In practical usage, a robot is a mechanical device
which performs automated tasks, either according to direct
human supervision, a pre-defined program or, a set of general
guidelines, using artificial
intelligence techniques. These tasks either replace
or enhance human work, such as in manufacturing, construction
or manipulation of heavy or hazardous materials.
A robot may include a feedback-driven connection between
sense and action, not under direct human control. The action
may take the form of electro-magnetic motors or actuators
that move an arm, open and close grips, or propel the robot.
The step by step control and feedback is provided by a computer
program run on either an external or embedded computer or
a microcontroller. By this definition, a robot may include
nearly all automated devices.
Alternately, robot has been used as the general term for
a mechanical man, or an automaton resembling an animal,
either real or imagined. It has come to be applied to many
machines which directly replace a human or animal in work
or play. In this way, a robot can be seen as a form of biomimicry.
Anthropomorphism is perhaps what makes us reluctant to refer
to the highly complex modern washer-dryer as a robot. However,
in modern understanding, the term implies a degree of autonomy
that would exclude many automatic machine tools from being
called robots. It is the search for ever more highly autonomous
robots which is the major focus of robotics research and
which drives much work in artificial intelligence.
Federation of Robotics
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