Fundamentals of robot technology : An Introduction to industrial robots, teleoperators and robot vehicles
Todd, D. J.
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Robotics is a subject without sharp boundaries: at various points on its periphery it merges into fields such as artificial intelligence, automation and remote control, so it is hard to define it concisely. It is the branch of engineering whose subject is, obviously, robots, but there is no universal agreement on what constitutes a robot, although many definitions have been proposed, some of which are given later. The boundaries of robotics are not only vague but shifting. Robots are evolving quickly, and our ideas with them, so that we expect more and more intelligence from machines. A machine which at one time is regarded as a robot may in a few years come to be thought too primitive or inflexible to merit the name. But if some machines are leaving the domain of robotics, others are entering, as it becomes possible to automate more tasks so that, for example, it becomes reasonable to envisage autonomous mobile robots travelling and working in the country unattended for long periods. Also, it may be argued that the boundaries of robotics are subject to changes of fashion: at the time of writing robots and so-called 'high-tech' devices generally are prominent in the news media and have value as commercial symbols, and so almost any piece of domestic hardware may be heralded as robotic by its advertisers. Given this fluid situation it is unwise to insist on a rigid definition of 'robot' or 'robotics', but the following list of characteristics seems to be essential for a true robot.