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Fact file: Robots

Fact file: RobotsWhether it’s Short Circuit or Terminator, we have long been fascinated with the idea of building artificial people. Below is a fact file with all you need to know about our silicon friends.

What can robots do?

Right now, robots are being used everywhere, from the operating table to chess tournaments. Here are just a few examples.

  • Robots are now performing delicate surgical operations, which reduces the risk of mistakes and allows surgeons to perform more complex procedures. See an example.
  • In space, robots can perform many tasks that would be impossible for humans in such a hostile atmosphere. One robot is currently helping astronauts to rebuild the international space station. Read about it here.
  • Robots can also be used to help people around the house. Although at the moment they are only capable of basic tasks, such as tidying or putting things away, in the future we may all have a ‘house bot’ to help us with the chores. One of the modern household robots can be seen here.
  • The military use robots for many different tasks, ranging from scouting enemy territory to more complicated tasks like the clearing of landmines. They can even be used underwater. Read about it here
  • Robots are also used for our entertainment, whether it be as pets, or as almost unbeatable chess champions!

Can robots be like humans?

A famous scientist called Alan Turing once devised a test. He claimed that a machine could be said to have ‘consciousness’ when it could fool a human into believing that it was one of them. British scientists recently won a prize for their creation – a computer called ‘Joan’ who almost convinced the judges that she was human. Chat to Joan here.

Robot facts!

Did you know…?

  • The first recorded mention of a robot comes from Leonardo DaVinci, all the way back in 1495. He wrote down his thoughts about ‘mechanical knights’ who would help in battle.
  • The word ‘robot’ comes from the Czech word for ‘compulsory labour’ – makes you think twice about robots doing the dishes!
  • The first working robot was introduced in 1961. It worked on a production line making cars for Ford.
  • The smallest robot is a nanobot, which measures only 10 nanometres in size – less than one thousandth of a millimetre.
  • Japan is home to more than half the world’s robots.

Want to study robotics?

Robotics is the science of robots – looking at their internal wiring, programming, and the way they move. To work with robots you will need a degree in an appropriate subject such as Robotics and Cybertronics, or Computer Science. Alternatively you can get a more general degree, such as Engineering, Physics or Maths, and then specialise later on by doing an MSc course in Robotics.

A list of places that offer robotics courses can be found here.

Or, if you’re feeling adventurous now, why not build your own robot?

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