Robotics: Past Present Future

Robotics: Past, Present and Future

Robotics : Past <- Present -> Future

George Devol and Joseph Engelberger discuss their robotic invention.
In the 1940’s the science fiction writer, credited with coining the word “robotics,” Isaac Asimov predicted that robots would be very important in the future. He wrote a popular fictional series of books about robots.
A meeting between an inventor and an engineer in 1956, to discuss the writings of Isaac Asimov provided the impetus for the first industrial robotics. After brainstorming, George Devol and Joseph Engelberger began work on the first robot they called “UNIMATE,” and sold it to General Motors.
Unimate began working in an assembly line in a Trenton, New Jersey factory in 1961. Unimate’s commands were stored on a magnetic drum, where a sensor translated signals that commanded it to order and stack hot pieces of die-cast metal.
George Devol and Joseph Engelberger with their invention, Unimate, the first robot in history.
Above: Inventor George Devol and Joseph Engelberger with their robotics invention called Unimate. Following this success, robotics became common in manufacturing assembly operations. Industrial robots have typically been used to operate in areas that are dangerous or not easily accessible by humans. The earliest industrial robotics did spot welding, paint spraying and worked as materials handlers.

Seam and arc welding have also been areas where robotics was found to be important because of human safety concerns. The semiconductor industry has benefitted by using robotics.

Robotics are also important in space exploration and underwater marine projects. The Rov (Remotely Operated Vehicle) proved its importance as a robotics that could be operated from earth while roving the moon to collect scientific data. The Phoenix Mars Lander gave scientists detailed photos of the surface of Mars after a perfect landing.

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)

Project Jeremy is an underwater robotics that explores the ocean for NASA, collecting specimens and information where humans cannot safely work. NASA is currently planning to use robotics to identify new resources and possible hazards on the moon and other planets.

Mechanical robotic arms have the ability to move in ways human arms cannot, with a valuable 360 degree circular movement in the wrist area. They are utilized in industry and are becoming
important in medicine.

Scientists at NASA are currently researching ways to improve the control systems and communication methods in lunar explorers, which will enable the control team on the ground to precisely operate the robotics on the moon.

Medical surgical robots were first introduced in the 1980s to augment the medical staff by imparting superhuman capabilities: high motion accuracy and enabling interventions that would be otherwise physically impossible.

Early surgical robots were computer-aided design/manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems. These used pre-fixed anatomical landmarks as points of recognition and registration by the computer to allow movement within set confines. The rigid and predictable behavior of bone was first exploited. RoboDoc (Integrated Surgical systems, Sacramento, CA, USA), first used in humans in 1992, incorporated prior two-dimensional (2D) fluoroscopic imaging to improve placement and dimensional accuracy of prosthetic implants by robotic drilling and bone preparation. NeuroMate was USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved in 1997 (Integrated Surgical Systems) to assist in stereotactic functional brain surgery based upon preoperative head imaging.

Robotics was first introduced in urological surgery in the late 1990s for both prostate and renal access. ProBot (prototype from Imperial College, London, UK) was a robotic resection device with seven degrees of freedom designed for automated TURP for BPH. Meanwhile, PAKY-RCM (Percutaneous Access to Kidney–Remote Centre of Motion) and AcuBot were both developed at Johns Hopkins University.

These robots transformed 2D biplanar fluoroscopy images into its own 3D robotic space for precise percutaneous renal access. Variations of the CAD/CAM robots have been used in many subspecialties of medicine, combining various imaging methods with the precision of robotics. A 3D ultrasound-guided robotic needle placement can now even account for cardiac and respiratory motion reducing invasiveness and user bias.

The modern age of surgical robots began with robotic control  systems using continuous input from surgeons to change their movements according to input in real time.

In 1993, Automated Endoscopic System for Optimal Positioning (AESOP; Computer Motion Inc., Goleta, CA, USA) was the first FDA-approved endoscopic manipulator. AESOP maneuvers the endoscopic camera according to the surgeon’s commands transmitted by either foot pedals or voice alone. With advances in robotic engineering, the integrated master-slave systems were developed allowing very complex minimally invasive surgery to be performed.

