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Component Two

The technology application, or Component Two, contains the science pertaining to the technology we selected in the Information and Communication category. The technology area is Intelligent Complex Adaptive Systems, or more specifically Autonomous Robotic Devices. Explained, in Component Two, is why this is a National Critical Technology, how it impacts the problem in Component One, and the limitations as well as benefits of this technology as it relates to our problem, hazardous waste.
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History of Robotics

Why it is a National Critical Technology

How it impacts the problem

Limitation relating to the problem

Benefits relating to the problem

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History of Robotics

The actual concept of robotics dates back to ancient times. Myths told by persons living in this age were carried over into the medieval era. As a result, artists living in this age carved manlike machines resembling today's robots on their magnificent clocks towering above exquisite churches and other such buildings. Later, in the eighteenth century, the town watchmakers grew more and more popular because of their small mechanical creations.

In one sense, there were actual robots around when feedback (self-correcting) control was in use. One instance in which feedback control is presently being used is that of a simple water trough. As with modern-day toilets, the water trough rises a float to tell when its water drains to a lower level. When this occurs, the float falls and signals a valve to let more water into the container, making the float rise, thus shutting the water off.

The year 1788 is marked as an important time in terms of robotic invention. James Watt devised the initial feedback controller. He made history by creating a mechanism that used two metal balls that worked together to regulate the flow of steam in the drive shaft of a steam engine. The balls work so that they close the valve letting in the steam and regulate the speed.

Feedback control had to be improved upon, special tools had to be perfected, and work had to be divided up so that smaller tasks could be done by either human workers or robotic machines in order for modern-day robots to come about. Slowly, the world started to get interested in the realm of robotics at around the eighteenth century. Over the ages, the world of robotics and the technology available to use in this specialized area of science had expanded past the wildest hopes of one's imagination. With technological opportunities getting larger by the moment, the simple forms of machines used in the eighteenth century, factories and mills have turned themselves into specialized machines working every day to perform simple tasks such as putting tops on bottle, or putting one red crayon in a Crayola box. Even if this description seems sophisticated enough for today's working environment, in reality, we are on brink of cutting edge technology. These simple devices are no match for today's complicated mechanism, some of which are able to stimulate the versatility of a human arm.

The age of the robot began with the invention of the multi-jointed artificial arm. George Devol, Jr. invented this primitive arm that could be programmed to perform very specific tasks, but was marked as an important event in the growing world of robotics. Later on, in 1975, Victor Schienmen improved upon this earlier invention, thus creating an actual flexible arm, called PUMA (Programmable Universal Manipulation Arm). Finally, after so many hard years of research and hard work, there was a robot that was capable of picking up an article and putting it down anywhere within its reach. Because of the PUMA revolution, scientists today have something to work from and work with to help them solve and create and solve more robotic mysteries.

Our most recent information has revealed a revolutionary new business science called Techno-Marketing. Mr. Robert Doornick, the President / CEO of National Robotics Inc., also an overseas engineer that helps create designs of robotics, has said, "Drawing upon society's growing fascination with science, technology and futurism, the premise being Techno-Marketing is to incorporate extraordinary and uncommon technologies, special effects, techno-art, interactive show experiences, and futuristic icons into exhibits, leisure, entertainment, resort, gaming, museum and retail properties.

In innovative environments such as Techno-Marketing, roboticists are hard at work imagining, producing and perfecting the science of robotics which in turn determines, "technological leadership" on behalf of its user, as stated by Mr. Doornick.

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Why is it a National Critical Technology?

Autonomous Robotics (included under the Critical Technology labeled Information and Communication)

"Communication is a vital part of person's life and is also important in business, education, and any other situation where people encounter each other." When thinking about the fast paced world of communication, we often don't realize what an immense role it plays in today's society. Televisions, telephones, newspapers, and letters are not the only modes of communicating. Fax machines, computers, the Internet, satellites and robotics keep people informed and updated instantly. As more scientists begin to get involved with the world of robotics and technology "the experimental becomes exploitable at record pace," as stated in the July 1997 issue of National Geographic.

Robots and computers, working separately as well as together with humans, are essential to the efficient and highly productive output of manufactured goods. Many of the larger industrialized companies in America today are looking to use robots in addition to or even in place of the human employees. Over the years, many people have experienced the numerous advantages of purchasing these useful machines, because they can produce goods of higher quality and lower costs, resulting in greater corporate profits. Unskilled jobs previously filled by low-end workers can now be performed by robots. New jobs requiring higher levels of skill and training for the installation and maintenance of the new robotic worker have now become necessary. Many companies use the savings gained from lower wages to retrain workers in this new technology. Insurance costs for companies is lowered due to reduced liability, as now the robots perform dangerous and unpleasant tasks previously performed by humans. In short, robots pay for themselves in a relatively short period of time.

The United States' economic position is primarily a result of revolutionary ground-breaking computerized technology. In order for the United States to maintain its first position, we need to be on the cutting edge of technology. Presently, other countries that threaten our leadership are slipping ahead in the technology field. What the United States has to be careful in doing is creating and maintaining global alliances. The information generated from these global alliances can be improved upon in the United States, and then used for the betterment and enrichment of human kind while also retaining our worldwide position.

