Robots are machines that have interested the general population throughout history. In general, they are machines or devices that operate automatically or by remote control. Clearly people have wanted to use such equipment since simple devices were developed. The word robot itself comes from Czech robota, “servitude, forced labor,” and was coined in 1923 (from dictionary.com). Since then robots have been characterized by the media as machines that look similar to humans. Robots such as “Robby the Robot” or Robot from the Lost in Space television series defined the appearance of robots to several generations. However, robots are more than machines that walk around yelling “Danger!” They are used in a variety of tasks from the very exciting, such as space exploration (e.g., the Mars Rover), to the very mundane (e.g., vacuuming your home, which is not a simple task). They are complex and useful systems that have been employed in industry for several decades. As technology advances, the capability and utility of robots have increased dramatically. Today, we have robots that assemble cars, weld, fly through hostile environments, and explore the harshest environments from the depths of the ocean, to the cold and dark environment of the Antarctic, to the hazardous depths of active volcanoes, to the farthest reaches of outer space. Robots take on tasks that people do not want to perform. Perhaps these tasks are too boring, perhaps they are too dangerous, or perhaps the robot can outperform its human counterpart.
This text is targeted at the fundamentals of robot design, implementation, and application. As robots are used in a substantial number of functions, this book only scratches the surface of their applications. However, it does provide a firmbasis for engineers and scientists interested in either fabrication or utilizing robotic systems. The first part of this handbook presents a number of design issues thatmust be considered in building and utilizing a robotic system. Both issues related to the entire robot, such as control and trajectory planning and dynamics are discussed. Critical concepts such as precision control of rotary and linear axes are also presented at they are necessary to yield optimal performance out of a robotic system.The book then continues with a number of specialized applications of robotic systems. In these applications, such as the medical arena, particular design and systems considerations are presented that are highlighted by these applications but are critical in a significant cross-section of areas. It was a pleasure to work with the authors of the various sections. They are experts in their areas, and in reviewing their material, I have improvedmy understanding of robotic systems. I hope that the readers will enjoy reading the text asmuch as I have enjoyed reading and assembling it. I anticipate that future versions of this book will incorporate more applications as well as advanced concepts in robot design and implementation.