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Wednesday, 29 April 2009


A robot is a virtual or mechanical artificial agent. In practice, it is usually an electro-mechanical system which, by its appearance or movements, conveys a sense that it has intent or agency of its own. The word robot can refer to both physical robots and virtual software agents, but the latter are usually referred to as bots. There is no consensus on which machines qualify as robots, but there is general agreement among experts and the public that robots tend to do some or all of the following: move around, operate a mechanical limb, sense and manipulate their environment, and exhibit intelligent behavior, especially behavior which mimics humans or other animals.

Stories of artificial helpers and companions and attempts to create them have a long history but fully autonomous machines only appeared in the 20th century. The first digitally operated and programmable robot, the Unimate, was installed in 1961 to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Today, commercial and industrial robots are in widespread use performing jobs more cheaply or with greater accuracy and reliability than humans. They are also employed for jobs which are too dirty, dangerous or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly and packing, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, and mass production of consumer and industrial goods.
People have a generally positive perception of the robots they actually encounter. Domestic robots for cleaning and maintenance are increasingly common in and around homes. There is anxiety, however, over the economic impact of automation and the threat of robotic weaponry, anxiety which is not helped by the depiction of many villainous, intelligent, acrobatic robots in popular entertainment. Compared with their fictional counterparts, real robots are still benign, dim-witted and clumsy.

While there is no single correct definition of "robot", a typical robot will have several or possibly all of the following properties.
It contains an artificial substance. (They are now attaching microchips to cockroaches and other bugs.)
It can sense its environment, and manipulate or interact with things in it.
It has some ability to make choices based on the environment, often using automatic control or a preprogrammed sequence.
It is programmable.
It moves with one or more axes of rotation or translation.
It makes dexterous coordinated movements.
It moves without direct human intervention.
It appears to have intent or agency.
The last property, the appearance of agency, is important when people are considering whether to call a machine a robot, or just a machine.

Mental agency

For robotic engineers, the physical appearance of a machine is less important than the way its actions are controlled. The more the control system seems to have agency of its own, the more likely the machine is to be called a robot. An important feature of agency is the ability to make choices.
~ A clockwork car is never considered a robot.
~ A remotely operated vehicle is sometimes considered a robot (or telerobot).
~ A car with an onboard computer, like Bigtrak, which could drive in a programmable sequence, might be called a robot.
~ A self-controlled car which could sense its environment and make driving decisions based on this information, such as the 1990s driverless cars of Ernst Dickmanns or the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge, would quite likely be called a robot.
~ A sentient car, like the fictional KITT, which can make decisions, navigate freely and converse fluently with a human, is usually considered a robot.

Physical agency
However, for many laymen, if a machine appears to be able to control its arms or limbs, and especially if it appears anthropomorphic or zoomorphic (e.g. ASIMO or Aibo), it would be called a robot.
~ A player piano is rarely characterized as a robot.
~ A CNC milling machine is very occasionally characterized as a robot.
~ A factory automation arm is almost always characterized as an industrial robot.
~ An autonomous wheeled or tracked device, such as a self-guided rover or self-guided vehicle, is almost always characterized as a mobile robot or service robot.
~ A zoomorphic mechanical toy, like Roboraptor, is usually characterized as a robot.
~ A mechanical humanoid, like ASIMO, is almost always characterized as a robot, usually as a service robot.
Even for a 3-axis CNC milling machine using the same control system as a robot arm, it is the arm which is almost always called a robot, while the CNC machine is usually just a machine. Having eyes can also make a difference in whether a machine is called a robot, since humans instinctively connect eyes with sentience. However, simply being anthropomorphic is not a sufficient criterion for something to be called a robot. A robot must do something; an inanimate object shaped like ASIMO would not be considered a robot.

Many ancient mythologies include artificial people, such as the mechanical servants built by the Greek god Hephaestus (Vulcan to the Romans), the clay golems of Jewish legend and clay giants of Norse legend, and Galatea, the mythical statue of Pygmalion that came to life.

