Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. These technologies deal with automated machines that can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes, or resemble humans in appearance, behavior, and/or cognition. Many of today's robots are inspired by nature contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.

The concept of creating machines that can operate autonomously dates back to classical times, but research into the functionality and potential uses of robots did not grow substantially until the 20th century. Throughout history, robotics has been often seen to mimic human behavior, and often manage tasks in a similar fashion. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as technological advances continue, research, design, and building new robots serve various practical purposes, whether domestically, commercially, or militarily. Many robots do jobs that are hazardous to people such as defusing bombs, mines and exploring shipwrecks. Read more

In The News

Deep-learning vision system anticipates human interactions using videos of TV shows   PhysOrg - June 21, 2016
When we see two people meet, we can often predict what happens next: a handshake, a hug, or maybe even a kiss. Our ability to anticipate actions is thanks to intuitions born out of a lifetime of experiences. Machines, on the other hand, have trouble making use of complex knowledge like that. Computer systems that predict actions would open up new possibilities ranging from robots that can better navigate human environments, to emergency response systems that predict falls, to Google Glass-style headsets that feed you suggestions for what to do in different situations. This week researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have made an important new breakthrough in predictive vision, developing an algorithm that can anticipate interactions more accurately than ever before.

A self-organizing thousand-robot swarm   Science Daily - August 15, 2014

The first thousand-robot flash mob has assembled at Harvard University. Just as trillions of individual cells can assemble into an intelligent organism, or a thousand starlings can form a great flowing murmuration across the sky, the Kilobots demonstrate how complexity can arise from very simple behaviors performed en masse. To computer scientists, they also represent a significant milestone in the development of collective artificial intelligence.

1st Fully Bionic Man Walks, Talks and Breathes   Live Science - October 19, 2013

He walks, he talks and he has a beating heart, but he's not human - he's the world's first fully bionic man.

S.Korea schools get robot English teachers   PhysOrg - December 28, 2010

Almost 30 robots have started teaching English to youngsters in a South Korean city in a pilot project designed to nurture the nascent robot industry. Engkey, a white, egg-shaped robot developed by the Korea Institute of Science of Technology (KIST), began taking classes Monday at 21 elementary schools in the southeastern city of Daegu.

Robot's space debut 'giant leap for tinmankind'   PhysOrg - November 2, 2010

Space is about to get its first humanoid from planet Earth. Robonaut 2 - affectionately known as R2 - is hitching a one-way ride to the International Space Station this week aboard the final flight of space shuttle Discovery. It's the first humanoid robot ever bound for space, a $2.5 million mechanical and electrical marvel that NASA hopes one day will assist flesh-and-bone astronauts in orbit.

  Robots learning from experience   PhysOrg - August 24, 2010

Robots that develop emotions in interaction with humans   PhysOrg - August 12, 2010
The first prototype robots capable of developing emotions as they interact with their human caregivers and expressing a whole range of emotions have been finalized by researchers. Developed as part of the interdisciplinary project FEELIX GROWING (Feel, Interact, eXpress: a Global approach to development with Interdisciplinary Grounding), funded by the European Commission and coordinated by Dr. Canamero, the robots have been developed so that they learn to interact with and respond to humans in a similar way as children learn to do it, and use the same types of expressive and behavioral cues that babies use to learn to interact socially and emotionally with others.

Pictures: "Ghost Looking" Robot Lets User Cuddle, Chat Remotely   National Geographic - August 6, 2010

A new robot made in Japan is giving new meaning to the idea of a "ghost" in the shell. The Telenoid R1, which debuted in Osaka this week, is a minimalist humanoid robot controlled remotely via a computer-mounted camera. The Telenoid can move its head and wiggle its arms using motors in its ghostly body. Above, the robot relays a teacher's head movements and voice to a young girl during a demonstration. Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro designed the robot to be a low-cost surrogate for teachers and social workers, allowing for remote interactions while creating the impression of a person in the room.

Robot butler for astronauts is a hit on Twitter   MSNBC - August 5, 2010

The first humanoid robot headed for space is taking Twitter by storm by posting updates on its coming spaceflight. NASA robot handlers have been posting messages for the new space automaton, called Robonaut 2, under the name @AstroRobonaut since late last month and had gained more than 7,600 followers.

Roadmap for robot helpers   PhysOrg - August 5, 2010
The humble robot cleaning your floor heralds a wave of robot helpers, from miners to surgeons, that could be joining us in the coming decades. How should the industry prepare for these new markets? Since the 1980s industrial robots have become commonplace and in recent years cleaning robots have started tidying up in our homes. In 2007 there were an estimated 6.5 million robots around the world and that figure is projected to rise to 18 million by 2011. Europe has a quarter of the world market for industrial robots but how can it ensure that it maintains its position in the future?

