Wafers and the World of Robotics

Author:

March 10, 2021

Shop Now

While we may not yet have the technological advancements of robots from Transformers or Gundam, the world of robotics is quickly reaching new heights that many only dreamed of while watching 1980s cartoons. What you may not have known is that thin silicon wafers play an important role in these advancements, acting as a foundation for all microprocessors and microcontrollers. Without quality silicon wafers, we would not be able to see these machines rapidly become more and more advanced in just a short time. At Wafer World, we want to help you make new strides in technology, whether it be in robotics or any other piece of technology that utilizes the power of the silicon wafer. [video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="https://www.waferworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/waferworld-brandingvideo.mp4"][/video]

History of Robotics

When you think of robotics, the first thing you might think of is the classic robot – a giant piece of metal that moves around like a human. While that is a part of robotics, the technology is used daily a lot more than you might think. From self-driving cars to surveillance and surgical robots, these machines help many people complete tasks that would have otherwise been much more difficult or impossible to accomplish.

What Makes a Robot a Robot?

There are a lot of opinions and thoughts regarding what makes a robot a robot. Probably the simplest constant is that they all utilize silicon wafers to get the job done, but beyond that, answers will typically vary from person to person. Most roboticists, however, can agree on several general guidelines.

  • Robots are intelligent, physical machines
  • They can sense their surrounding environment and manipulate it
  • Robots can perform tasks at least partially autonomously

Let’s say you create a drone that can fly, but you have to control every function through a controller–this would not be considered a robot. Now let’s say you take that same drone and give it some intelligence. It senses objects and stops if it gets too close. Maybe it can land on its own. Maybe it even has an autopilot system. These functions make it more of a robot. So, how exactly did these highly advanced pieces of machinery begin? While some different inventions could be classified as a first for robots, the first creation that resembled modern-day requirements for robotics happened in the 1960s.

The Beginning

Introducing Shakey, a mobile general-purpose robot that could analyze commands and execute physical action. While far from the capabilities of today’s robots, Shakey was fairly intelligent for his time. When someone asked him to complete a task, Shakey would examine the environment, then complete the task–even if obstacles were blocking the direct path.

Thin Silicon Wafers Used in Robots to assist humans

Moving Forward

The automotive industry was quick to jump onto robots' capabilities and implement them into the manufacturing process. The Stanford Arm was created in 1969 and was capable of completing tasks to assist with production. Years later, in 1974, the Silver Arm was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The machine used an embedded sensor that was pressure sensitive and a microprocessor (or computer chip) built on top of a silicon wafer. Over the years, more and more vehicle manufacturers adapted the use of robots to speed up the car creation process. The production lines for companies such as GM, Ford, and Toyota are now fully automated. Numerous machines all work together to construct the same, identical vehicles over and over again.

Robotics of Today

Today, robotics has advanced to the point where we are getting closer and closer to realistic, humanoid machines that can complete fairly natural conversations. While we might be far away from something seen in the films Ex-Machina or Terminator, where it’s hard to tell humans from a machine, life-like robots might be closer to reality than you might think. A great example of this was the recent creation of the robot called Sophia by Hanson Robotics. This robot looks very much like an actual human being and its creator, Dr. David Hanson, believes that more advanced Sophia models will eventually be able to take on the tasks required for full-time jobs. While that’s definitely impressive, you might have your own robot around the house right now. Automated vacuum cleaners are also considered robots due to their special awareness while completing tasks without being constantly instructed. All you have to do is turn it on, and it goes to work.

Microprocessors Versus Microcontrollers

While many of today’s electronic devices use the power of a microprocessor, robotics will typically use something called a microcontroller. The main difference between these two is that microcontrollers are essentially a more advanced version of the microprocessor.

Microprocessors

A microprocessor is a single integrated circuit that combines several functions. Some of these functions include communicating with other devices and performing ALU operations.

Microcontrollers

A microcontroller is an optimized chip programmed to control electronic devices. The chip is dedicated to performing one task by executing a specific application.

The Differences

As you can see, they both sound very similar, so what are the main differences between these devices?

  • Microcontrollers have a Central Processing Unit, memory, and I/O inside the chip, while a microprocessor only has a Central Processing Unit.
  • Microprocessors interface to ROM and RAM externally, while microcontrollers complete it internally.
  • Microprocessors are more commonly used in personal computers, and microcontrollers are in embedded systems. Embedded systems have functions within another electrical or mechanical system.
polished and stored Thin Silicon Wafers

Do You Need Thin Silicon Wafers for Your Next Project?

While some movies and TV shows have given a bit of a dire warning regarding advancements in robotics, these machines can make the lives of many people a lot easier in a grounded reality. With the continuous growth in technology, who knows how helpful robots can be in the near future. At Wafer World, our goal is to provide our customers with the highest quality product possible. We put everything through stringent testing to guarantee the silicon wafers you receive are without any defects. Are you looking for silicon wafers for your robotics project or any other use? Contact the experts at Wafer World today to get a quote!