Robots are everywhere. They can be found in hospitals and hotels. In farms and construction sites. Brick and mortar retailers and e-commerce distribution centers. In the air, in the sea, on the ground and even underground, as we saw recently in the DARPA challenge.
But what is a robot? There have been plenty of philosophical discussions on this, and probably no shortage of flame wars. We like this definition from IEEE:
A robot is an autonomous machine capable of sensing its environment,carrying out computations to make decisions, and performing actions
in the real world.
So right there in the definition is the A-word: autonomy. Since nomos is Greek for “law”, something autonomous makes its own laws. Pretty cool, right?
However, autonomy is relative. We’re not just talking about being constrained by the laws of physics, but by the limits of AI, sensing technology, computing power, servos, etc. In essence, the guts and brains of robots can only go so far with current technology.