The IT Law Wiki
Robotics is a field at the intersection of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science that 'deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.'[1]



[is] a wide technology area that also encompasses a subset of valuable enabling technologies. Robotics is an area of increasing interest, investment, and hype. Within this backdrop, domestic, military, and healthcare are applications that could be instrumental in driving service robotics commercialization.
focuses on systems incorporating sensors and actuators that operate autonomously or semi-autonomously in cooperation with humans. Robotics research emphasizes intelligence and adaptability to cope with unstructured environments.[2]
is currently concerned with how to train a robot to interact with the world around it in generalizable and predictable ways, how to facilitate manipulation of objects in interactive environments, and how to interact with people. Advances in robotics will rely on commensurate advances to improve the reliability and generality of computer vision and other forms of machine perception.[3]


"Robotics is shaping up to be the next transformative technology of our time. And robotics has a different set of essential qualities than the Internet. Robotics combines, arguably for the first time, the promiscuity of information with the capacity to do physical harm. Robots display increasingly emergent behavior, permitting the technology to accomplish both useful and unfortunate tasks in unexpected ways. And robots, more so than any technology in history, feel to us like social actors — a tendency so strong that soldiers sometimes jeopardize themselves to preserve the 'lives' of military robots in the field."[4]


"Real-world application of robots dates back to 1961, when George Devol's and Joseph Engelberger’s Unimate system was deployed at General Motors for handling of die-cast metal. Use of robots in the automation of physical tasks provides benefits such as quality, repeatability, and power and can enable the removal of humans from dangerous tasks. In their early days, robots were used predominantly in automotive manufacturing. The initial introduction of robots in the automotive industry helped to ensure consistent quality over time and a reduction in defects.

"Since then, the field has seen tremendous technical progress. The early robot systems had high mechanical precision but were not programmable. They used a fixed sequence of actions to perform a task. By 1974, the first microprocessor-controlled robot was introduced. Today's robot utilizes different types of sensors, and some of them are directly programmed from human demonstration."[5]

Synergistic technologies[]

The field of robotics is multidisciplinary and advances in any number of scientific and engineering field could improve robot capabilities. Because robots are computer-controlled machines, advances in computer hardware and software are obviously synergistic. Advances in microprocessor speeds and abilities are directly applicable to improving the speeds and capabilities of robots. Some specific examples of key synergistic technologies follow:

  • Wireless communications technologies. Wireless technologies already enable robots to communicate with the outside world. Wireless technologies and infrastructure will continue to advance and thus enable an increase in robot functionality.
  • Sensor technologies (vision, chemical, infrared, sonic). Robots require a multitude of sensors to gather data in order to perform security functions. These sensors must work well together (sensor fusion) and must be cost-effective.
  • Advanced materials and electronics technologies. Advances in microprocessors (and other microelectronics), and also in advanced actuators (e.g. artificial muscles) will be necessary to improve the functionality and performance of robots, and especially to limit the overall size and complexity of advanced robots.
  • Low-cost high-performance energy and power systems. Robots currently have a severely limited range. For a security robot to operate effectively, it needs to be able to work for long periods without charging or re-fuelling. In addition, the charging or re-fuelling process must be a quick and convenient process. Totally new power systems will likely be required before robots can operate effectively for long periods of time.


See also[]