Roboticists develop man-made
mechanical devices that can move by themselves, whose motion must be
modelled, planned, sensed, actuated and controlled, and
whose motion behaviour can be influenced by “programming”. Robots
are called “intelligent” if they succeed in moving in safe
interaction with an unstructured environment, while autonomously
achieving their specified tasks.
This definition implies that a device
can only be called a “robot” if it contains a movable mechanism,
influenced by sensing, planning, actuation and control components.
It does not imply that a minimum number of these components
must be implemented in software, or be changeable by the “consumer”
who uses the device; for example, the motion behaviour can have been
hard-wired into the device by the manufacturer.
So, the presented definition, as well
as the rest of the material in this part of the WEBook, covers not
just “pure” robotics or only “intelligent” robots, but rather the
somewhat broader domain of robotics and automation.
This includes “dumb” robots such as: metal and woodworking machines,
“intelligent” washing machines, dish washers and pool cleaning
robots, etc. These examples all have sensing, planning and control,
but often not in individually separated components. For example, the
sensing and planning behaviour of the pool cleaning robot have been
integrated into the mechanical design of the device, by the
intelligence of the human developer.
Robotics is, to a very large extent,
all about system integration, achieving a task by an actuated
mechanical device, via an “intelligent” integration of components,
many of which it shares with other domains, such as systems and
control, computer science, character animation, machine design,
computer vision, artificial intelligence, cognitive science,
biomechanics, etc. In addition, the boundaries of robotics cannot be
clearly defined, since also its “core” ideas, concepts and
algorithms are being applied in an ever increasing number of
“external” applications, and, vice versa, core technology from other
domains (vision, biology, cognitive science or biomechanics, for
example) are becoming crucial components in more and more modern