Robotics deals with designing, creation, and proliferation of high quality and cost-effective robots that will be characterized by multi-functionality and convenience. In order to promote a deeper understanding of the innovative sphere of robotics, the emerging role of robots and their importance in human life have to be reviewed. Therefore, this paper provides a general overview of robotics and analyzes the main features and components of robots. Moreover, information concerning the division of robots on types according to the sphere of application will be presented. The benefits and challenges of robots will be also paid attention to. Finally, the research paper aims to determine and evaluate the significance of robots in the sphere of education. The results of the investigations are useful for understanding if robots should or should not be adopted in the sphere of education.
Robotics is the branch or field of mechanical and electrical engineering as well as computer science. In addition, robotics is purposed to design and construct robots. Besides, robotics is engaged with computer system developments for control, sensory reaction, and data processing. Robotics may be interpreted as a complex science that is aimed to produce multifunctional automated machines which will replace human beings in various dangerous as well as safe environments. The research paper aims to determine and discuss the essence of robotics. Moreover, information concerning the emerging role and importance of robotics in service will be presented. Finally, the benefits and disadvantages of robots in various spheres of human activities will be reviewed.
It is rather important to emphasize that the history of advanced robotics and automation is characterized by the periods of rapid development and durable standstill. In the twentieth century, enormous amounts of robots were installed in numerous industrial areas around the globe. As time passed, experts in robotics successfully managed to produce more flexible, faster, more qualitative, “cleverer” or more “gifted” machines. At the same time, the price of the so-called industrial robots has declined to a great extent. Besides, innovations and advancements in the field of robotics resulted in fast creation, production, and distribution of machines that were capable to perform more and more tasks which could threaten the health and employment of human beings. In due course, these automated machines extensively started to “conquer” or “master” various spheres of human life and activities.
At present, robotics is considered to be an irreplaceable and integral element of modern business, especially in certain types of industries, including welding, transportation of materials, spray finishing processes and operations, etc. Nowadays, robotic systems are usually operated by several types of power, including pneumatic, hydraulic, as well as electrical one. At the same time, electric motors have quickly managed to become a popular and prevailing means of power due to their small size. Scientists believe that robotics will drastically change the ways and methods in which various tasks are performed. Moreover, many scientists are beware of the fact that robotics promotes the phenomena of overproduction as well as under-employment among humans.
Emerging Role of Robots. Robots’ Components
The Robotics Industries Association, a USA trade group that is involved in the field of robotics, provides the following definition of a robot: a reprogrammable and feature-rich manipulator designed and produced with the purpose to transport various types of devices, tools, and other objects with the help of a system of programmed motions. In other words, a robot is referred to as a multi-component object that needs multidisciplinary knowledge that, consequently, involves sensing, actuation, as well as a particular degree of intelligent control. However, lately, in the sphere of industry, a robot has come to mean a piece of equipment and machine that is characterized by several degrees of freedom. It is extremely important to emphasize that the term “degree of freedom” is, as a rule, understood as a direction that every robot follows in case a joint is actuated. Every joint is usually responsible for a certain degree of freedom. At present, a majority of robots possess five or even six degrees of freedom. Experts in the sphere of robotics have figured out that six degrees of freedom are required in order to imitate the motion of human arm and even a wrist.
Robin Murphy places emphasize on the fact that robot is a mechanical creature that has an opportunity to function on an autonomous basis. Besides, the author of the book Introduction to AI Robotics suggests the idea that a robot is a mechanical agent or, in other words, a machine that is usually controlled with help of a specific computer program. However, the author believes that the fixed and generally accepted definition does not exist. Robots usually differ in the level of their cognition and biological form. Since the time of its creation and proliferation, a robot has purposed to replace efforts of human being. Despite the fact that many scientists in the field of robotics differentiate diverse definitions of robots, every machine that resembles a human is purposed to perform a large amount of tasks in various spheres of human life.
Every robot is exclusive and usually consists of a large number of components. It should be stated that the structure of robots is constantly changing; it is being modernized and upgraded. Because of this reason, the number of robot components is usually different. At the same time, it should be emphasized that several components are essential to functioning of particularly all robots. For instance, a hardware base, or, in other words, a mechanical platform, is a type of a device that resembles a wheeled platform or a frame and is responsible for interaction of robots with their environment. Moreover, a system of sensors is usually installed in order to give a robot an opportunity to provide a feedback. In other words, sensor systems enable robots to perform different tasks.