Our team is most definitely aware that the technology in use in the United States today has established a world standard. The role that robotics plays in the information and communication world is immense. Ever since America had been recognized as a world leader, the robotics aspect of information and communication directly affects our national security, quality of life, and our economic growth. As a nation, we need to maintain and improve upon the technology that we now possess as it is vital to America's strength as a world leader.

The aspect of continuous terrorism flaring up in world arenas of political unrest poses a real threat to this country. The latest information warns of viral germ warfare being introduced into our own ecosystem for the purpose of killing U.S. citizens en masse. It falls to robotics, yet to be developed to protect us from such insidious crime.

Throughout the world, robots are becoming increasingly important. The world's population is beginning to take a closer look at the complicated machines that have given so may money-saving and efficient uses. The future lies in the hands of those creating these innovative mechanical beings.

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How it impacts the problem:

The study of hazardous waste is closely related to the inspection of the pipelines, tanks, and other difficult to access areas in which the waste is stored. Presently for inspection purposes, a robot has been developed that can maneuver in these cramped areas.

One such device is the Pneu-worm. This robot is capable of moving around the insides of pipes, tanks, and other tight spots that need to checked. The Pneu-worm 's design and action offers new, state-of-the-art inspection capabilities. The Pneu-worm does what humans and other robots can not do. Being of small size and without clunky wheels and tank-like tracks, it can climb vertically, and make sharp turns, unlike other robots.

The Pneu-worm moves forward and upward. There are inflatable bladders around its tail and head. To go forward, the tail bladder blows up with air, so it will grip the wall of the pipe. The head bladder stays unpressurized, to enable a crawling movement.

The ability of the robot to undertake tasks that we as humans can already do but perform them with a greater degree of precision impacts hazardous waste detection. With minuscule size and ability to crawl where no humans could possibly fit, a great opportunity is presented. Also with the advanced technology of the 20th century, the combined total of these two concepts is a giant step toward the detection of hazardous waste. And as factories continue to manufacture smaller and smaller electronic devices, the size of the robot will also begin to shrink. Where as our past has relied upon manual labor and humans, our future will depend upon autonomous robots and micro machines.

This is a picture of a solar powered robotic butterfly taken from National Geographic. July 1997. There are many other 'bugs' like this, and when put in sun, they all fight for the rays, by trying to push the other 'bug' out of their way. This autonomous robotic device is an example of how small and unique the 'robot ' has become.

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Limitations relating to the problem:

When using autonomous robotic devices, there are many benefits as well as limitations. The size of these robots poses many problems of different natures. For example, because of the small pieces, precise measurements, and time in which it takes in order to create these robots, there is the possibility that the production of robots in order to detect hazardous waste would be very costly, therefore limiting the amount that can be made. Another problem with the size of the robot is that this means it is fragile. Therefore, the possibility of having technical difficulty and it breaking easily if not 'cared for' properly is greater. Also, the smaller the robot, the less stability it has, meaning it would not move very easily over rough terrain. Possibly even things such as rust, paint chips, and dirt located on a (gas) tank of some sort, may cause problems for the robot.

As far as larger robots are concerned, they are just as costly as the small robots, if not more. Robert Doornick, President and CEO of International Robotics,Inc. and our technical advisor, is an engineer whose company designs and creates robots. Mr. Doornick wrote us stating, "There are different sources for building experimental robots, ranging in price from under one hundred dollars to fifty-thousand dollars. However, there are less costly robots. The Jayso Electronics Cooperation manufactures Robot Kits, made in Asia, which demonstrate different principles of engineering and interactive capabilities. These cost from twenty-five dollars to sixty dollars and can be purchased either fully assembled or in kit form.

Even though the possibility isn't as great, the thought of having technical difficulties and unpredictable occurrences is still a problem. They might be able to move better over rough terrain, but once again, things such as small hills, rocks, and mud may cause difficulties for the micro-robot.

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Benefits relating to the problem:

However, despite the issues of cost and size, there are many advantages or benefits to creating these autonomous robotic devices. Obviously, they can detect hazardous waste, and possibly stop problems before they start, saving towns, economies, as most importantly, lives. Not only will these robots save the lives of those who might become endangered (because it is in their water systems, etc.), they would save the lives of those who have to handle the hazardous waste material, because robots are capable of operating in locations and conditions hazardous to human health. In addition, these robots can also offer the advantage of being able to perform the 'routines' or tasks more quickly, and accurately than humans.

If these robots were to be 'put on the market' and 'mass-produced', the job market would be affected greatly, both negatively and positively. For one positive effect, new jobs would be created in the software and sensor department, as well as in robot installation and maintenance. This would also call for the conversion of old factories and design of new ones to keep up with the growing demands. However, due to the fact that it would become assembly line work, it would require a lower level of skill and training.

So in conclusion, there are many limitations and benefits to creating autonomous robotic devices in order to detect hazardous waste. Size plays a big part in the limitations of these machines, however, when working, they can save the lives of hundreds even thousands of people. In the end, the price of these robots may be lower than the price towns, economies, and families might have to pay.

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