Monday, December 19, 2016


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A technological revolution is taking place in the area of machine tools, inspection devices and handling equipments. This new revolution has been triggered off by electronics and sustained by ever-increasing capabilities of computers. This has led to emergence of a new technology called mechtronics symbolizing the synthesis of mechanical aspects. 
Robotics is the study of the design and use of robots (Czech: ‘robota’ meaning compulsory service), i.e. the machines programmed to carry out a series of operations without human guidance. The word ‘robotics’ was invented by the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. 
In the field of robotics, we stand at the bottom. The robots that exits are by no means the seeing, speaking, thinking, humanoid types that we find in science fiction. So far, they are only computerized levers equipped to do a particular simple task over and over, thought the rapidly will be made more complex, versatile and able. The kind of work they can do makes them more important. They can do dangerous work or withstand dangerous conditions, which human beings would much prefer to avoid. Robots can work in space, in mines, use water-active materials, pressures, heights and so on. Besides, replacement of human beings with robots may be impossible. The human brain is not easy to match, let alone surpass. The brain contains 10,000 million neurons and 100,000 million supporting cells. Each neuro is connected to anywhere from 100 to 100,000 others to make up an ON-Off switch, but is itself an ultra complex physical chemical system that we are not even on the brink of understanding. The human brain is built of proteins and nucleic acids as a result of 3500 million years of evolution by hit and miss mutation and by the force of natural selection operating under the push of the necessity of survival.
Industrial application of robots is favored because of their untiring nature, predictability, precision, reliability and ability to work in relatively hostile environment. Besides this, robots frequently increase productivity improve overall product quality, allow replacement of human labor in monotonous and, of course, in hazardous task.
Computer-controlled robots are used in industry for welding. Assembling and machining, and to handle various materials. Non-industrial applications of robots include marine work, space work, bionomics, farm work, mining, nuclear work, security guarding, sheep-shaving, simulation, warehouse, micro-surgery, etc.
Robots for space:--- Computer scientists have designed an intelligent flying robot to carry out a wide range of tasks on Mars, if it is visited by a possible future European Space Agency Mars Lander Mission in 2005. Named Altair-1, the craft has been designed primarily to carry science packages, micro-robots and other equipment from one part of the planet to another. It will also perform important reconnaissance works like mapping the terrain, taking aerial photographs, and working as a weather balloon.
Being a flying machine Altair-1 can only operate on the planets and Moon which have an atmosphere, such as, Mars, Venus, Titan and Jupiter. It attempts to remedy the problems suffered by vehicles such as the Sojourner micro-rover in the Mars pathfinder Mission of 1997, which could not wander further than the limited vicinity of the landing craft.
Altair-1 will run on solar power in conjunction with rechargeable batteries. This would ensure a sustainable power supply to it. But, in the case of power dipping low, the robot can simply be used as a Martian winds while still feeding back invaluable data. Geological exploration in inaccessible areas, high-altitude surveillance and atmospheric monitoring are just some of the potential applications of its capabilities.
Polymorphic Robot:--- Recently, the scientists have developed a polymorphic robot, which can change is shape according to the job. This thermoplastic farmed robot is being developed by Hod Lipson with Jordan Pollack. The basic idea is to assign the robot a particular task, and then a computer would attempt to design a specific body which would facilitate the robot to perform the task efficiently.
This development has immense potential in space research. Robots, with the capacity of shape-shifting, could be used in futuristic rescue missions or planetary explorations as then they could change their shapes to meet a new challenge and could adapt to unpredictable environments.
Robots Soldiers:--- In wartime, the most perilous assignment is to take the lead on patrol but soon soldier taking lead could be robot. A company named ‘Robo Trix’ has developed two robot prototypes for the US military nicknamed Gladiator and Spike, about the size of washing machines. Gladiator and Spike are armored engines guided by computers and can travel unmanned into the most dangerous situation. Earlier, robots handled dangerous situations like bomb disposal, SWAT mission, gas leaks and collapsing mines.
Now likely assignments of robots include surveillance, clearing land mines, responding to chemical weapons release, exchanging messages during hostage negotiations and a Kamikaze role guiding weapons to target.
Robotics in India
In India, a few research groups have been working on development of robots, but a breakthrough is yet to be made in the field of robots for large-scale industrial application. The groups working on robotics include R and D of the Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT), the Central Machine Tools Institute (CMIT), the India Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, the Indian Institute of Science (IIS) Bangalore, and the Hyderabad Science Society, Hyderabad.
The public sector defense production unit, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) was the first Indian industry to introduce an indigenously developed robot in its production line. It introduced ‘pick’ and ‘place’ type robot with a three axis movement in its television tube production plant at Bangalore. The pneumatically-operated the productivity while maintaining quality in the semi automated plant, eliminating operator fatigue and other health hazards.
The robotics laboratory at the school of automation of the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), Bangalore has developed a microprocessor-base robotic arm. The arm has four joints, each of which is actuated by a stepper motor. The robotic arm can be controlled manually form a front panel or automatically through a video terminal and a key-board. The microprocessor has been programmed in such a way that a lay man can control the robotic arm. It can be commanded to pick up an object from a specified location or to search, locate and then grip an object within the work area.


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