Robot components called ‘joints’ ensure the increased versatility of robots. With the help of joints, every robot has a chance to move, rotate, spin around, and even translate. Joints are considered to be extremely crucial elements that give more freedom to a machine that resembles a human being. The component named ‘controller’ is used in order to control the memory and logic of every robot. The controller operates as a “brain” of a robot. Power source is considered to be another integral robot component aimed to follow and fulfill the needs of a robot. It should be stated that power source may involve different variants, including power plants or solar energy, etc. Finally, the phenomenon of artificial intelligence deals with a peculiar ability of robots to “think”. Such cognitive properties as decision-making, evaluating, and learning from mistakes may be provided to a robot with help of artificial intelligence. Thus, the above mentioned components allow robots not only to resemble the appearance of human beings but also to imitate their behavior.
Types of Robots according to the Sphere of Application
Modern society is characterized by the presence of a large number of intelligent machines, which vary from the most primitive mechanisms to multi-task robots that resemble a human. For instance, mobile robots are the types of machines that are not fixed on a steady physical location. It should be stressed that these types of machines are commonly used by people in various fields of industry and security. Scientists lay stress on the fact that mobile types of robots are, as a rule, used in environments and situations that are tightly controlled as these machines do not respond accurately and quickly in unexpected interferences. Industrial robots are usually composed of a multi-linked manipulator that is attached to a fixed place. These reprogrammable and multi-task machines are widely applied in the fields of industrial automation applications. Service robots are considered to be the kinds of industrial machines that are operated either semi-autonomously or fully-autonomously. However, a service robot does not perform operations in the sphere of manufacturing.
Educational robots are no less important and widespread. The purpose of these machines is to assist in the processes of studying as well as teaching. For instance, educational robots can help children to study mathematics, physics, and other complicated disciplines. Besides, robots may play various games with small children in kindergartens and nursery schools.
Robots in the field of health and social care are designed and produced because of an enormous number of their advantages. Medical robots may vary in their shapes and sizes, starting from prototype human-like nanobots to companion machines for elderly, children, and disabled people. It should be stated that robotic technologies are broadly utilized in complex surgeries and diagnosing of patients with various illnesses. However, physicians express the opinion that the amount of robotic machines is limited. Furthermore, robots are essential in operations, patient wards, and even emergency departments. It should be added that robots may be used in the spheres of health and social care for preparing medications as well as gathering and collecting of tests. Besides, these intelligent man-like machines may bear the responsibility for carrying meals as well as medications to patients. Finally, researchers support the idea that pharmaceutical, laboratory, and disinfection robots will definitely increase the quality of health care services.
Besides, nowadays, researchers differentiate collaborative and modular robots. Collaborative types of robots are so-called computerized machines that are created to interact with human workers and carry out primitive industrial tasks. Nowadays, collaborative machines are extensively used in various spheres of human activities because of their moderate price and effectiveness. Modular robots are similar to collaborative ones. They are produced to work together with neighboring humans in various fields of science and industry. However, these robots as well as collaborative machines are designed to perform only non-complicated tasks. Due to this, a human assistant is always needed.
Advantages and Disadvantage of Robots
Nowadays, a robot is considered to be a so-called embodiment of perceptive, communicative, as well as cognitive abilities set up in an artificial organism that may or may not possess a human size or shape. With robots becoming more advanced and expanded every day, it is extremely important to understand and evaluate their benefits and disadvantages. Nowadays, robots have many beneficial characteristics. Moreover, these intelligent machines have already proven their productivity and effectiveness. The primary benefits of automated machines include decreased operating costs and enhanced quality as well as consistency of goods and services. In the sphere of industry, robots eliminate the inconveniences and problems associated with tiredness, distraction, and other consequences of repetitive as well as tedious tasks. In addition, with the help of robots, a person has an opportunity to increase and improve the quality of working conditions. Besides, intelligent robots contribute to the improvement of health and safety in the workplace. In other words, robots can perform unpleasant, dangerous, and health-threatening tasks that are usually undertaken by human workers.
A majority of robots, especially those working in various fields of industry, minimize the capital costs as these machines usually ensure fast and efficient manufacturing and production processes. Moreover, robots are designed to work in a confined space or in multiple configurations. Considering the abovementioned, the following features describe the advantages of robots’ usage in various fields of human life and work: multifunctional abilities, increased productivity, precision, speed, variable size and shape, ability to accomplish dangerous and unwanted work in almost any environment.
