Robots, once the stuff of science fiction, are becoming part of our everyday lives. If you think about it, you can probably name a few famous ones popularized by television and the movies. There is the blinky little R2-D2 from Star Wars and Rosie the efficient, sometimes bossy, household robot employed by the space-aged cartoon Jetsons. In some films scary robots replicate themselves an take over the world, and really creepy ones appear life-like on the outside but are wired for evil on the inside.
Just as the word robot assimilated into 20th century vocabulary, the terms android, humanoid and cyborg are now becoming part of our language today. Improved technology, and man's constant quest to build machines in his image, have led the robot evolution. While robots, humanoids and cyborgs share similar features, they are not interchangeable. Before we talk about the coolest robots ever, let's distinguish between these three types of non-human beings.
- Robots are machines programmed to follow a specific set of instructions.
- Humanoids are robots structurally designed to look and behave like humans. Androids are refined versions of humanoids intended to look as much like a person as humanly as possible
- Cyborgs are organisms with both natural/biological and mechanical/robot parts. What was once limited to science fiction, cyborgs are now a reality as people are outfitted with prosthetic limbs, pacemakers and cochlear implants.
Do you see a robot in your future?