Main article: Articulated robot
Articulated robots are the most common industrial robots. They look like a human arm, which is why they are also called robotic arm or manipulator arm. Their articulations with several degrees of freedom allow the articulated arms a wide range of movements.
Main article: Cartesian coordinate robot
Cartesian robots, also called rectilinear, gantry robots, and x-y-z robots have three prismatic joints for the movement of the tool and three rotary joints for its orientation in space.
To be able to move and orient the effector organ in all directions, such a robot needs 6 axes (or degrees of freedom). In a 2-dimensional environment, three axes are sufficient, two for displacement and one for orientation.
The cylindrical coordinate robots are characterized by their rotary joint at the base and at least one prismatic joint connecting its links. They can move vertically and horizontally by sliding. The compact effector design allows the robot to reach tight work-spaces without any loss of speed.
Spherical coordinate robots only have rotary joints. They are one of the first robots to have been used in industrial applications. They are commonly used for machine tending in die-casting, plastic injection and extrusion, and for welding.
Main article: SCARA robot
SCARA is an acronym for Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm. SCARA robots are recognized by their two parallel joints which provide movement in the X-Y plane. Rotating shafts are positioned vertically at the effector. SCARA robots are used for jobs that require precise lateral movements. They are ideal for assembly applications.
Main article: Delta robot
Delta robots are also referred to as parallel link robots. They consist of parallel links connected to a common base. Delta robots are particularly useful for direct control tasks and high maneuvering operations (such as quick pick-and-place tasks). Delta robots take advantage of four bar or parallelogram linkage systems.
Furthermore, industrial robots can have a serial or parallel architecture.
Main article: Serial manipulator
Serial architectures a.k.a Serial manipulators are the most common industrial robots and they are designed as a series of links connected by motor-actuated joints that extend from a base to an end-effector. SCARA, Stanford manipulators are typical examples of this category.
A parallel manipulator is designed so that each chain is usually short, simple and can thus be rigid against unwanted movement, compared to a serial manipulator. Errors in one chain’s positioning are averaged in conjunction with the others, rather than being cumulative. Each actuator must still move within its own degree of freedom, as for a serial robot; however in the parallel robot the off-axis flexibility of a joint is also constrained by the effect of the other chains. It is this closed-loop stiffness that makes the overall parallel manipulator stiff relative to its components, unlike the serial chain that becomes progressively less rigid with more components.
While robots have often been described as possessing social qualities (see for example the tortoises developed by William Grey Walter in the 1950s), social robotics is a fairly recent branch of robotics. Since the early 1990s artificial intelligence and robotics researchers have developed robots which explicitly engage on a social level. Notable researchers include Cynthia Breazeal, Tony Belpaeme, Aude Billard, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Yiannis Demiris, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Maja Mataric, Javier Movellan, Brian Scassellati and Dean Weber. Also related is the Kansai engineering movement in Japanese science and technology — for social robotics, see especially work by Takayuki Kanda, Hideki Kozima, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Micho Okada, Tomio Watanabe, and P. Ravindra S. De Silva.
The evolution of social robots began with autonomous robots designed to have little to no interaction with humans. Essentially, they were designed to take on what humans could not. Technologically advanced robots were sent out to handle hazardous conditions and the assignments that could potentially put humans in danger, like exploring the deep oceans or the surface of Mars. Advancing these original intentions, robots are continually being developed to be inserted into human-related settings to establish their social aspect and access their influence on human interactions. Over time, social robots have been advanced to begin to have their own role in society.
Designing an autonomous social robot is particularly challenging, as the robot needs to correctly interpret people’s action and respond appropriately, which is currently not yet possible. Moreover, people interacting with a social robot may hold very high expectancies of its capabilities, based on science fiction representations of advanced social robots. As such, many social robots are partially or fully remote controlled to simulate advanced capabilities. This method of (often covertly) controlling a social robot is referred to as a Mechanical Turk or Wizard of Oz, after the character in the L. Frank Baum book. Wizard of Oz studies are useful in social robotics research to evaluate how people respond to social robots.
A sensor is a device that measures some attribute of the world. Being one of the three primitives of robotics (besides planning and control), sensing plays an important role in robotic paradigms.
Sensors can be classified according to the physical process with which they work or according to the type of measurement information that they give as output. In this case, the second approach was used.
Proprioceptive sensors sense the position, orientation, and speed of the humanoid’s body and joints, along with other internal values.
In human beings, the otoliths and semi-circular canals (in the inner ear) are used to maintain balance and orientation. Additionally, humans use their own proprioceptive sensors (e.g. touch, muscle extension, limb position) to help with their orientation. Humanoid robots use accelerometers to measure the acceleration, from which velocity can be calculated by integration; tilt sensors to measure inclination; force sensors placed in robot’s hands and feet to measure contact force with environment; position sensors that indicate the actual position of the robot (from which the velocity can be calculated by derivation); and even speed sensors.
Arrays of tactels can be used to provide data on what has been touched. The Shadow Hand uses an array of 34 tactels arranged beneath its polyurethane skin on each finger tip. Tactile sensors also provide information about forces and torques transferred between the robot and other objects.
Vision refers to processing data from any modality which uses the electromagnetic spectrum to produce an image. In humanoid robots it is used to recognize objects and determine their properties. Vision sensors work most similarly to the eyes of human beings. Most humanoid robots use CCD cameras as vision sensors.
Sound sensors allow humanoid robots to hear speech and environmental sounds, akin to the ears of the human being. Microphones are usually used for the robots to convey speech.
One source of inspiration for Asimov’s robots was the Zoromes, a race of mechanical men that featured in a 1931 short story called “The Jameson Satellite”, by Neil R. Jones. Asimov read this story at the age of 11, and acknowledged it as a source of inspiration in Before the Golden Age (1975), an anthology of 1930s science fiction in which Asimov told the story of the science fiction he read during his formative years. In Asimov’s own words:
It is from the Zoromes, beginning with their first appearance in “The Jameson Satellite,” that I got my own feeling for benevolent robots who could serve man with decency, as these had served Professor Jameson. It was the Zoromes, then, who were the spiritual ancestors of my own “positronic robots,” all of them, from Robbie to R. Daneel.
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