However, the development and usage of intelligent human-like robots is characterized by numerous weak points and disadvantages even nowadays. Firstly, the major disadvantage of robots deals with the fact that application of these machines results in over-production and under-employment. People lose jobs because many companies opt for machines that will perform enormous amounts of middle class jobs in numerous fields of industries. Secondly, despite the fact that specialists constantly improve the structure of robots, these machines are characterized by the lack of intelligence, functionality, and conscience. One of the disadvantages of robots is closely intertwined with its immoderate and excessive price. Furthermore, many workers in various spheres, including health and social care, education, and industry, are dissatisfied with the quality of work ensured by robots. Besides, deficiency of decision making power is typical to robots. Finally, at present, these intelligent machines are not profitable and cost-effective as they require permanent training, programming, and updating. Having analyzed the benefits and disadvantages of robots, a conclusion can be made that these machines, despite wide spheres of application, are not perfect and, consequently, require constant improvements and advancements.
Importance of Robots in the Sphere of Education
Robots have become an integral part of human society. Moreover, these intelligent machines rapidly penetrate in the sphere of education. Scientists lay stress on the fact that robots influence children as well as teenagers in a positive way as they promote development and intellectual growth of humans. It is rather important to stress that, with an increasing advent of technological innovations, it is becoming crucial for humans to evaluate the potential of robots as an efficient tool for learning. Intelligent computerized machines can serve as entertaining platforms that can teach children the basics of electronics, computer technologies, engineering, and a huge number of different languages from all corners of the globe. It is believed that robots enhance interaction among humans and increase students’ cooperation in the process of studying.
Despite the fact that the application of robotics enhances the development of interactive methods of problem solving, computational as well as computer thinking, it gives students a chance to develop critical and creative thinking. Besides, intelligent robots will help students to develop numerous solutions to a number of ethical situations or even problems. Robotics will help humans to work either individually or on a cooperative basis. It has already been proved in the sphere of pedagogy that collaborative learning is more efficient than individual learning. For this reason, a robot will help every child in the classroom to develop necessary collaborative learning skills. However, experts in the sphere of robotics and education have not already managed to establish if collaborative learning with a machine is more effective than the process of learning with a person. Moreover, researchers plan to estimate the effectiveness or inefficiency of robots in game experiences in the nearest future.
Apart from that, robots can provide teachers and instructors with an opportunity to “reimagine” and transform the entire process of studying. This crucial step will make children and teenagers feel the need in inquiry and discovery. As a result, students will get a unique opportunity to be engaged and, moreover, interested in the entire process of acquiring new knowledge. In case school children are given enough time, space, and motivation to learn with robots, they will certainly get a set of features peculiar to active problem solvers. As a result, students will have enough confidence and power to build theories in individual as well as collaborative contexts and settings. Furthermore, robots used in the field of education add creativity and imagination to students and teachers.
While investigating the robots effectiveness in the sphere of education, Howe came to conclusion that one of the most crucial reasons in favor of implementing robots as a teacher of “a full value” in the process of studying and acquiring knowledge was the enjoyment and interest of learners, especially those in kindergartens and primary schools. Moreover, Howe believes that robotics may be widely applied for the purpose of teaching many areas of science and technology because of the single reason that, in many cases, the knowledge and imagination of teachers are limited. On the contrary, the intellect of robots can be easily integrated across the curriculum.
In case the authorities decide to include robots into the kindergarten, school, college, or university curriculum, then the following recommendations should be taken into account. Firstly, it is rather important to settle what subjects have the need in robotic assistance. Secondly, the type of robot needed has to be established as well. Furthermore, a number of robotic options are permanently evolving and, consequently, a headmaster and school staff are obliged to weigh the pros and cons of every purchase. Finally, the price of intelligent computerized machines as well as the age of learners has to be considered as well.
To sum up, the usage of robots will drastically change various spheres of human activities, including education, industry, health and social care. Robots are quickly “conquering” the entire world and decrease the importance of humans in the role of workers. Scientists predict that the intelligence and capabilities of robots will play a key role in performing of various tasks, especially in the industrial sector. As a result, many people are afraid that expansion of robotics will result in underemployment, overproduction, and severe forms of inequality. However, nowadays, robots are characterized by a huge number of benefits as these machines create new opportunities. For instance, robots can drastically alter health and social care as they can serve as personal assistants for people in need. Furthermore, robots in industrial sector increase and improve the process of manufacturing as these machines are characterized by accuracy, speed, and high quality. Finally, application of intelligent robots in primary as well as higher education will contribute to the development of critical thinking, information perception, imagination, and creativity. Still computerized human-like robots are characterized by numerous benefits as well as challenges that require further investigations.