  Shape-shifting robots   PhysOrg - August 5, 2010
By combining origami and electrical engineering, researchers at MIT and Harvard are working to develop the ultimate reconfigurable robot -- one that can turn into absolutely anything. The researchers have developed algorithms that, given a three-dimensional shape, can determine how to reproduce it by folding a sheet of semi-rigid material with a distinctive pattern of flexible creases. To test out their theories, they built a prototype that can automatically assume the shape of either an origami boat or a paper airplane when it receives different electrical signals.

  Robot climbs walls   PhysOrg - August 5, 2010
Wielding two claws, a motor and a tail that swings like a grandfather clock's pendulum, a small robot named ROCR ("rocker") scrambles up a carpeted, 8-foot wall in just over 15 seconds - the first such robot designed to climb efficiently and move like human rock climbers or apes swinging through trees.

Robots get artificial skin   PhysOrg - July 1, 2010
Robots are breaking barriers: Long banished behind steel barriers, they are entering new fields of application such as the manufacturing, household and healthcare sectors. The requisite safety can be provided by a tactile sensor system, which can be integrated in a floor or applied directly to robots as an artificial skin. A mobile robot carefully transports a sample through a biotech lab where it is surrounded by the routine hustle and bustle. Lab technicians are conversing with one another and performing tests. One technician inadvertently runs into the robot, which stops moving immediately. An artificial skin covering the robot makes this possible.

  Junior, the robotic car, learns to slide park   PhysOrg - May 11, 2010

  Researchers study knife-wielding robots   PhysOrg - May 10, 2010

  CHARLI, a full-sized humanoid robot   PhysOrg - April 29, 2010
As CHARLI takes his first steps, anxious onlookers stand ready to catch him if he falls. His stride is short, but upright, as one foot is placed in front of the other in the basement of Virginia TechÕs Randolph Hall. He is a 5-foot tall humanoid robot built by graduate and undergraduate students with the Virginia Tech College of EngineeringÕs Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa).

  PETMAN robot to closely simulate soldiers   PhysOrg - April 28, 2010

freely walking biped robot the size and shape of a human being is being developed to realistically simulate a soldier wearing protective clothing.

  WANDA provides colloidal nanocrystals for electronics   PhysOrg - April 27, 2010

Berkeley Lab scientists have established a revolutionary nanocrystal-making robot, capable of producing nanocrystals with staggering precision. This one-of-a-kind robot, named WANDA, provides colloidal nanocrystals with custom-made properties for electronics, biological labeling and luminescent devices. Since this robot is controlled by software protocols, novice users can direct WANDA to perform complex workflows that traditionally require extensive chemistry experience.

Autom will tell dieters what they need to hear   PhysOrg - April 27, 2010
Imagine something between a computer game and a pet that helps makes you slim. One inventor did just that and came up with Autom - a robot that will look dieters in the eye and tell them what they need to hear. Users can have daily conversations with the 38-centimetre-tall (15-inch) robot, which will crunch calories and provide feedback and encouragement on their weight-loss progress. For those who hate manuals - there isn't one. Switch Autom on and it's ready to go.

S.Korean scientists develop walking robot maid   PhysOrg - January 18, 2010

Mahru-Z has a human-like body including a rotating head, arms, legs and six fingers plus three-dimensional vision to recognise chores that need to be tackled.

Japanese Store Selling Custom-Made Robots That Look Like Their Owners   PhysOrg - December 14, 2009
The robotic doppelgangers will be life-size humanoids that can even speak with a real person's (recorded) voice. Made of silicone, the robots will be able to move their upper bodies, although there are not many other details on their design or what they can or cannot do.

  Musical robots perform duets   PhysOrg - November 26, 2009

A flute playing robot unveiled by Waseda University last year has been joined by a robot saxophonist in a Classical music duet. The aim of the project was to design robots that could respond to each other's visual and aural cues.

  Robotic Hand That Senses Touch   PhysOrg - October 21, 2009
The Smart Hand is an intricate prosthesis that incorporates four motors and forty sensors designed to provide practical motion and senses to the person using it. This is the first device of its kind that sends signals back to the brain, allowing the user to have feelings in their fingers and hand. The Smart Hand takes advantage of the phantom limb syndrome which is the sensation amputees have that their missing body part is still attached.

