Robots are also used in many ways in scientific research, particularly in the handling of radioactive or other hazardous materials. Many other highly automated systems are also often considered as robots. These include the probes that have landed on and tested the soils of the moon, Venus, and Mars, and the pilotless planes and guided missiles of the military.
None of these robots look like the androids of fiction. Although it would be possible to construct a robot that was humanlike, true androids are still only a distant possibility. For example, even the apparently simple act of walking on two legs is very hard for computer-controlled mechanical systems to duplicate. In fact, the most stable walker made, is a six-legged system. A true android would also have to house or be linked to the computer-equivalent of a human brain. Despite some claims made for the future development of artificial intelligence, computers are likely to remain calculating machines without the ability to think or create for a long time.
Research into developing mobile, autonomous robots is of great value. It advances robotics, aids the comparative study of mechanical and biological systems, and can be used for such purposes as devising robot aids for the handicapped.
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