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Robotics -- Past, Present, and Future



James S. Albus


Robotics is a system science that attempts to integrate artificial intelligence with feedback control of mechanical devices. It draws on work in pattern recognition, scene analysis, geometrical reasoning, world modeling, language and speech understanding, planning, problem solving, goal seeking, task decomposition, manipulator control, mobility, and navigation. Mankind's interest in mechanical contraptions that move and act under automatic control dates back at least to the ancient Greeks. The modern history of robotics began with work in the 1950's on mechanical manipulators for handling radioactive materials. In 1959, the first industrial robot was introduced into the commercial marketplace. Academic research into robotics began shortly thereafter at MIT, Case, Stanford and SRI. This paper will present a brief history of robotics and examine the following current research topics: (1) Kinematics, Dynamics, and Mobility (2) Vision, Kinesthetic, Tactile, and Acoustic Sensing and Sensory Processing (3) Sensory-interactive Task Decomposition, Planning, and Problem Solving (4) World Modeling (5) Programming Techniques and Learning (6) System Integration Future applications will cover a broad spectrum. Robot technology for mobility, database access, and sensing will permit robots to leave the relatively structured environment of the factory and enter the dynamic and cluttered environment of the construction site, shipyard, farm, mines, undersea drilling, etc. Eventually the cost will drop and the performance will rise to the point where robots can perform useful tasks in the service industries, and even in the home.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the AGARD/NATO Consultant Mission on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Conference Dates
September 26-October 4, 1985
Conference Title
AGARD/NATO Consultant Mission on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence


Robotics & Intelligent Systems


Albus, J. (1985), Robotics -- Past, Present, and Future, Proceedings of the AGARD/NATO Consultant Mission on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, [online], (Accessed June 19, 2024)


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Created October 4, 1985, Updated February 17, 2017