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Robots can be autonomous or semi-autonomous and range from humanoids such as Honda's Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) and TOSY's TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot (TOPIO) to industrial robots, medical operating robots, patient assist robots, dog therapy robots, collectively programmed swarm robots, UAV drones such as General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, and even microscopic nano robots.
By mimicking a lifelike appearance or automating movements, a robot may convey a sense of intelligence or thought of its own.
The use of robots in military combat raises ethical concerns.
The possibilities of robot autonomy and potential repercussions have been addressed in fiction and may be a realistic concern in the future.
Many of today's robots are inspired by nature contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.
These robots have also created a newer branch of robotics: soft robotics.
270 BC) "applied a knowledge of pneumatics and hydraulics to produce the first organ and water clocks with moving figures." The 11th century Lokapannatti tells of how the Buddha's relics were protected by mechanical robots (bhuta vahana yanta), from the kingdom of Roma visaya (Rome); until they were disarmed by King Ashoka.
In ancient China, the 3rd-century text of the Lie Zi describes an account of humanoid automata, involving a much earlier encounter between Chinese emperor King Mu of Zhou and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an 'artificer'.
The design was probably based on anatomical research recorded in his Vitruvian Man. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, Leonardo da Vinci may have been influenced by the classic automata of al-Jazari.
His mechanism had a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bumped into little levers that operated percussion instruments.
The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns by moving the pegs to different locations.
In Japan, complex animal and human automata were built between the 17th to 19th centuries, with many described in the 18th century Karakuri zui (Illustrated Machinery, 1796).
One such automaton was the karakuri ningyō, a mechanized puppet.