If you enjoy tinkering with gadgets or working with artificial intelligence and computers, robotics is for you. Robotics can be an enjoyable hobby that can turn into an exciting career.

Making things move : DIY mechanisms for inventors, hobbyists, and artists
Dustyn Roberts.
New York : McGraw-Hill, c2011.
Centered around basic physics principles, this volume presents how-to instructions for a variety of types of movement mechanisms for do-it-yourself projects. Intended for "makers" of all skill levels this work provides information on basic principles of motion as well as directions for creating a large selection of motors, gears, pulleys, levers, automatons and mechanical toys. Full instructions for three mechanical projects are provided and information about design and prototyping and using Arduino micro-controller boards in projects is included. The work includes photographs and technical sketches throughout and access to additional online content, including videos and blog updates, is provided. Roberts is a PhD student in mechanical engineering at New York University Polytechnic Institute. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
The new cool : a visionary teacher, his FIRST robotics team, and the ultimate battle of smarts
Neal Bascomb.
New York, N.Y. : Crown Publishers, c2011.
A MacArthur Genius Award-winning physics teacher gathers a band of high-I.Q. students who put their technical knowledge to work.

Annotation by: St. Louis Public Library staff.

Tadej Bajd ... [et al.].
Dordrecht [The Netherlands] ; New York : Springer, c2010.
This supplementary introductorynbsp;tutorial treats the following subjects: the basic characteristics of industrial robot mechanisms; the pose and movement of an object, which are described by homogenous transformation matrices; a geometric model of robot mechanism; a short introduction into kinematics and dynamics of robots; robot sensors and the planning of robot trajectories; basic control schemes resulting in either desired end-effector trajectory or force; robot grippers and feeding devices, which are described together with the basics of robot vision; the planning of robot assembly; and finally, robot standards and safety are briefly dealt with. The book concludes with a glossary in English, French and German.
Bulletproof feathers : how science uses nature's secrets to design cutting-edge technology
edited by Robert Allen.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2010.
Fabrics that are not only stain resistant but actually clean themselves. Airplane wings that change shape in midair to take advantage of shifts in wind currents. Hypodermic needles that use tiny serrations to render injections virtually pain free. Though they may sound like the stuff of science fiction, in fact such inventions represent only the most recent iterations of natural mechanisms that are billions of years old—the focus of the rapidly growing field of biomimetics. Based on the realization that natural selection has for countless eons been conducting trial-and-error experiments with the laws of physics, chemistry, material science, and engineering, biomimetics takes nature as its laboratory, looking to the most successful developments and strategies of an array of plants and animals as a source of technological innovation and ideas. Thus the lotus flower, with its waxy, water-resistant surface, gives us stainproofing; the feathers of raptors become transformable airplane wings; and the nerve-deadening serrations on a mosquito’s proboscis are adapted to hypodermics. WithBulletproof Feathers, Robert Allen brings together some of the greatest minds in the field of biomimetics to provide a fascinating—at times even jaw-dropping—overview of cutting-edge research in the field. In chapters packed with illustrations, Steven Vogel explains how architects and building engineers are drawing lessons from prairie dogs, termites, and even sand dollars in order to heat and cool buildings more efficiently; Julian Vincent goes to the very building blocks of nature, revealing how different structures and arrangements of molecules have inspired the development of some fascinating new materials, such as waterproof clothing based on shark skin; Tomonari Akamatsu shows how sonar technology has been greatly improved through detailed research into dolphin communication; Yoseph Bar-Cohen delves into the ways that robotics engineers have learned to solve design problems through reference to human musculature; Jeannette Yen explores how marine creatures have inspired a new generation of underwater robots; and Robert Allen shows us how cooperative behavior between birds, fish, and insects has inspired technological innovations in fields ranging from Web hosting to underwater exploration. A readable, yet authoritative introduction to a field that is at the forefront of design and technology—and poised to become even more important in the coming decades as population pressures and climate change make the need for efficient technological solutions more acute—Bulletproof Feathersoffers adventurous readers a tantalizing peek into the future, by way of our evolutionary past.

Robotics, the science of the technology associated with the design, creation, and use of robots, is much more than science fiction. Robots are everywhere--from the auto plant, space exploration, police mission, and hospital to cutting-edge entertainment and life-like toys that appear to think and act like humans. The basic robot today can be found as far away as the Canada Arm on the space station and as close as the television show called "Battle Bots".

Karel Capek introduced us to the name "robot" in his classic play, "Rossum's Universal Robots," back in 1921. The word "robot" is derived from the Czech word "robota," which means "forced labor.

In 1942 science fiction author Isaac Asimov used the term 'robotics' in his story "Runaround". He continued with this theme in his book "I, Robot." The Star Trek character Data 'borrowed' from his ideas. Asimov, unlike other authors of this genre, saw robots as a promising technological innovation to be exploited and managed. Indeed, Asimov's three laws of robotics, along with his 'zeroth' law defined his view and were adopted by other authors and those interested in robots. These laws are:

  • Law Zero: A robot must not merely act in the interests of individual humans, but of all humanity.
  • Law One: A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • Law Two: A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • Law Three: A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

"To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."

(Thomas Alva Edison)

Interest in robots and robotics grows as technology advances make questions about human and robot behavior more inter-related. Work continues both in the scientists' laboratory and in the homes and workshops of hobby enthusiasts. Clubs and competitions invite new members. Robot building kits can be bought at almost any hobby or electronics store, through catalogs or websites, and at local bookstores.

It is impossible to tell the future for robotics. Perhaps, one day we'll live a life like the Jetson's and let our children manage the robots!  More likely robots will attempt to make our lives easier and safer.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff