Updated on 18/06/2024

Robotics is about the techniques of equipping machines with perception and action capabilities in order to perform tasks autonomously, even in a changing environment. Although its contours are somewhat vague some people consider intelligent flats to be robots, for example, and not to mention software robots that troll social networks or conversational bots. Robotics in its classical understanding concerns machines that can move or move around. In addition to various sensors that underlie perception, a robot is therefore usually equipped with actuators as well as digital hardware and software that control it all. This software, which was "pre-wired" in the early days of robotics, is increasingly based on artificial intelligence, with the aim of achieving ever greater flexibility and autonomy: continuous improvement of perception capacities, learning of increasingly complex and varied tasks, planning of trajectories in a cluttered environment, etc.
Although the first applications of robotics were industrial, starting with the manufacture of automobiles in the 1960s, other uses have since emerged: military, surgery, road or air mobility and transport, industrial site inspection, pet robotics, etc. Thus, a wide variety of robots have been developed or are being studied in academic and industrial laboratories, ranging from nano-robots to vehicles, from articulated arms to humanoid robots or even "soft robots".
Among the major challenges of robotics are very long autonomy - which requires both material progress and learning or even self-repair capabilities in the event of a breakdown - and cooperation, between robots or between robots and humans. Finally, in addition to scientific and technical considerations, robotics and its applications also raise profound ethical and social questions.