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What Is Robotic Engineering?

Robots working on an automobile assembly line.
Robot manufacturers often use a common chassis for the bomb-defusing robots used by police and the combat robots fielded by militaries.
Robotic engineers design and build robots to be used in manufacturing, research, and a number of other fields.
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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2014
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Robotic engineering is the process of developing, testing, and refining various aspects of robotic design to create more flexible, powerful, and autonomous robotic constructions. This usually describes both the process itself and the field of inquiry and study regarding developments within the field. The purpose of such engineering is usually to create new machines that are automatic or robotic in nature, and to refine existing machines or technology to improve upon previous designs. Robotic engineering may also overlap in some ways with other fields, such as artificial intelligence, to create more complicated and advanced robotic systems through integration of more powerful computer programming.

The study of robotic engineering usually involves research and understanding of various concepts within robotic construction and development. An understanding of different materials and how they can be used in creating robots, for example, can be quite important as certain metals or plastics may provide different amounts of durability and weight for a robot. This type of study may also focus on different aspects of robot development, including the morality behind such developments and different applications for robotics. A great deal of potential in robotic engineering is often associated with different ways in which developments can be realistically applied and made useful in commercial enterprises.

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Real developments in robotic engineering, therefore, are often centered on these types of practical concerns, rather than on purely hypothetical ideas. Some robotic work, for example, is done to create more complicated and useful machines in law enforcement and the military, allowing robotic constructions to undergo dangerous operations rather than putting humans at risk. There are also fields of robotic development focused on creating machines that can more effectively interface with humans. This type of robotic engineering can include medical uses of robots, such as the development of cybernetic prostheses and the use of robots and robotic tools in surgical procedures.

Robotic engineering often includes a number of other fields, and many developments in robotics stem from multi-disciplinary efforts between experts in various fields. Since the goal of a great deal of robot development is to create machines that are more autonomous, requiring less human interaction for operation, artificial intelligence and computer programming is often involved. Artificial intelligence refers to efforts made in developing computer software, through various types of programming, which mimics or emulates human thought and learning. There have already been developments in robotic engineering that have allowed one machine or robot to teach another robot to perform a task, without human programming for the second robot, and such developments reveal a great deal of potential for future robotic research and design.

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