Calling robot enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds: IEEE recently launched its Robots website (above), a guide to all manner of machines including androids, drones, exoskeletons, and self-driving cars. The massive guide, which contains more than 800 photos, nearly 700 videos, and 40 interactive animations, is a resource for anyone interested in robotics, including students, teachers, and professionals.
“Our plan is to add every major robotics project—commercial, research, startup—on the planet,” says Erico Guizzo, a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum who covers robotics. He, along with the magazine’s photography director, Randi Klett, built the site. There are projects from nearly 20 countries represented, with new robots being added every week.
The site is an expansion of the award-winning iPad app that IEEE Spectrum launched six years ago—which has been downloaded more than a million times. The responsive Robot site is designed to work on phones, tablets, and desktop computers.
Clicking on a robot’s image on the site, like the SpotMini above, brings up a profile, which includes its country of origin, the year it was built, and information about its creator. You can see photos and videos of the robot performing different tasks. For some bots, the site features a 360-degree view or interactive animation.
“We send photographers around the world to capture these robots in action,” Klett says.
Visitors can rate each robot based on its capabilities and appearance. The votes are tallied to create rankings, which show the top-rated, most-wanted, and creepiest robots on the site.
STEM STEPPING STONE
One of the site’s main objectives is to get children interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, Guizzo says. “We think robotics is a great entry point into STEM for kids,” he says. “This site lets them look at robots, see them move, and they get very excited.”
When IEEE Spectrum released its original Robots iPad app, schools rapidly became one of its primary users.
“The app took on a life of its own, especially among educators,” he says. “We now want to expand that audience, and this website gives even more schools access.”
To get the word out, IEEE has been working with Project Lead the Way, a STEM education nonprofit. Thanks to the partnership, Robots is already being used in hundreds of U.S. schools, Guizzo says.
Teachers are incorporating it into their curricula, he adds. Students could select a robot to describe to their classmates, for example, inspiring a discussion about tasks that robots might accomplish.
“I love that this guide can help make children curious about automation technology, so that they can learn, understand, and embrace robots,” says IEEE Senior Member Dominik Boesl, vice president of industrial activities for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, one of the project’s supporters.
Another goal of the website is to get people excited about real robots—not the ones of sci-fi movies but ones we’re going to encounter in our daily lives, Guizzo says. Examples include the da Vinci surgical robot, the Phantom video drone, the Roomba vacuum (above), and Waymo self-driving cars.
“This technology will soon be everywhere,” Guizzo says, “so it’s critical that we guide its development in ways that can benefit society.”
The site is supported in part by donations to the Spectrum Robots Guide Fund of the IEEE Foundation. Sponsors include Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Robots, Mouser Electronics, and Newark Elemant14, along with the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.
Readers can support the project here.