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Meet some real-life robots, and find out what robots really are, and what they do for us every day!
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Jessi: What do you picture in your mind, when you think of … robots? Do you think of a walking, talking piece of metal like this? A lot of people do! Because some robots really do look sort of like people... But, despite what you see in the movies, most real-life robots don’t look like us. They can look like animals, like Squeaks here, or like things you’ve never even seen before.

Robots come in all different shapes and sizes, because they all have different jobs to do. And if you’re wondering what robots really are, and what they can do... you’re not alone! 7-year-old Rowan recently emailed us to ask: “What is a robot, and how do robots work?” Squeaks says “Great, question, Rowan!”

A robot is a machine that’s designed by people to do a specific job. And the scientists who design and build robots are called roboticists. Most robots do jobs that people can’t do, or don’t want to do. If a job is kind of boring -- like if it involves doing the same thing over and over -- or if a job is very dangerous -- and it means going places where people could get hurt -- then chances are, a robot has been built to do it instead!

The very first robot was built over 50 years ago to help build cars in a factory. Today, car factories still depend on robots a lot like that one to do all kinds of jobs, from putting the pieces of a car together to spraying them with paint when they’re finished. And robots work in lots of /other/ kinds of factory jobs, too -- like building computers, and even putting candies in their wrappers!

Robots are good at jobs like these, because unlike humans, they’re less likely to make mistakes when they’re working, and they don’t go on vacation, or even lunch breaks. Plus, they never get bored. They can keep going, and going, and going. This makes nighttime jobs the perfect fit for bots. They can do things like control city trains after dark while we get our sleep!

Robots can also work in places that humans would have a tough time adjusting to -- or where we could never go. There are robots that work in really hot places, like volcanoes... and really cold places like deeeep underwater in the ocean... and even in really smelly places like sewage plants. There are even robots doing jobs for us on other planets. Yup, that means there are robots in space!

There are two robots-on-wheels, named Opportunity and Curiosity, that are cruising around on Mars right now! Scientists call them rovers, and they might look like cars or go-carts, but they’re considered robots, too, because they get instructions from scientists here on Earth to do all kinds of important work -- like studying the planet’s air, digging up soil, and even drilling into rocks to see what they’re made of! Scientists hope that the discoveries that are made by Opportunity and Curiosity will help us figure out how we can one day send humans to Mars!

Another robot called R2 was sent to the International Space Station, making it the first human-like robot in space. Even though they’re not very common, there are other robots, like R2, that look and act sort of like people. One of them, called ASIMO, has been built to do some amazing, lifelike things. Although he hasn’t been to space -- yet! ASIMO can walk, run, climb stairs, and even dance!

Robots like ASIMO show us just how far roboticists have come since they built the very first robot over 50 years ago. It’ll probably be a long time before a robot can do your homework with you, or fly you to school every morning. But they’re already showing up in lot of homes, doing ordinary chores, like mowing the lawn or vacuuming the house. All we have to do is plug them in or press the START button. So, who knows what super-cool robots there will be in the next 50 years! I can’t wait to find out!

Thanks to Rowan for asking such a fun question, and thanks to you for learning about robots with Squeaks and me. And remember, if you have a question about anything you’d like to learn more about, just let us know by getting help from a parent, and leaving a comment below or emailing us at See you next time!