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Ward's World+MGH_Robotics

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1 Robotics Article by: William A. Gruver, School of Engineering Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Access to this content is available to Ward's World readers for free from McGraw Hill's AccessScience, an award-winning, digital STEM resource that provides immediate, authoritative answers to students' thirst for scientific knowledge on topics such as climate change, virology, pollution, and more. Ward's World and McGraw Hill have partnered to offer educators a no-obligation, free trial subscription to this product. Request your free trial today and discover how valuable AccessScience can be for you and your students. A field of engineering concerned with the development and ap- plication of robots, and computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. There are many types of robotic systems, including robotic manipulators, robotic hands, mobile robots, walking robots, aids for disabled persons, humanoid robots, telerobots, and micro-electro-mechanical systems (Fig. 1). The term "robotics" has been broadly interpreted. It includes research and engineering activities involving the design and development of robotic systems. Planning for the use of industrial robots in manufac- turing or evaluation of the economic impact of robotic automation can also be viewed as robotics. This breadth of usage arises from the inter- disciplinary nature of robotics, a field involving mechanisms, comput- ers, control systems, actuators, and software. Mechanisms Robots are programmable devices or systems that produce mechanical motion that, in most cases, results in manipulation or locomotion. For example, industrial robots (Fig. 2) manipulate parts or tools to perform manufacturing tasks such as material handling, welding, spray paint- ing, or assembly; automated guided vehicles are used for transport- ing materials in factories and warehouses. Telerobotic mechanisms provide astronauts with large manipulators for remotely performing spacecraft maintenance. Walking machines explore active volcanoes. Mechanical characteristics for robotic mechanisms include degrees of freedom of movement, size and shape of the operating space, stiffness and strength of the structure, lifting capacity, velocity, and acceleration under load. Performance measures include repeatability and accuracy of positioning, speed, and freedom from vibration. + ward ' s science Key Concepts • Robotics is a branch of engineering concerned with the development and application of automated machines. • Robots are widely used in manufacturing, prosthetic mechanisms, and space exploration. • Many robots are equipped with sensory systems to gather information from the environment. • As a field, robotics advocates the use of intelligent systems that can learn, reason, and modify components of a configuration. Fig. 1: A dexterous humanoid robot, called a robonaut, built at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to work alongside humans in space. (Credit: NASA)

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