The world of science fiction has been a great contributor to our imaginations when it comes to how we think about robots, what they are and what they possibly could be. It is quite common to even invent in our minds robots that have not been invented as of yet, and this is as a result of what we read in science fiction books or what we see in science fiction TV shows and films. This is however not a bad thing, as scientists are always one step ahead in terms of their thoughts on what the next invention of robots could look like.
Without the in depth knowledge of robotics and what the subject is actually about, most people would explain robotics from what they have been able to see or read or hear from other people telling stories. And the layman’s approach to defining robotics would be to say out loud what we all thought at some point. That robotics involves the making of machines that can walk, talk and interact with other humans. So basically humanoids.
Even though this definition is not wrong, it is quite far from really explaining what robotics is, what it consists of or what it entails. It is true that humanoids or androids, which are robots that resemble human beings exist. However, this leaves out so many other types of robots which have been invented, some of which may have existed for longer and have been far much more popular than androids have been. This is of course in terms of their usefulness and what they can do.
Androids versus other robots
People hardly ever think of the other kinds of robots that are out there, some of which we use on a day to day basis like the smart robots in our smartphones and computers, or the drones that people enjoy flying in the air so much. Other people do not even know about the existence of industrial robots such as the robot arm or the palletizing robot. And even in the off chance that they knew about them or if they happen to have seen them, people would more likely refer to them as industrial machines and not robots.
However, people cannot be blamed for this presumption that robots only look a certain way or behave in a certain way, because that is the extent to which the average person has been exposed to. And we have to admit, androids are super cool to look at and have around, because it is always interesting to see something that is made out wires and metal among other things, function like an actual human being.
The making of robots
Many people are often amazed by the prospects of having an artificial thing work the way androids do, and this is mainly because they do not think of or understand the science behind it. Like for instance the artificial intelligence that a robot is programmed with, which gives it the required abilities to respond to their environment and function on its own without the need of human intervention. Or perhaps the sensors and motors that scientists use in the building of robots in order to have them walk from one place to another and move their ‘limbs’.
Scientists actually go at great lengths to ensure that the next robot is better than the last, and they usually succeed because we have seen progress over the years from robots that could only light up and move back and forth, to robots that can respond to humans, complete tasks and even speak a couple of words.
And scientists are not about to stop there. In as much as autonomous robots and collaborative robots are great, with every new invention comes a robot that is much closer to resembling a human being in all aspects. Thanks to science fairs and computer science subjects in schools, we can be sure that more scientists will come up and continue the work that has been going on for years, and maybe the younger generation will invent the ultimate androids.