Recent news coverage on the Mars Rover has sparked a renewed interest in robotics. Projects like the Personal Exploration Rover (see under Education in this report) are bringing this technology to K-12 classrooms, while others are exploring the ways scientists can match the technology to the needs of people. This Topic in Depth offers a closer look into research on robotics and the many uses of robotics technology -- from space exploration to household electronics.
The Jet Propulsion Lab (1) has posted this article describing the different approaches taken to control robots. The site covers some of the advantages of behavior-based control, especially in space exploration where the use of intelligent systems can alleviate the communication delay that results from operating distant rovers from Earth. The Interaction Lab at USC (2) also conducts research on behavior-based control systems. This website describes the various projects and provides links to reports and articles on topics such as multi-robot control, and human-robot interaction and learning. The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon houses numerous projects, including the Field Robotics Center (3) for the study of mobile robots in field environments; an educational site (4) offering Robocamp for kids, teacher training, curriculum (in Spanish and English), and competitions to promote young students' learning of science and technology; and the Project on People and Robots (5), which studies the design and behavior of service robots, and their interactions with humans. Meanwhile, researchers at the Social Robots Project (6) are developing Vikia -- a robot with a human face and a personality.
Robotics Trends (7) provides an overview of current trends and links to articles on various topics, including the first robot scientist, Japan's rescue robot, and a baby simulator designed to help students of nursing train for the real thing. Finally, the uses for robotics in national defense are described more on this website for the Imaging, Robotics, and Intelligent Systems Laboratory (8).