By Jeffrey A. Slotnick, CPP, PSP for Security Management, A Publication of ASIS International
February 1, 2022
Robots and robotics have been in our lives for many years, serving valuable purposes. Designed with Meccano parts and powered by a single electric motor, Griffith P. Taylor built the first known ISO compliant robot in 1937. It had five axes of movement, including a grab and rotation, and was automated by using paper tape with punches in it to energize solenoids—creating movement.
Today, the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology classifies manufacturing robots into four categories: articulated robots, Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arms (SCARA), Delta, and Cartesian.
But these are only types of industrial robots. Other types of robots are being increasingly used, in healthcare such as to accomplish the LASIK surgery I had for my correction seven years ago, to undersea, military, and space robotic solutions. Others use cases include teleoperate manipulators, prosthetics, micro-robots, consumer robots, enterprise robots, unmanned aerial vehicles, and more.
So, what are robots, really? To discuss this, we must deny our natural impulse to equate actual robots to the science fiction image that has been created for us by media—everything from the scary robots like The Terminator and HAL 2001 to the lovable and highly intelligent R2D2 and C3PO of Star Wars fame.
At their core, commercial robots assist human beings. They perform dangerous tasks that humans cannot safely do, like bomb disposal robots. They also perform repetitive mundane tasks that humans do not want to do like product sorting or spot welding and precision tasks like microsurgery.