In the 4th century BC, the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum postulated a mechanical steam-operated bird he called "The Pigeon". Hero of Alexandria (10–70 AD) created numerous user-configurable automated devices, and described machines powered by air pressure, steam and water. Su Song built a clock tower in China in 1088 featuring mechanical figurines that chimed the hours.

Al-Jazari (1136–1206), a Muslim inventor during the Artuqid dynasty, designed and constructed a number of automated machines, including kitchen appliances, musical automata powered by water, and the first programmable humanoid robots in 1206. The robots appeared as four musicians on a boat in a lake, entertaining guests at royal drinking parties. His mechanism had a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bumped into little levers that operated percussion instruments. The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns by moving the pegs to different locations.

Al- Jazari's programmable humanoid robots

Early modern developments
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) sketched plans for a humanoid robot around 1495. Da Vinci's notebooks, rediscovered in the 1950s, contain detailed drawings of a mechanical knight now known as Leonardo's robot, able to sit up, wave its arms and move its head and jaw. The design was probably based on anatomical research recorded in his Vitruvian Man. It is not known whether he attempted to build it.
In 1738 and 1739, Jacques de Vaucanson exhibited several life-sized automatons: a flute player, a pipe player and a duck. The mechanical duck could flap its wings, crane its neck, and swallow food from the exhibitor's hand, and it gave the illusion of digesting its food by excreting matter stored in a hidden compartment. Complex mechanical toys and animals built in Japan in the 1700s were described in the Karakuri zui (Illustrated Machinery, 1796).

Tea-serving karakuri, with mechanism, 19th century. Tokyo National Science Museum.

Modern developments

The Japanese craftsman Hisashige Tanaka (1799–1881), known as "Japan's Edison", created an array of extremely complex mechanical toys, some of which served tea, fired arrows drawn from a quiver, and even painted a Japanese kanji character. In 1898 Nikola Tesla publicly demonstrated a radio-controlled torpedo. Based on patents for "teleautomation", Tesla hoped to develop it into a weapon system for the US Navy.

In 1926, Westinghouse Electric Corporation created Televox, the first robot put to useful work. They followed Televox with a number of other simple robots, including one called Rastus, made in the crude image of a black man. In the 1930s, they created a humanoid robot known as Elektro for exhibition purposes, including the 1939 and 1940 World's Fairs. In 1928, Japan's first robot, Gakutensoku, was designed and constructed by biologist Makoto Nishimura.

The First Unimate

The first electronic autonomous robots were created by William Grey Walter of the Burden Neurological Institute at Bristol, England in 1948 and 1949. They were named Elmer and Elsie. These robots could sense light and contact with external objects, and use these stimuli to navigate.

The first truly modern robot, digitally operated and programmable, was invented by George Devol in 1954 and was ultimately called the Unimate. Devol sold the first Unimate to General Motors in 1960, and it was installed in 1961 in a plant in Trenton, New Jersey to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them.

Contemporary uses

At present there are 2 main types of robots, based on their use:

~ General-purpose autonomous robots

~ Purpose-build robots.

General-purpose autonomous robots

General-purpose autonomous robots are robots that typically mimic human behavior and are often build to be physically similar to humans as well. This type of robot is therefore also often called a humanoid robot. General-purpose autonomous robots are not as flexible as people, but they often can navigate independently in known spaces. Like computers, general-purpose robots can link with software and accessories that increase their usefulness. They may recognize people or objects, talk, provide companionship, monitor environmental quality, pick up supplies and perform other useful tasks. General-purpose robots may perform a variety of tasks simultaneously or they may take on different roles at different times of day.

Purpose-build robots

In 2006, there were an estimated 3,540,000 service robots in use, and an estimated 950,000 industrial robots. A different estimate counted more than one million robots in operation worldwide in the first half of 2008, with roughly half in Asia, 32% in Europe, 16% in North America, 1% in Australasia and 1% in Africa. Industrial and service robots can be placed into roughly two classifications based on the type of job they do. The first category includes tasks which a robot can do with greater productivity, accuracy, or endurance than humans; the second category consists of dirty, dangerous or dull jobs which humans find undesirable.

