To the average citizen, the word "robot" conjures up images of sci-fi movies and "Lost in Space" episodes. To those who are steeped in the ways of warehousing, robots are automated material handling machines that efficiently handle repetitive tasks.
The average citizen will soon know a lot more about these automated helpmates, thanks to an article in the special robotics issue of Scientific American. "Rise of the Robot," by Seegrid Corp. co-founder and chief scientist Hans Moravec, explains how current technologies are helping robots make autonomous decisions and forecasts developments in artificial intelligence.
Moravec notes in the article that robots are not as common in material handling and manufacturing as you might expect, especially considering that automated guided vehicle (AGV) technology has been available for some 20 years. He goes on to describe the technology behind his company's three-dimensional, vision-guided industrial robots, and predicts that by 2050, the decision-making capacity of robots' "brains" will approach that of human beings.
Moravec and the launch of Seegrid were also profiled in the January 2005 issue of SciAm, in "You, robot," an article that cleverly described the forwardthinking scientist as launching the machines' "journey from warehouse drones to robo sapiens."