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Chapter 4. Robot Anatomy Class > Outer Shell (Optional)

Outer Shell (Optional)

Many robots are nudists. Actually, they’re worse than nudists—they go around with their guts, nerve bundles, muscles, and bones hangin’ out there for all the world to see. For most robot builders, this is a practical matter. If a robot’s not going to be subjected to the elements, live in a dirty garage, or have to ward off a frisky kitten (by the way, cats love to beat up on robots), most builders don’t bother putting a skin on it. The ugly truth of robotics is that robots “enjoy” a lot of downtime, so it’s also a convenience not having to remove screws and access panels every time a robot decides to stop working.

In situations where an outer shell is called for, that shell is made out of a variety of materials, depending on what it’s protecting the robot from. In combat robotics, these skins are used as armor, so the strongest materials possible (relative to weight concerns) are used. This usually translates to Plexiglass, Lexan, diamond plate steel, titanium, and thick layers of carbon composite. For commercial robots, such as robotic pets like AIBO, and robotic domestics, such as robo-mowers and vacuums, molded plastics are preferred. These are strong enough to take light-to-medium levels of abuse meted out by kids and cat claws, as well as the soil and turmoil of daily living.


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