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Glossary: Robotics

AIBO
AIBO (pronounced eye-bow) is an entertainment robot designed by Sony. AIBO means "companion" in Japanese.

Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics
Science-fiction author Isaac Asimov is often given credit for being the first person to use the term robotics in a short story composed in the 1940s. In the story, Asimov suggested three principles to guide the behavior of robots and smart machines. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, as they are called, have survived to the present.

autoloader
A stackloader (also known as an autoloader) is a tape storage device that automatically loads tape cartridges using a robotic mechanism.

automated tape library
An automated tape library is a hardware device that contains multiple tape drives for reading and writing data, access ports for entering and removing tapes.

back-pressure sensor
A back-pressure sensor is a transducer that detects and measures the instantaneous torque that a robot motor applies.

biomimetics
Biomimetics refer to human-made processes, substances, devices, or systems that imitate nature.

cognitive modeling
Cognitive modeling is an area of computer science that deals with simulating human problem solving and mental task processes in a computerized model.

data glove
A data glove is an interactive device, resembling a glove worn on the hand, which facilitates tactile sensing and fine-motion control in robotics and virtual reality.

end effector
In robotics, an end effector is a device or tool connected to the end of a robot arm. The structure of an end effector, and the nature of the programming and hardware that drives it, depends on the intended task.

eye-in-hand system
An eye-in-hand system is a robot end effector equipped with a close-range camera. The camera is designed for work at distances from a fraction of a millimeter to approximately one meter.

grasping plan
A grasping plan is an algorithm used by a robot arm and gripper to get hold of a specific object. The details of such a program depend on the type of robot arm and gripper, on the size of the robot's work area, and on the type of object(s) to be grasped.

gray goo
Gray goo (or, in British spelling, "grey goo") is a term used to describe what life on our planet might become if self-replicating robots or nanomachines got out of control and began to use up life forms for their own energy needs in some unstoppable wave.

M2M
M2M is an abbreviation for machine-to-machine, or technology that supports wired or wireless communication between machines.

microhand
A microhand is a miniature robotic end effector, which is a device or tool connected to the end of a robot arm.

microrobot
A microrobot is a miniaturized, sophisticated machine designed to perform a specific task or tasks repeatedly and with precision. Microrobots typically have dimensions ranging from a fraction of a millimeter up to several millimeters.

motion plan
A motion plan is a multi-step process that can be used by a robot to precisely position itself to perform a specified task.

pressure sensing
Pressure sensing allows a robot to tell when it collides with something, or when something pushes against it. Pressure sensors can be used to measure force, and in some cases, to determine the contour of an applied force.

proximity sensing
Proximity sensing is the ability of a robot to tell when it is near an object, or when something is near it. This sense keeps a robot from running into things. It can also be used to measure the distance from a robot to some object.

replicator
A replicator is an object or organism that can make copies of itself. Examples abound in the biological world; cells are a common example. However, replicators can also be developed in the electromechanical (or mechatronic) realm.

robot
A robot is a machine designed to execute one or more tasks repeatedly, with speed and precision. There are as many different types of robots as there are tasks for them to perform.

robotics
Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology, and bioengineering.

Roomba
Roomba is the name of a robotic vacuum produced by iRobot Corporation of Burlington, Mass., a company that also created the CoWorker telepresence robot and the PakBot device for the military.

Scooba
Scooba is the name of a robot designed for vacuuming, scrubbing, and drying floors in households and businesses. Built by the iRobot Corporation, Scooba is an enhanced version of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleane

stepper motor
A stepper motor is a special type of electric motor that moves in increments, or steps, rather than turning smoothly as a conventional motor does.

Stratellite
A Stratellite is a rigid framed airship that hovers in a fixed position in the lower stratosphere and carries one or more repeaters to create wireless communication networks.

teach box
A teach box is a device that registers and memorizes mechanical motions or processes for later recall and execution by an electronic or computer system.

telechir
A telechir is a complex robot that is remotely controlled by a human operator in a telepresence system, which gives a person the sense of being on location in a remote, dangerous, or alien environment..

telemetrics
Telemetrics is a technology that involves the automatic measurement and transmission of data from remote sources. The process of measuring data at the source and transmitting it automatically is called telemetry.

telepresence
Telepresence is a sophisticated form of robotic remote control in which a human operator has a sense of being on location so that the experience resembles virtual reality (VR).

texture sensing
Texture sensing is the ability of a robot end effector to determine whether a surface is smooth or rough. There are several ways to do this; the simplest method involves reflected light.

Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter
A UART is the microchip with programming that controls a computer's interface to its attached serial devices.

universal constructor
A universal constructor is a device that can self-replicate - that is, make copies of itself.

Video: Robotic Despair
A robot is driven to the brink of despair in General Motors' Superbowl commercial from 2007.

wearable robot
A wearable robot is a machine that facilitates telepresence, a sophisticated form of interactive remote control. It allows a human operator to control a humanoid robot, also known as an android.

This was last updated in February 2007

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