The grand challenges of Science Robotics

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Science Robotics  31 Jan 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 14, eaar7650
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aar7650


  • Fig. 1 Ten grand challenges of Science Robotics.
  • Fig. 2 Multifunctional materials.

    New materials and fabrication schemes promise a new generation of robots that are power-efficient, multifunctional, compliant, and autonomous in ways that are similar to biological organisms.

  • Fig. 3 Convergence of conditions accelerating opportunities for design of bioinspired and biohybrid robots.

    Enabling technologies, development of theory, a synthesis of systems, and application drivers all provide a foundation for a frontier. [Adapted by N. Cary/Science Robotics. Image credits: Octobot (4); RoboBee, Wyss Institute at Harvard University; StickyBot, PolyPEDAL Laboratory-Pauline Jennings, robot from M. Cutkosky, Stanford University; ray (105)].

  • Fig. 4 A summary of different energy sources for robotics.

    Power generators, which include fuel cells, classical electromagnetic generators, and solar cells. Energy storage, including batteries and capacitors/supercapacitors. Power harvesting and newly developed nanogenerators, as micro-/nano-energy sources, self-powered sensors, and flexible transducers.

  • Fig. 5 Robot swarms.

    New opportunities and research challenges.

  • Fig. 6 Intelligent explorers.

    Handling failures and being able to adapt, learn, and recover are major challenges for navigation and exploration, especially for robots operating in extreme environments. [Reproduced from (106) with permission].

  • Fig. 7 Brain-computer interfaces.

    BCIs have extensive applications in enabling paralyzed patients to communicate with and control robotic prosthetics and in rehabilitation for restoring neural function. Continuing development of BCIs will also see applications in performing mission- or safety-critical tasks.

  • Fig. 8 Social robotics.

    Social interaction requires building and maintaining complex models of people, including their knowledge, beliefs, goals, desires, and emotions.

  • Fig. 9 Medical robotics.

    From macro to micro and from large systems to small, smarter devices that can support the future development of precision medicine.

  • Fig. 10 Ethical and security risks of robotics and AI developments.CREDIT: N. CARY/SCIENCE ROBOTICS

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