The ZEUS robotic system (Computer Motion Inc.) combined an AESOP unit with two robotic manipulator arms. A surgeon seated at a console used polarizing glasses to view a flat screen to gain a 3D image and manipulated handles to control the slave robot. Additional abilities of voice control integration and telemonitoring were provided.

The most recent edition, the da Vinci Si, was launched in April 2009 introducing improved high- definition imaging and further streamlining of the entire system. The system also allows the addition of a second surgeon console for surgical training or combined two surgeon procedures.

Future advancements will continue to change the future landscape of robotic surgery. Progress in this field has been reported recently in minimally invasive renal surgery. New tracking systems are being developed to achieve dynamic real-time overlay onto a  surgical field by accounting for the dynamic movement of the target organ.

A 3D positional correlation between the overlaid images and the surgical instruments becomes feasible without the limitations of using only real-time data acquisition. This allows CT or MRI image
overlay depending on the goals of surgery. This surgical navigation has been demonstrated during both laparoscopic partial nephrectomy and laparoscopic nerve-sparing RP.

Further developments in navigation software can improve the precision and function of the augmented reality visualization system. A body “global positioning system” has been introduced as
a new organ-tracking system.

This may soon allow for predictive navigation systems where ‘surgical radar’ will predict the ideal surgical plane before performing the actual surgical maneuver. A color-coded zonal navigation model would then be overlaid on the surgical field to help achieve better oncological and functional outcomes.

Robots are complex engineering systems that provide a range of flexibility to be utilized in an endless array of applications. Robots have been around for a while and have been advancing at a speed compatible with the advancement of computer microprocessors and computational power.
Therefore, robots have become important to industry, medicine, military operations, and weather

Robotics education at the college level faces multiple challenges. This is because of the dynamics governing the directions of development in the field of robotics. Robotics started like every other
science, at the research level, and then the design and build level. The challenge has been to produce courses and curricula which produce the best researchers and the creative designers.

Currently, there is more emphasis on robotics applications and most of the demand in the market is for engineers who can implement robotics to solve an industrial problem, as opposed to theoretical knowledge of the synthesis and analysis of robotic arms and devices.

Teaching robotics at the elementary and high school level can be costly, but this can be overcome
using lesson plans developed by experienced science teachers.

Interest in robotics has increased at an amazing pace. Educators have seen its value in educational curricular at both the college, high school and elementary levels, because the prospects in the job
market for those skilled in robotics technology is rapidly expanding.

The commercial educational robotics market is also growing. The market growth for personal robots, including those used for entertainment and educational purposes, has been tremendous
and this trend may continue over the coming decades.

Educational theorists believe that robotics activities have tremendous potential to improve classroom teaching. The impact of robotics on the k-12 curriculum will be seen in the next decade.
Educators have started to generate ideas and develop activities to incorporate robotics into the teaching of various subjects, including math, science, and engineering.

Most of the applications of robotic technology in education have mainly focused on supporting the teaching of subjects that are closely related to the Robotics field, such as robot programming, robot construction, or mechatronics.

Moreover, most of the applications have used the robot as an end or a passive tool in the learning activity, where the robot has been constructed or programmed agree that robotics should be
introduced in the classroom in a broad way and by exploring a wide range of possible applications. This will assist to engage more young people who have a wider range of interests.

For instance, young people who are not interested in the standard aspects of robotics become engaged when mechanical robotics are used to tell a story or integrated with art or music.

A classroom full of students will have a variety of interests that can be used to draw the interest of students into learning about robotics. Some may be motivated through creating motorized cars, while others may be interested in interactive sculptures. A captivated group of students can then be taught some of the concepts and technologies used in robotics.

Robotics Is Finding Success With The Treatment of Children With Autism Robotics offers tremendous possibilities for helping children diagnosed with Autism learn to speak. Advances in recent years have enabled robots to fulfill a variety of human-like functions, and more importantly, to help children learn to say and interact with the use of words.

The clinical use of interactive robots is a promising development in light of research showing that individuals with ASD: (a) exhibit strengths in understanding the physical (object-related) world and
relative weaknesses in understanding the social world; (b) are more responsive to feedback, even social feedback, when administered via technology rather than a human and (c) are more intrinsically interested in treatment when it involves electronic or robotic components .

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