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Robotics

Robotics is the design, manufacture, and operation of robot technology. This engineering science has grown along with the popularity of electronics and computers the past years. For people interested in science, computers, and robots this hobby can be a terrific fit.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Robotics resources. We have a Robotics forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Robotics how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Robotics books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Introduction


Over the course of the past sixty years, technology has been growing at an alarming rate. With that technology, the advancement of robots, mechanical machines, have began to also increase at the same rate. Although the idea of creating a robot sounds difficult, the fact of the matter is that anyone who is willing to dedicate their time to the hobby can make a robot of their very own. The fact is that the hobby of robot building has been around for many years now, and as the tools and equipment have been upgraded over the years, the hobby is now easier for new people to join the fascinating hobby.




The problem with the hobby is that there is a lot of technical information that, although isn’t a necessity, is important to have a basic understanding of. For those new to robotics, there are numerous books and videos that can get you started in the right direction along with numerous online websites featuring step by step YouTube videos. But to fully understand how robotics evolved from its mythological roots to its modern, yet forever growing, form. By understanding the post of robotics, one can come to respect the hobby that is robotics. We will look into that topic below in the section Robots of Antiquity.




How to get started?


After looking through the history of robotics,it seems like a hobby in the field is closed to anyone who doesn’t have an advanced university degree, but the truth couldn’t be farther from the truth. The world of robots is not only fascinating and fun, it is also available for anyone interested in the hobby. It was perhaps twenty years ago that robotics was only open to scientists and engineers, but the hobby is now wide open. The world of competitive robotics grows each year with competitions ranging from remote-controlled gladiator bots to autonomous soccer robots. You don`t need academic degrees to do this kind of research and development, but you will need a push in the right direction to get started in a robotics hobby.




The first thing new hobbyists need to decide is what sorts of robots would interest you as a hobby. The things necessary to build a battle robot for example are considerably different than what you might need to build a scientific exploration robot. Your next goal is to start assessing other robots to study their basic design. The study of robots began with the simple robot arms common in industrial applications and by combining this simple sort of programming and movement with other robotics, designers are able to build more complex machines that can detect and interact with their surroundings. You must also decide on specific functions necessary for movement, manipulation and sensation




The next part is going to be incredibly difficult for all new hobbyists because it requires research, research, and more research. You have to grasp the basic concepts of robotics by studying different aspects physics and computer programming. Sounds like a daunting task, but there are now countless websites available that breaks down the information for laymen to understand, and only the information relevant to robotics is included. The computer programming part is also relatively easy, but it does require the learning of computer languages, but without, your robot will just by a hunk of junk.




In the same realm of the above, you also need to learn and practice how to integrate functions using programmable microchips. Sounds like an impossibility, but with good research and lots of practice, it can all come together for you. You just have to always remember that despite the level of knowledge required for the hobby, nearly every other person in the hobby started out just like you. You just have to remember that it is always darkest at the dawn.




Like most “howto” articles, I cannot direct you step by step in order to build a robot due to the restraints of the article itself, but I also have a hard time simply stating the phrase “Build Robot using high quality tools”. That is not useful to anyone, and it makes the task seem utterly impossible. By doing a simple website search, you will come to multiple sites that teach you step by step how to build a robot. The steps will by composes of some of the above, the less advanced the robot the less likely you will need to know physics, computer programming languages, or micro chips, but you will learn the basics by creating a very simplistic robot, but a robot none the less. There are also countless books on the subject for all levels of experience, and the same goes for DVD instruction videos.




Basic Tools/Parts Required


As your skill in robotics grows, your collection of tools will grow in both number and specification. The following is a list of recommended tools needed to build the simplest of robots. They are generic enough that they can be used for most simple robot designs. Most of these tools may be able to be found around the house otherwise they will have to be picked up from a department or specialty store. You can also purchase kits online for reasonable sums of money. Always remember that you will get what you paid for, so if you spend a bit extra, you will have longer lasting tools and parts.




- wires


- screws


- screwdrivers to match screws


- 1.5V batteries (rechargeable NiMH are best)


- cardboard


- scotch/duct tape


- serial port on your computer


- if no serial port, get a usb to serial adaptor cable


- sharp scissors


- soldering iron


- solder roll (22 to 25 gauge)


- multimeter (not required, but good to have)


- safety goggles (you only have two eyes)




Robots and Literature


Robotic characters, androids (artificial men/women) or gynoids (artificial women), and cyborgs (humans with significant mechanical enhancements) have become a staple of science fiction. Not only are they staples in Science Fiction, some of the best stories and novels have been written about Robot that theorize and examine the human species.




The most prolific author of stories about robots was Isaac Asimov (1920–1992), who placed robots and their interaction with human society at the center of many of most of his works. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first passage in Asimov`s short story "Liar!" that mentions the First Law is the earliest recorded use of the word robotics. Asimov carefully considered the problem of the ideal set of instructions robots might be given in order to protect human life from both themselves and the nearly invincible robot artificial life, and arrived at his Three Laws of Robotics: a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; a robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. These were introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround", although foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. Later, Asimov added the Zeroth Law: "A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm"; the rest of the laws are modified sequentially to acknowledge this.




Another famous novel, which was later turned into a movie, is the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which is most commonly known as its movie title Blade Runner. It was in this novel that questioned whether or no artificial life was actually alive at all or just a series of random commands and prompts like that of a computer. The novel focuses around a group of rogue androids that are so near to humanity that they are indistinguishable to all but a few how must bring them to justice. By studying the human like androids, we come to learn how fragile and lost humanity truly is.




Conclusion


The hobby of robotics is one of the most difficult and demanding hobbies to get into, but the result of a homemade robot is priceless. The problem with this hobby over all others is the research one must do should they want to advance from the initial rank of beginner. Although you no longer need to be a scientist or physicist to get into a hobby like robotics, you do need to understand that basics. With the help of online instructions and videos, the goal of completing a robot is attainable. Through this course, and with supplementation of books and DVD’s, you can learn the information required to build your first robot, and from there you can build more complex robots of your own design. Since you can now purchase everything off of the internet or find it in your own home, there is nothing your imagination can think of that you can physically build. Like anything else, you have to dedicate yourself to the task at hand and practice as often as you can in order to accomplish all your goals.