Can Robots Make Ethical Decisions?   Live Science - September 17, 2009

This question has given rise to the issue of machine ethics and morality. As a practical matter, can a robot or computer be programmed to act in an ethical manner? Can a machine be designed to act morally?Isaac Asimov's famous fundamental Rules of Robotics are intended to impose ethical conduct on autonomous machines.Issues about ethical behavior are found in films like the 1982 movie Blade Runner. When the replicant Roy Batty is given the choice to let his enemy, the human detective Rick Deckard, die, Batty instead chooses to save him. A recent paper published in the International Journal of Reasoning-based Intelligent Systems describes a method for computers to prospectively look ahead at the consequences of hypothetical moral judgments.

Robots Reveal Insights into Evolution   PhysOrg - September 16, 2009
In an ironic twist to our understanding of life, robots may offer a greater degree of realism for studying some of the intricacies of natural selection and evolution than real organisms offer. In a recent study, scientists have used evolutionary robots to investigate the evolution of social information. Their results mirror theoretical predictions more closely than results from experiments with real organisms, and may provide an explanation for some of the observed variation in animal species.

  Military robot 'hops' over walls   BBC - September 15, 2009

Video footage has been released of a robot that can leap over obstacles more than 7.5m (25ft) high. Most of the time, the shoebox-sized robot - which is being developed for the US military - uses its four wheels to get around. But the Precision Urban Hopper can use a piston-actuated "leg" to launch it over obstacles such as walls or fences. The robot could boost the capabilities of troops and special forces engaged in urban warfare, say researchers.

Robots Learn to Lie   Live Science - August 24, 2009
Is it important that computers and robots tell us the truth? Or should they learn to lie - like their human makers? In an experiment performed in a Swiss laboratory, 10 robots with downward-facing sensors competed for "food" - a light-colored ring on the floor. At the other end of the space, a darker ring - "poison" - was placed. The robots earned points for how much time they spent near food as opposed to poison.

US military embraces robot 'revolution'   PhysOrg - August 13, 2009

Robots in the sky and on the ground are transforming warfare, and the US military is rushing to recruit the new warriors that never sleep and never bleed. The latest robotics were on display at an industry show this week at a naval airfield in Maryland, with a pilotless helicopter buzzing overhead and a "Wall-E" look-alike robot on the ground craning its neck to peer into a window. The chopper, the MQ-8B Fire Scout, is no tentative experiment and later this year will be operating from a naval frigate, the USS McInerney, to help track drug traffickers in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Navy officers said.

  Robot Learns to Smile and Frown   PhysOrg - July 8, 2009

Living Safely with Robots, Beyond Asimov's Laws   PhysOrg - June 22, 2009
"In 1981, a 37-year-old factory worker named Kenji Urada entered a restricted safety zone at a Kawasaki manufacturing plant to perform some maintenance on a robot. In his haste, he failed to completely turn it off. The robot's powerful hydraulic arm pushed the engineer into some adjacent machinery, thus making Urada the first recorded victim to die at the hands of a robot."

Space Robot Can Autonomously Reconfigure Itself   PhysOrg - June 15, 2009
A robot designed to work in space should ideally be a Jack of all trades, with the ability to perform a wide variety of tasks by itself. By having one robot that can handle many jobs, astronauts can cut down on weight in order to reduce launch cost. As presented in a recent study, a new type of reconfigurable robot can perform diverse tasks by changing its configuration, such as lengthening and twisting its arms, in a much simpler and more compact way than previous reconfigurable robots.

  Lost robot crosses city by asking directions   New Scientist - May 13, 2009

New Robot With Artificial Skin To Improve Human Communication   Science Daily - May 11, 2009
Work is beginning on a robot with artificial skin which is being developed as part of a project involving researchers at the University of Hertfordshire so that it can be used in their work investigating how robots can help children with autism to learn about social interaction.

Robots Replace Humans as the Great Explorers   Live Science - April 3, 2009
Human curiosity and competition launched the first men into space and to the moon, but robots have gone just about everywhere else in the solar system. There are good reasons for this - for starters, robots remain far better adapted to exploring the harsh environments of space and other planets. So now some experts suggest that human space explorers may eventually merge with machines to become a tougher breed.

First Robot Scientist Makes Gene Discovery   National Geographic - April 3, 2009
He can come up with a hypothesis, plan an experiment, reason about the results, and then plan his next steps. Now ADAM is the first robot but maybe not the last to have independently discovered new scientific information, according to scientists who recently built themselves the mechanical colleague.

