What is a Robot?

"A robot is a machine that gathers information about its environment and uses that information to follow instructions to do some sort of work. " (2000, The Tech Museum of Innovation)

What is Robotics?

Robotics is the study and engineering of robots. The field of robotics is vast and has existed for hundreds if not thousands of years. It is only in the past 50 to 100 years, that the field of robotics has advanced beyond science fiction into real, moving, thinking and acting robotics.

The History of Robotics

The word "robot" was invented in 1921 by the Czech play write Karel Capek's, when writing R.U.R., a play about the futuristic robots, that turn on their human makers and take over the world. Capek, based the term on the root robota, which means servatude or forced labor. In 1923, the play was translated into English and the term was coined into the English language.

However, the idea and design of robots has been around far longer that the term robot. Aristotle once wrote:

"If every instrument could accomplish its own work, obeying or anticipating the will of others ... if the shuttle could weave, and the pick touch the lyre, without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not need servants" (BBC Science Online, 2002).

Throughout time, the idea of machines doing the drudgerous tasks of humans has been around and fascinating to humans.

Today robots are far further along than the sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci's and far different Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, but they embody the same principles of a machine completing an arduous human task.

 

News:

2005/2006 Projects Underway!
The Robotics Academy is kicking off its fourth year with a couple of new projects underway. Tufts University seniors worked over the summer to get a head start on this years challenges.
Click here to find out more >>

Third Annual Race Across Campus!
On Friday, October 14, the Robotics Academy held the third annual Race Across Campus robotic relay race. Four teams built robots as fast as they could to overcome four different challenges.
Click here to find out more >>

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0212046. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Home Mission Program Projects Robotics People Outreach Links
©2003 Tufts University