For increased productivity, accuracy, and endurance

Many factory jobs are now performed by robots. This has led to cheaper mass-produced goods, including automobiles and electronics. Stationary manipulators used in factories have become the largest market for robots.

Some examples of factory robots:

~ Car production: Over the last three decades automobile factories have become dominated by robots. A typical factory contains hundreds of industrial robots working on fully automated production lines, with one robot for every ten human workers. On an automated production line, a vehicle chassis on a conveyor is welded, glued, painted and finally assembled at a sequence of robot stations.

~ Packaging: Industrial robots are also used extensively for palletizing and packaging of manufactured goods, for example for rapidly taking drink cartons from the end of a conveyor belt and placing them into boxes, or for loading and unloading machining centers.

~ Electronics: Mass-produced printed circuit boards (PCBs) are almost exclusively manufactured by pick-and-place robots, typically with SCARA manipulators, which remove tiny electronic components from strips or trays, and place them on to PCBs with great accuracy. Such robots can place hundreds of thousands of components per hour, far out-performing a human in speed, accuracy, and reliability.

~Automated guided vehicles (AGVs): Mobile robots, following markers or wires in the floor, or using vision or lasers, are used to transport goods around large facilities, such as warehouses, container ports, or hospitals.

Types of robots

~ Soft Robots: Robots with silicone bodies and flexible actuators (air muscles, electroactive polymers, and ferrofluids), controlled using fuzzy logic and neural networks, look and feel different from robots with rigid skeletons, and are capable of different behaviors.

~ Swarm robots: Inspired by colonies of insects such as ants and bees, researchers are modeling the behavior of swarms of thousands of tiny robots which together perform a useful task, such as finding something hidden, cleaning, or spying. Each robot is quite simple, but the emergent behavior of the swarm is more complex. The whole set of robots can be considered as one single distributed system, in the same way an ant colony can be considered a superorganism, exhibiting swarm intelligence. The largest swarms so far created include the iRobot swarm, the SRI/MobileRobots CentiBots project and the Open-source Micro-robotic Project swarm, which are being used to research collective behaviors. Swarms are also more resistant to failure. Whereas one large robot may fail and ruin a mission, a swarm can continue even if several robots fail. This could make them attractive for space exploration missions, where failure can be extremely costly.

~ Haptic interface robots: Robotics also has application in the design of virtual reality interfaces. Specialized robots are in widespread use in the haptic research community. These robots, called "haptic interfaces" allow touch-enabled user interaction with real and virtual environments. Robotic forces allow simulating the mechanical properties of "virtual" objects, which users can experience through their sense of touch. Haptic interfaces are also used in robot-aided rehabilitation.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


Studies show that long-term exposure to radiation increases the risk of all forms of cancer, tumors, blood disorders, miscarriage, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, aging of the skin, skin burn, etc.

Radiation exposure over time can cause skin burn, dry wrinkled skin and photo aging. This skin damage is identical to sun damage and causes the same health problems. Many electronic products that we use on a daily basis expose us to harmful radiation.

A television, microwave oven, cellular phone and computer are examples of products that emit radiation. To preserve your health use electronic products carefully, in ways that shield your body from radiation.

Computer radiation is most harmful to skin health because we sit directly in front of the computer for long periods of time with our face absorbing the radiation. Lessening this type of harmful radiation is important.Computer radiation can make you feel sick and burn your skin.

Most people are not aware of this, and continue to suffer with ill health they have no explanation for. They do not realize sometimes ill health is related to computer use. Using a laptop or LCD does not exclude you from the negative health affects of computer radiation. All computer monitors emit low levels of radiation. Laptops and LCD monitors emit less radiation than the old-fashioned CRT monitors.