Robot brings hope to kids with learning difficulties   PhysOrg - March 20, 2009
At a strip mall clinic in suburban Maryland, Kevin is at the unlikely intersection of new efforts to treat symptoms of autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders with robotics and computer work. Here, he scrambles onto a swivel chair to examine a half-meter- (1.6-feet-) tall robot on the table in front of him. Prodding four brightly-colored buttons near the robot's feet, he directs a cartoon version of the machine around a computer monitor, furtively glancing up at the real thing for encouragement.

Robot Madness: Creating True Artificial Intelligence   Live Science - March 18, 2009
Artificial intelligence in the form of Deep Blue may have beaten human chess champions, but don't expect robots to fetch you a beer from the fridge just yet. Robotic artificial intelligence (AI) mainly excels at formal logic, which allows it to sift through thousands of Web sites to match your Google search, or find the right chess move from hundreds of previous games. That becomes a different story when AI struggles to connect that abstract logic with real-world meanings, such as those associated with "beer" or "fridge handle."

Japanese Firms Start Testing Robots In Office Buildings   PhysOrg - February 7, 2009
The project is designed to provide various services by combining building infrastructure technologies and robot technologies. Robots will take on the role of receptionist, guards, office cleaners, etc and replace humans. For example, in the role of a receptionist, they will greet visitors, attend to them and show them to their destination.

Smart Robot Learns to Climb Mountains Live Science - July 12, 2007
The first climber to ascend the highest mountain in the solar system might be a robot rather than a human. The humble origins of such a mechanical pioneer? A robot that stumbles around a lot before it nimbly stalks the slopes. Before any mountaineering robots ever head off to space, they might help lead to better prosthetics for humans on Earth, scientists say.

Robot device mimics human touch BBC - June 9, 2006
A device which may pave the way for robotic hands that can replicate the human sense of touch has been unveiled. US scientists have created a sensor that can "feel" the texture of objects to the same degree of sensitivity as a human fingertip. The team says the tactile sensor could, in the future, aid minimally invasive surgical techniques by giving surgeons a "touch-sensation".

Female Android Debuts in S. Korea National Geographic - May 15, 2006

She can hold a conversation, make eye contact, and express joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness. But is she good with kids? These school-age tots seem to be making friends with EveR-1, a female android that made her debut this month in South Korea. The robot was built by Baeg Moon-hong, a senior researcher with the Division for Applied Robot Technology at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH) in Ansan, just south of Seoul.

Japanese develop 'female' android called Repliee Q1 BBC - July 27, 2005

Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet - a "female" android named Repliee Q1Expo. She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner. She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe. Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human. Repliee Q1Expo is not like any robot you will have seen before, at least outside of science-fiction movies.

Robo-docs boost London hospitals BBC - May 18, 2005

Patients at St Mary's Hospital in London are being seen by a medical robot as part of a new trial. "Sister Mary" glides between beds and allows the controlling doctor to visually examine and communicate with a patient from anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, a patient at London's Guy's Hospital has recently undergone a live kidney transplant surgery carried out by a robot - the UK's first. The da Vinci robot has also been used to remove bladders and repair hearts.

US robot builds copies of itself BBC May 11, 2005
US researchers have devised a simple robot that can make copies of itself from spare parts. Writing in Nature, the robot's creators say their experiment shows the ability to reproduce is not unique to biology.

Robot-Based System Detects Life In Chile's Atacama Desert Space Daily - March 2005

A unique rover-based life detection system developed by Carnegie Mellon University scientists has found signs of life in Chile's Atacama Desert. This marks the first time a rover-based automated technology has been used to identify life in this harsh region, which serves as a test bed for technology that could be deployed in future Mars missions

Japanese Hospitality Robots Debut At Expo Space Daily - March 9, 2005

Japan will welcome the millions of guests at the World Exposition opening this month with hosts trained to greet them in their language, entertain their children and perform rap music with them. The gracious hosts are robots.

The Wearable Robot BBC - December 10, 2004

The models are being positioned as so-called personal mobility devices, which have few limits. Built using environmentally friendly plant-based materials, the single passenger unit is equipped with intelligent transport system technologies that allow for safe autopilot driving in specially equipped lanes.

Tiny robot walker made from DNA BBC - May 6, 2004

Scientists have created a microscopic walking robot using only the building blocks of life: DNA. The tiny walker is only 10 nanometres long and has been described as a major step forward in nanotechnology. A New York University team created the robot using DNA legs that move along a footpath, which is also based on DNA. The legs move by detaching themselves from the footpath, moving along it and then reattaching themselves, New Scientist reports. DNA is an ideal material to build the robot from, because DNA chains easily pair up. By re-ordering the sequence of base pairs that make up the DNA strand, the scientists were able to control where each strand attached.