Building robots is all about 21st century technology

Why we want to build robots - and why we care

The word robot is commonly defined as a mechanical device capable of per-forming human tasks, or behaving in a human-like manner. No argument here.  The description certainly fits.

But to the robotics experimenter, “robot” has a completely different meaning. A robot is a special brew of motors, solenoids, wires, and assorted electronic odds and ends, a marriage of mechanical and electronic gizmos. Taken together, the parts make a half-living but wholly personable creature that can vacuum the floor, serve drinks, protect the family against intruders and fire, entertain, educate, and lots more. In fact, there’s almost no limit to what a well-designed robot can do.

In just about any science, it is the independent experimenter who first estab-lishes the pioneering ideas and technologies. Robert Goddard experimented with liquid-fuel rockets during World War I; his discoveries paved the way for modern-day space-flight. In the mid-1920s, John Logie Baird experimented with sending pictures of objects over the airwaves. His original prototypes, which transmitted nothing more than shadows of images, were a precursor to television and video.

Progress in the field of robots has been painfully slow. Robotics is still a cottage industry, even considering the special-purpose automatons now in wide use in automotive manufacturing. What does this mean for the robotics experimenter? There is plenty of room for growth, with a lot of discoveries yet to be made—perhaps more so than in any other high-tech discipline.

Robotics Universe is designed to help encourage the art and science of amateur robotics. It is not only the support site for several of my robotics and electronics books, but it is also a repository of useful robotics information.

We’re just relaunching the site, so things are a bit threadbare. But over the coming weeks we’ll be adding lots more content. Be sure to come back often!