this robot is certainly useful in the medical realm. This one-of-a-kind robot is designed to extend the surgeon’s abilities and can offer minimal surgical options for major surgery. The Da Vinci cannot move on its own, but is controlled by the surgeon. The technology this robot uses helps to easily translate the surgeon’s hand movements into its roboticized movements, allowing for performing precise laser surgery.