Usborne Introduction To Robotics

Book Review



Usborne Introduction To Robotics


Tony Potter and Ivor Guild


EDC Publishing, Tulsa, OK



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

September, 2000


The Usborne Introduction To Robotics is a book about what robots are and how they work. It provides examples of existing robot designs and includes several small projects to assist in learning how  robots function. A list of special robotic words along with their meanings is included near the end of the book.

Although this book is not particularly long at 48 pages, it is extensively illustrated and this makes it easy to follow along throughout the entire text. Almost every page has at least three illustrations, many of which are in full color. The book attempts to provide the reader with a solid background of how robots function by giving enough information so that the major concepts can be understood, yet does not get bogged down in arcane terms or small details.

ama-074601466X.jpg (3545 bytes)Most of the book is dedicated to the industrial uses of robots, including extensive coverage of arm-type robots. The relationship of the design to the range of  motion and working area, and electrical, mechanical and pneumatic arm propulsion  systems are also described along with diagrams of how each design operates.  One section discusses the difficulty of designing a gripping mechanism and sensing the strength of grasp, and how sensors can be used to solve this basic problem.

Another section inside this book focuses on computer control of robots and the different types of sensors that can be added to robots to provide information about external conditions. Touch and vision sensor designs are used to assist robots to interpret the outside world. Computer controls help the robot "learn" based on prior experience, by following the actions of a human teacher, or by using the information provided by the sensor systems to make adjustments in the robot's operation. Examples are also provided to show how things can go wrong when robots have no ability to sense the results of their actions.

A number of existing robot applications are highlighted including robot trains, cleaning and personal service robots, robots in space, and walking robots. Work that humans would find hazardous or fatal can be easily accomplished by fire-fighting and bomb disposal robots. Several pages near the end of the book are dedicated to the latest developments in and applications for robotics including medical, agricultural, and industrial.

The Usborne Introduction To Robotics is a nicely illustrated book about robots that is appropriate for those wanting to learn the basic concepts behind robot design. There is enough technical information to create a firm understanding about robots without too many small details getting in the way. The book is easy enough for a young teenager to read, yet has material that an adult will find interesting. It is a great starting point to investigate the field of robotics.

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