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A Robot is a Virtual or Mechanical Artificial Agent

A Robot is a Virtual or Mechanical Artificial Agent

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Published by melvin tolson
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Published by: melvin tolson on Feb 02, 2009
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01/20/2011

 
A
robot
is avirtualor  mechanical artificialagent. In practice, it is usually an electro- mechanical systemwhich, by its appearance or movements, conveys a sense that it hasintentor agencyof its own. The word
robot 
can refer to both physical robots andvirtual software agents, but the latter are usually referred to as bots.
 There is no consensus onwhich machines qualify as robots, but there is general agreement among experts and the public that robots tend to do some or all of the following: move around, operate amechanical limb, sense and manipulate their environment, and exhibit intelligent behavior, especially behavior which mimics humans or other animals.Stories of artificial helpers and companions and attempts to create them have a longhistory but fully autonomousmachines only appeared in the 20th century. The first digitallyoperated and programmable robot, the Unimate, was installed in 1961 to lift hot  pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Today, commercial andindustrial robotsare in widespread use performing jobs more cheaply or with greater accuracy and reliability than humans. They are also employed for jobs which are toodirty, dangerous or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used inmanufacturing, assembly and packing, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery,weaponry, laboratory research, and mass production of consumer and industrial goods.
People have a generally positive perception of the robots they actually encounter.Domestic robotsfor cleaning and maintenance are increasingly common in and aroundhomes. There is anxiety, however, over the economic impact of automation and the threatof robotic weaponry, anxiety which is not helped by the depiction of many villainous,intelligent, acrobatic robots in popular entertainment. Compared with their fictionalcounterparts, real robots are still benign, dim-witted and clumsy.
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Defining characteristics
KITT is mentally anthropomorphic, while ASIMO is physically anthropomorphicWhile there is no single correct definition of "robot",
 a typical robot will have several or  possibly all of the following properties.
It is artificially created.
It can senseits environment, and manipulateor interactwith things in it.
It has some ability to make choices based on the environment, often usingautomatic control or a preprogrammed sequence.
It moves with one or more axes of rotationor translation. 
It makesdexterouscoordinatedmovements.
It moves without direct human intervention.
It appears to have intent or agency.The last property, the appearance of agency, is important when people are consideringwhether to call a machine a robot, or just a machine. (See anthropomorphismfor  examples of ascribing intent to inanimate objects.)
Mental agency
For robotic engineers, the physical appearance of a machine is less important than theway its actions arecontrolled. The more the control system seems to haveagencyof its own, the more likely the machine is to be called a robot. An important feature of agencyis the ability to make choices.
Aclockwork car is never considered a robot.
A remotely operated vehicle is sometimes considered a robot (or  telerobot
 
).
A car with an onboard computer, like Bigtrak , which could drive in a  programmable sequence, might be called a robot.
 
Aself-controlled car which could sense its environment and make drivingdecisions based on this information, such as the 1990sdriverless cars of Ernst Dickmannsor the entries in theDARPA Grand Challenge, would quite likely be called a robot.
Asentient car, like the fictionalKITT, which can make decisions, navigate freely and converse fluently with a human, is usually considered a robot.
Physical agency
However, for manylaymen, if a machine appears to be able to control its arms or limbs,and especially if it appearsanthropomorphicor  zoomorphic(e.g.ASIMOor Aibo), it would be called a robot.
A player pianois rarely characterized as a robot.
 
ACNCmilling machine is very occasionally characterized as a robot.
Afactory automation armis almost always characterized as an industrial robot.
An autonomous wheeled or tracked device, such as a self-guided rover or self-guided vehicle, is almost always characterized as a mobile robot or service robot.
Azoomorphic mechanical toy, like Roboraptor , is usually characterized as a robot.
 
A mechanical humanoid, like ASIMO,is almost always characterized as a robot, usually as a service robot.Even for a 3-axis CNC milling machine using the same control system as a robot arm, itis the arm which is almost always called a robot, while the CNC machine is usually just amachine. Having eyes can also make a difference in whether a machine is called a robot,since humans instinctively connect eyes with sentience. However, simply beinganthropomorphic is not a sufficient criterion for something to be called a robot. A robotmust do something; an inanimate object shaped like ASIMO would not be considered arobot.
] Definitions

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