- Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Warning! Warning! Robots have entered the area, and they're showing up in the most unusual places! Whether it's up in space, under the sea, on a factory assembly line, or in a police bomb-squad van, robots are making a major-league impact on the world around us. While robots were once thought of as purely science fiction, as the 21st century approaches, the use of robotic technology and artificial intelligence will become as common as using a computer!
To see just how far the world of artificial intelligence has come, join us on an Internet Field Trip through the wonderful world of robotics!
Let's start by exploring some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about them. Here teachers can find information for students on just how a robot is defined, where the word robot came from, and what exactly is meant by the phrase "artificial intelligence."
Next it's a quick trip into space to see how some different robotic probes have been put to use by the NASA Space Telerobotics Program. During the summer of 1997, many around the globe watched in awe as the six-wheeled "Sojourner" robot cruised around the surface of Mars, beaming the information it gathered back to our planet. At this Web site, you can not only see "Sojourner" at play, but learn how NASA engineers work to develop probes to go "where no man has gone before." Click on the Photo Archive to glimpse many space-age robots in action. You can also get up-close and personal with the Cool Robot of the Week.
Watching robots at work is one thing, but if you ever wanted to see the world through their eyes, then Xavier is your man, er machine. You can flip though a scrapbook of Xavier in action and teach the robot some jokes.
Although robots like Xavier can see and hear, they don't really look like you and me. If you like your robots with a more human touch, then check out Cog, a humanoid robot who may become the next generation of "cyber servants." First, discover the history of Cog and find out just how this unusual robot got a start. If you have the time, you may want to see the video of Cog in action. Be patient however it takes about ten minutes to download the data and you'll need a QuickTime plug-in to view it.
After exploring what other people are doing with their robots, students might want to take a crack at designing and building one. At the Mobile Robots Group, you'll be able to get a whole bunch of ideas by checking out their own Lego Robots in action. These creations vary from simple-motion vehicles to more complex designs capable of real-time video imaging. The bottom line is that once you have checked out the possibilities, you'll discover that when it comes to robots, there are no limits!