STEMpower

National Robotics Week and Robots of the Past and Present

National Robotics Week is an annual week dedicated to celebrate the US as a leader in robotics technology development. Currently, the week is in progress and is in its seventh year. More importantly than just celebrating advancements is the goal of educating the public as to how robotics technology impacts society both now and in the future. As there is a growing number of careers dedicated to STEM, there must be individuals to fill that role, which is primarily why the week seeks to increase funding for research and development while inspiring students to pursue careers in STEM related fields (National Robotics Week, 2016).

Over the last 10 years, there has been considerable progress in the area of robotics advancement. Just to provide an overview of what the decade has produced, check out the list below for a quick snapshot of the incredible breakthroughs scientists have made in technology in the last several yeras, more specifically in robotics technology (Ang, 2013):

  • 2005: The Reproductive Robot – Considering the availability of materials, this unique machine became capable of reproducing a replica of itself, proving that self-reproduction is not limited to living beings. There is currently an availability of self-assembling robots.
  • 2008: E-Skin – Interestingly, a kind of skin was created by the University of Tokyo that gave robots an ability to “touch” and conduct electricity more easily. This was an enormous breakthrough; robots were then becoming more like humans.
  • 2009: The Robot Scientist – Adam, a fully designed robot scientist, was built to be capable of performing experiments, formulating hypotheses, and creating other tasks unique to robots
  • 2011: Bionic Legs – Typically, general prosthetics are not able to fully support the motion of paraplegics, but through scientists’ efforts, these legs were designed to help those individuals walk and climb stairs.
  • 2012: Controlling robot arms – When a person is affected by a stroke, he or she loses a great deal of control over his or her body. However, after implanting a chip into the brains of the victims, scientists were able to carefully utilize their own minds to “command a robotic arm”.
  • 2013: Kirobo – Kirobo was the first astronaut able to speak its own words. Relaying information for the first time in Japanese, Kirobo is prompted to respond to another astronaut with emotion
  • 2016: Sophia – Sophia is a fully functional humanoid who can quite literally almost do it all. The question is not if Sophia can keep up with mankind; can mankind keep up with Sophia?

The dedicated research scientists have conducted over the last several years is remarkable. To bring these robots “to life” takes a considerable amount of dedicated effort, innovation, and ingenuity. PCS wants kids to have their own opportunity to experience this kind of interaction and has done so through its development of their own robot, RiQ. RiQ is a great way to get students excited about robotics and to experiment with STEM. The last decade has brought tremendous promise in the field of robotics and it will be interesting (to say the least) as to what the future holds in this endeavor and so many other STEM fields.

National Robotics Week. (2016). Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://www.nationalroboticsweek.org/

Ang, S. (2013, October 23). 14 robotics breakthroughs from the past decade. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://mashable.com/2013/10/23/robotics-breakthroughs/#srE9nLUWSiqU