Today, in this era of technological marvels, two terms ignite our imaginations: robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
These have often been used interchangeably.
However, the fields are distinct yet intertwined, successfully reshaping our world at a quicker pace.
But do you know what exactly they are?
Don’t you sometimes wonder how these two fields dance together to create wondrous and sometimes unnerving realities?
Let us know all about robots and artificial intelligence here.
By the end of this article, we will also be able to understand the importance of the two scientific fields—robotics and AI—working together and their advantages and disadvantages as well.
While not a scientist in the traditional sense, the Czech playwright Karel Čapek is credited with using the term “robot” for the first time in his 1920 play “R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots).”
Joseph Engelberger is often referred to as the “Father of Robotics.” He played a crucial role in bringing robots from conceptual ideas to practical applications. He co-founded Unimation with George Devol, which became the first successful robotics company that developed industrial robots capable of handling repetitive tasks in factories.
There are various definitions of robots. As per the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), ‘An industrial robot is an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which can be either fixed or mobile.’ This IFR definition specifies the industrial context and highlights the multi-axis capability.
As per Rodney Brooks, “A robot is anything embodied that exhibits intelligent behavior.“
The Robotics Society of Japan says, ‘Robotics is the integrated science and technology for real-world intelligent systems.’ This definition highlights the integration of various technological aspects.
Lastly, as per IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, ‘Robotics is concerned with the design, manufacture, and operation of robots and robotic systems.’ This definition looks at its engineering and practical aspects.
So, there is no one way to define robotics.
You can combine all the aspects and say that robotics, at its core, is the engineering and scientific discipline concerned with the design, construction, and operation of robots. These fascinating machines can range from the humanoid marvels we see on our screens to the industrial giants churning materials in factories.
All these possess the ability to sense, perceive, and manipulate the physical world.
Thus, robots are the marionettes of the technological stage that can be choreographed by the invisible hand of software and hardware.
Parts comprising a robot:
The components of a typical robot can be listed as follows:
- Sensors have the task of gathering information about the environment through cameras, LiDAR, and other tools.
- The control system of any robot has the job of processing this sensory data and determining the robot’s next move.
- Actuators translate these decisions into physical actions, allowing the robot to move, build, or interact with its surroundings.
However, robots can exhibit varying degrees of autonomy. They are not just simple puppets now that AI has come into the picture. Today, we have simple robots that follow pre-programmed routines, while others use AI to adapt to changing situations and make complex decisions.
Such AI-powered robots gather intelligence from their own experience while at the same time refining their movements and responses. This way, soon we can see the line blurring between a machine and an intelligent being.
What is AI?
At its core, artificial intelligence aims to replicate or simulate human intelligence in machines. This involves abilities like learning, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, and interacting with the environment. In other words, AI is where systems emulate the human mind to learn, make decisions, and solve problems without being specifically programmed for them.
To understand AI better, you can go through various articles on TechChilli.
AI and Robotics: The Connection
The main difference between robotics and artificial intelligence is in the approach. Robotics focuses on the manipulation of the physical area, while AI is oriented towards the internal or digital part.
Artificial Intelligence is not like one of the tangible realms of robots. Instead, it is a conceptual tapestry woven from computer science, mathematics, and cognitive science. AI aims to create intelligent machines that can think, learn, and make decisions like humans.
This process encompassed techniques ranging from the rule-based systems of early AI to the complex deep learning algorithms used these days.
AI is mainly based on machine learning. Therefore, through the analysis of vast amounts of data, these algorithms can identify patterns and relationships beyond human comprehension.
This allows AI-based systems to predict future outcomes, adapt to new situations, and generate creative content. Another aspect is deep learning, which is a subset of machine learning. This makes layered neural networks similar to the human brain, allowing them to accomplish even more complex and nuanced tasks.
On one hand, AI excels in specific tasks such as playing chess or recognizing faces. On the other hand, lies the elusive goal of general AI, that is, a machine with the intelligence and adaptability of a human. It has been the biggest aspiration of humans, which still drives research and fuels debates contesting its ethical aspects.
By integrating AI algorithms into robots, scientists can create machines that operate with greater autonomy. These machines can be intelligent as they can learn from their mistakes and interact with the world in a sophisticated manner. This synergistic relationship is changing the face of industries like healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and even space exploration.
Companies such as Vicarious use AI on turnkey robotics where the task is very complex for programmed automation.
Take a look at the picture below to understand how robots are being used in manufacturing.
There are a few examples that can be discussed. Robotics is truly benefiting from its symbiotic relationship with AI to create home marvels.
There is a conceptual robot in the name of Echo Show on wheels. Here, the robot uses AI to navigate autonomously around your house, acting as your eyes and ears when you’re not in. It has a built-in periscope camera for this activity.
Recently, iRobot, a company behind Roomba, announced that new models will use machine learning and AI to spot and avoid pet excrement. iRobot founder and CEO Colin Angle spoke to The Verge, where the concept of this robot was discussed.
As per a research paper presented by Alexander Muacevic and John R. Adler (shared by the National Institute of Health, India), ‘the use of AI with robotics in the healthcare sector has shown a remarkable rising trend in the past few years. Functions like assistance with surgery, streamlining hospital logistics, and conducting routine checkups are some of the tasks that may be managed with great efficiency using artificial intelligence in urban and rural hospitals across the country.’
As per the official data, in India, the first urologic robot named da Vinci S was set up at AIIMS, New Delhi, in 2006. This was followed by a quick, unexpected expansion of robotic surgery in the country. Till July 2019, there were 66 centers and more than 500 skilled robotic surgeons in India who had successfully performed more than 12,800 surgeries with the assistance of robots. Isn’t this fascinating in and of itself?
AI and Robotics: Path Ahead
AI and robotics have made quite a stir in the scientific community, and they do not spare the general public as well. Everyone watches sci-fi movies and is scared of some secret robotic community taking over humanity in the future. As robots become more autonomous and AI more sophisticated, mankind must take a look into issues such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and the potential displacement of human labor.
There should be advancements in AI and robotics, but at the same time, it should also be ensured that these advancements benefit humanity without unintended consequences. By harnessing the combined power of the two fields, scientists can be successful in engineering a future filled with unimaginable possibilities. However, we must tread wisely and responsibly.
The main difference between robotics and Artificial Intelligence is in the approach. Robotics focuses on the manipulation of the physical area, while AI is oriented towards the internal or digital part.
The term ‘robotics’ was used for the first time in 1920 in the play named Rossum’s Universal Robots.
AI imparts intelligence to machines whereas robotics focuses on the physical work performed by the machines. These two terms are best put together to give the best results.
As per Glassdoor, the robotics and AI engineers working at ISRO get an average salary between 15-20 LPA.