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Building a Working Robot Step-by-Step

Engineering And Mechanics: Teaching A Robot To Walk, Computers, Controllers And Artificial Intelligence, OpticsMaterials, Sound and Voice Recognition

A robot is like a jigsaw puzzle with a million pieces, all of which must fit smoothly together if you wish to see the entire picture. The more complex a robot is, the more technology it requires to perform its functions.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, some companies are investing in the research and development of humanlike robots. The uses for a fully functioning, autonomous robot capable of learning its tasks through instruction and repetition are almost infinite. Such “smart” robots can be employed in hazardous industrial positions, in exploration of inhospitable terrain or environments (such as outer space or the ocean floor), or in numerous military applications (such as bomb defusing or mine sweeping). They can also be employed as household servants, performing menial tasks that their owners don't wish to do themselves.

One of the more advanced examples of a humanoid robot is the Honda Motor Company's Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, or Asimo. Almost every aspect of robotics engineering has been employed in the development of this one machine. In learning how a fully functioning, sophisticated robot is designed, developed, and tested, you will gain some insight into the range of jobs, specializations, and tasks that are available to robotics engineers.


Earlier versions of Asimo weighed as much as 463 pounds (210 kg), but as the engineers improved on the technology and reduced the robot's height, they started experimenting with new, lightweight materials for Asimo's “bones” and “skin.” Thanks to such weight-saving materials as its magnesium-alloy body and plastic skin, Asimo weighs in at a surprisingly light 115 pounds (52 kg).

Sound and Voice Recognition

Asimo can distinguish between different voices and other sounds. It can respond to its name, face people who are speaking to it, and even react to sudden, loud noises by turning in the direction of the sound. Asimo understands voice commands as well, with a database of spoken commands that activate various preprogrammed movements.

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