A robot is a mechanical device for doing work. However, not all mechanical devices for doing work are robots. Here is my definition of a robot:


A robot must be mobile. If it doesn't have mobility, it's not a robot.


A robot must be able to physically affect it's environment. A device that merely points a camera and looks around is not a robot.


A robot must operate independently from human control for extended periods. If it's not autonomous, it's not a robot.


A robot is an artifact. Humans themselves are therefore not robots. This definition will need to be modified when robots evolve to the point that they can reproduce themselves.

All that being said, the science of robotics is concerned with the various aspects described above, so most of the research topics in this area are not concerned with complete robotic systems. For example, a researcher working in manipulation and grasping is still doing "robotics."
Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998 by Rick Wagner, all rights reserved. Created September 28, 1995. Updated October 9, 1998.

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