Robots and Robotics

Human beings have been fascinated by robots for hundreds of years.

robot is a "machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (as walking or talking) of a human being; ...or, a device that automatically performs complicated, often repetitive tasks."

Robotics is "technology dealing with the design, construction, and operation of  robots in automation."

The source of the word robot is a play by Czech writer Karel Capek (1890-1938), in which the robots attempt to take over the human beings. I won't give away the ending, but you can read the play -- R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots -- at the Peabody Library.

Johns Hopkins does a lot of research related to robots and robotics:

  • We also host the annual Robo-Challenge for middle- and high-school students -- check out these video clips of each of the competitions. (And some lucky high school robotics teams will be watching the astronauts on the International Space Station compete with their robots in zero gravity. )

Other universities have great robotics traditions as well -- for example,  meet Kismet, the sociable robot (for videos, scroll down to the "conversation with..." links), who lives at MIT's Humanoid Robotics Group; and Mabel, who has knees, and can run very fast.

"Yes, robots are awesome!" you say. "How do I build one?" Catalyst to the rescue:

The wide world of robots and robotics includes domestic robots, Freudian robots, industrial robots, gel robots, and, of course, LEGO robots. And you certainly want to read stories and see movies with robots in them. Now, are you ready to pick up a minor in robotics?

About Sue Vazakas

Science/Engineering Librarian and devoted reader.

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