Webster's dictionary defines a robot to be a machine in the form of a human being that performs the mechanical functions of a human being but lacks emotions and sensitivity. To that I'd like to add, that it's also as blind as a bat. In order for a robot to be fully autonomous, it needs self-directional mobility. But how can it do that without the God-given sonar abilities of bats? Also, a robot would need to be aware of its bulk. You know how we tend to edge in sideways when we cannot quite get through some space? (Come on now, I cant be the only one that does that.)
These questions bring about the subject of "motion planning", a major area of research in Computational Geometry. Not just for robots, its applications branch into computer graphics and virtual reality settings. Motion planning includes the study of "collision detection", to make a robot move about freely in its environment without damaging itself or others. This can be accomplished in a non static environment by programming the robot with a floor map in a Cartesian grid. The robot's movement may be vector translated (I knew that Linear Algebra stuff would come in handy) or it may have a third element (other than x,y coordinate) to determine the degree of movement about its central axis ie rotation.
As I am a novice in this field, I have included several links on this page to other very informative pages.back to top