Joe Engelberger, the pioneer of the robotics industry, wrote in his 1989 book Robotics in Service that the inspiration to write his book came as a reaction to an industry-sponsored forecast study of robot applications, which predicted that in 1995 applications of robotics outside factories - the traditional domain of industrial robots - would amount to less than 1% of total sales. Engelberger believed that this forecast was very wrong, and instead predicted that the non-industrial class of robot applications would become the largest class. Engelbergers prediction has yet to come to pass. However, he did correctly foresee the growth in non-traditional applications of robots. Robots are now beginning to march from the factories and into field and service applications. This book presents a selection of papers from the first major international conference dedicated to field and service applications of robotics. This selection includes papers from the leading research laboratories in the world together with papers from companies that are building and selling new and innovative robotic technology. It describes interesting aspects of robots in the field ranging from mining, agriculture, construction, cargo handling, subsea operations, removal of landmines, to terrestrial exploration. It also covers a diverse range of service applications, such as cleaning, propagating plants and aiding the elderly and handicapped, and gives considerable attention to the technology required to realise robust, reliable and safe robots.
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