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Introduction to robotics - what are and what kind of robots exist?
This is the first in a series of articles to help you learn the basics of robotics, electronics and programming to make your first robot.
This series is inspired by the Eurobot national robotics competition, which will be held this year on April 21 in Novi Sad.
Since robotics is a multidisciplinary field, we will start this series with the basics of electronics, then the basics of microcontrollers - miniature computers that are the "brain" of robots, their programming, then we will move on to mechanics and starting motors, joysticks and finally we will make a basic robot that can serve as a base for you to move on.
In this series of articles, we will not go into creating mechanisms for solving specific tasks at the Eurobot competition 2018 - it will be your creative task
When we mention the word robot, we usually think of humanoid robots from movies, transformers or maybe robots that work in factories. Humanoid robots are called "androids", and today it is one of the most famous Sofia companies of Hanson Robotics, which you can talk to because it has built-in artificial intelligence. Watch the conversation with Sofia.
Robots that work in factories are called industrial robots, and applications can vary from robots for packing packages in warehouses, robots that assemble cars to e.g. robots that help people put out fires.
There are also movie-like transformer robots controlled by a man housed in the very body of a robot that allow people to lift and carry heavy loads.
Some companies, such as Boston Dynamics, make robots that can mimic animals and are used to carry equipment and explore the terrain. They have successfully made a cougar-like robot that runs on uneven terrain, able to balance its movements on its own, including lifting itself if it falls - a great achievement in robotics because such a thing was not possible until just a few years ago.
Drones, flying robots, are another in a series of robots that help people. The domestic company ArgoDrone is developing a system to help in agriculture. Drones record the land and provide information on the best location for growing certain types of plants in order to obtain the highest possible yield of the genus.
From these examples we see that there really are many types and applications of robots. What all robots have in common, and why we call them that, is that they are electro-mechanical assemblies that are autonomous, that is, programmed to perform certain actions independently. Some robots also have built-in artificial intelligence and can make some decisions on their own.
I believe that you are excited about the future to come and that perhaps your first robot you made from these instructions will be the beginning of an occupation that will allow you to imagine and create such a future.
As for the robot in the context of the Eurobot competition for juniors, it is necessary that it can be controlled (driven) with the help of a joystick, and that it is able to solve tasks set according to the rules of the Eurobot competition, which differ every year. This year's theme is building smart cities, and robots should be able to move balls from one part of the playing field to another, make dice buildings and turn on the light switch. A detailed description of what your robot should be able to do for the Eurobot 2018 competition can be downloaded here → Rules of the Eurobot 2018 competition for juniors.
Your first robot will probably look something like the picture above. This kind of robot needs to have motors and wheels for basic starting, a joystick for control, and its movements are controlled by a small computer called a "microcontroller" with the help of a program (software) that we will need to write.
In order to make a robot similar to the one shown above, it is necessary to go through the basics of electronics for robotics - and we will start this topic in the next article.