Figure from ROBOT, Moravec, Oxford, 1998, Chapter 4: Universal Robots, page 105
Universal robot extending itself

A conceptual universal robot

An omnidirectional wheelbase allows flexible movement on flat floors. Elevators, ramps, hoists, or special carrier carts would be used to change floors, climb stairs, or traverse very rough ground. The central post, on a swivel mount, is a ``bus'' that provides mechanical support, power, and control for a changeable suite of manipulators, sensors, and other accessories that rotate and ride up and down its length. One such accessory, an array of miniature cameras, gives the robot 360 degrees of stereoscopic vision, primarily for navigation. Manipulator-mounted cameras provide precise views of work objects. To reach greater heights, the robot itself can extend its post by attaching new segments. Batteries and computers in the base supply power, control, and stability. Major structural members, like the arms, are made of strong, light, composite materials. Lightweight, high-torque electric motors drive the large motions, like the wheels and arms. Even lighter, though less efficient, actuators like shape-memory metals drive the many motions of the fingers. These innovations combine to give the robot roughly the size, weight, strength, and endurance of a human in a spindly structure that resembles the cartoon broomsticks in Disney's ``The Sorcerer's Apprentice.''

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