Image from nsaxonanderson.com.
There are many different kinds of robots: factory automation systems that weld and assemble car engines; machines that place chocolates into boxes; medical devices that support surgeons in operations requiring high-precision manipulation; cars that drive automatically over long distances; vehicles for planetary exploration; mechanisms for powerline or oil platform inspection; toys and educational toolkits for schools and universities; service robots that deliver meals, clean floors, or mow lawns; and "companion robots" that are real partners for humans and share our daily lives. In a sense, all these robots are inspired by biological systems; it's just a matter of degree. A driverless vehicle imitates animals moving autonomously in the world, a factory automation system is intended to replace humans in tasks that are dull, dirty, or dangerous. The term "robot" itself is anthropomorphic as it is derived from the Czech word "robota," which is generally translated as "drudgery" or "hard work," suggesting the analogy to people.
The scientific study of biological systems offers a complementary approach to more formal analytic methods favored by roboticists.
The way in which the locust's distinctive visual system could be transferred into technology for state of the art vehicle collision sensors, surveillance technology and video games has been detailed as part of robotics research being carried out by an academic from the University of Lincoln (UK).
Just how close are we to being replaced by robots? NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien examines the efforts under way to develop robots that are just like us."
Video clips of many robots and interviews with researchers, including Marvin Minsky.
From the MIT Robotic Life Group's Cyberflora Project. "This video shows the Cyberflora installation as part of the National Design Triennial, hosted by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. This robotic flower garden is comprised of four species of cyberflora. Each combines animal-like behavior and flower-like characteristics into a robotic instantiation that senses and responds to people in a life-like and distinct manner. A soft melody serves as the garden's musical aroma that subtly changes as people interact with the flowers. Delicate and graceful, Cyberflora communicates a future vision of robots that shall intrigue us intellectually and touch us emotionally. The installation explores a style of human-robot interaction that is fluid, dynamic, and harmonious."