However, all monitors emit enough radiation to affect your health and appearance. A healthy solution is to use a computer accessory called a radiation filter. This product will eliminate 94-99% of the harmful radiation emitted from your computer screen. Radiation filters are available for all types of computer monitors, and they work well to protect you from radiation. It is also helpful to move the processor tower as far away from your body as possible. This will reduce radiation that could reach and affect your body.

The negative health effects of computer radiation are a well-known topic. There is much research on the web that explains its health hazards. But unfortunately, it is also a much avoided subject. Most people do not realize the harm that radiation can cause to the human body, even at low levels. It is also not a widely advertised problem because it would negatively affect industry and the economy as a whole. By law, there are basic health and safety requirements that manufacturers must meet for electronic products.

Many manufacturers today are improving products to emit less radiation, and great technological improvements have been made in the last five years alone. Be health smart and research any electronic product before you buy to make sure it emits low radiation. Most industry standard computer monitors do comply with low radiation guidelines. However, low radiation does not mean zero radiation. Computer radiation levels are still allowed to be high enough to cause health problems. It is very important to use products that emit low radiation, and shield radiation emissions.

A useful guide helps to prevent computer radiation.

1. Place several potted cactus beside your computer as they can effectively absorb the radiation released by the computer.

2. For those who have a tight schedule or have to rush for work, the simplest way to curb computer radiation is by simply drinking 2 to 3 cups of green tea and eating an orange. As green tea can be assimilated by the body easily into a form of vitamin A, which is later synthesised into a substance called rhodopsin, it helps reducing radiation. Also, rhodopsin helps keeping our eyes see things clearly in the dark by improving the visual ability, and at the same time protects us from the hazard of the computer radiation. Besides green tea, chrysanthemum tea, spirulina, Sea buckthorn oil also has the role of anti-radiation.

3. Make sure you do a skincare protection before sitting in front of the computer. Apply a layer of facial mask to prevent yourself from the hazard of radiation. Remember to rinse your face with clean alkaline water to eliminate some electromagnetic radiation particles that may have attached to the surface of your face. Make sure you wash your face promptly after using the computer in order to reduce 70% of the radiation.

4. It is advisable to attach a radiation filter plate in front of your computer's screen to reduce the hazard of radiation. Avoid putting any metal substances within the place where you place your computer as these metal substances may have reflected some of the electromagnetic waves that are harmful to your health. Adjust the brightness of your computer before using it. The brightest the screen the highest the radiation there will be and vice versa. Thus, try to adjust the screen brightness that is not too bright or too dark for your eyes to capture. In contrary, lowest level of brightness may irritate your eyes and cause your eyes strained easily. Take note that the brightness of the screen should make your eyes feel comfortable to gaze at.

5. If possibly, purchase a new computer instead of using an old model computer. Old computer in general, has more radiations released than the new one within the same distance. Its radiation is usually one to two times higher than the newly developed computer.

6. The position where you place your computer is important in reducing radiation. Do not let the back screen of your computer overlooking the place where people are walking around. For your information, the strongest radiation is released from the back of the screen, followed by the right and left of the screen, while the front screen releases less radiation. Make sure your eyes are placed in a distance of 50 to 75cm away from the screen to reduce the hazard of an electromagnetic radiation of the computer.

7. Pay attention to the indoor ventilation. Recent research shows that the computer screen can produce a carcinogenic substance called bromine dibenzofuran, which is harmful to human's health. Therefore, make sure the place you put your computer is ventilated by a fan or a cooler. Otherwise, you have to search for a well-ventilated place before using the computer.

8. Take some foods which are rich in vitamin A and C such as carrots, cherries, apples, bean sprouts, tomatoes as a good measure to reduce the harmful effect of an indoor radiation.

9. For those who have to use a computer regularly while at work or at home, their eyes may get tired and pain easily after spending longer hours looking at the screen, so it is advisable to eat some bananas. The potassium in the banana helps easing the eyes disorders. Therefore, when your eyes feel dry, pain, irritated and dull, eat some bananas to relieve these eyes symptoms. Not only it eases eyestrain but also avoid premature aging of your eyes.

so, take care, stay well and good luck! :D