Robot Or Not?

Robot Or Not?

Postby Johnny 5 on 25 Jun 2008, 15:16

Often not so clear these days. What is a robot anyway?

Here's what Wikipedia thinks:
A robot is a mechanical or virtual, artificial agent. It is usually a system, which, by its appearance or movements, conveys a sense that it has intent or agency of its own. The word robot can refer to both physical robots and virtual software agents, but the latter are usually referred to as bots to differentiate[1].

While there is still discussion about which machines qualify as robots, a typical robot will have several, though not necessarily all of the following properties:

1 is not 'natural' i.e. artificially created
2 can sense its environment, and manipulate or interact with things in it
3 has some ability to make choices based on the environment, often using automatic control or a preprogrammed sequence
4 is programmable
5 moves with one or more axes of rotation or translation
6 makes dexterous coordinated movements
7 appears to have intent or agency


Quite a precise definition, yet I would argue that it does not settle the question.

Over the next few days I'll post a few examples below. Looking forward to your additions!
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Re: Robot Or Not?

Postby Johnny 5 on 25 Jun 2008, 15:22

Dubai plans 'moving' skyscraper (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7472722.stm)

Robot_Skyscraper.jpg
A robotic skyscraper?
Robot_Skyscraper.jpg (12.8 KiB) Viewed 1659 times


The Dynamic Tower design is made up of 80 pre-fabricated apartments which will spin independently of one another around a central axle, changing it's shape. Floors rotate, autonomously or on user command, powered by wind turbines attached between floors.

Is it a robot? I would say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are a definite "check". Will it appear to have intent? Depends on the programming I guess, but it could definitely be made to. I say 7, check. It's a robotic building! :D
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Re: Robot Or Not?

Postby Bender on 25 Jun 2008, 15:33

Hmm, I think the word robot is generally overused in robotics labs and underused in daily life. For example, why is my dishwasher not called "robot" but a small remote controlled fly (that only "flies" attached to two wires) qualifies as flying robot? I guess today, a robot is as a machine that someone calls robot :-)

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