Summary of robots and why we need them


Let’s summarize what we have learned in this lecture and there are some important messages that I’d like you to take home. The first and perhaps the most important is that robots are real. Yes, there are many depictions of robots in fiction, in books, TVs and movies, but there are a number of real robots in the world doing useful things right now. The next message is that robots are very diverse in their form and their function. They don’t necessarily look like the fictional robots that you are familiar with. We have seen a great diversity of real world robots. We have seen robot arms that are used in manufacturing plants. We have seen robots with wheels. We have seen robots with legs. We have seen robots that can fly and we have seen robots that can move under water or robot boats that can move on the surface of water. We have looked at robots that perform a wide range of different functions.

And, the form of the robot that is its shape and how it moves through the world depends very much on the function that it needs to perform. So, if it needs to move through the air, then its form is of a flying machine, perhaps like a fixed wing aircraft or perhaps like a helicopter. If it’s got to move across the surface of a lake, then it’s going to have a form that looks like a boat. The functionality of robots is improving very, very rapidly. If we look at manufacturing robot from the 1960’s and compare it to a robot today, the modern robot is incredibly reliable, incredibly accurate and built for quite a reasonable price. We see the same thing for mobile robots. We look at robots like the Stanford Cart or Shakey from the ’60’s and compare that to a Google car of today. That’s a phenomenal amount of progress in a period of about 50 years.

The other message that I’d like you to take home is that robots are part of the solution to some really important problems of our time. They are going to be a key to providing affordable health care to the growing number of people on our planet. They are going to be important in industries which supply the fundamental raw materials for all the people on our planet, that’s food and energy and minerals. They will also have a really key role in managing and inspecting all of the infrastructure on which our modern society depends. Finally, they play a really important role in monitoring the health of the planet on which we all live. For all of these reasons, robotics is a really important technology. It’s an important technology today. It will only become a more important in to the future.

This video summarises the important points from this masterclass.

Professor Peter Corke

Professor of Robotic Vision at QUT and Director of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision (ACRV). Peter is also a Fellow of the IEEE, a senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and on the editorial board of several robotics research journals.

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