How do robots like ASIMO and Mahru work?

Robots like ASIMO and Mahru are sophisticated, expensive, highly technologically advanced machines that are built upon major components found in humans. Robot technicians use the inner workings of the human body as the model for the robots that they make. This modeling ensures that their robots are as lifelike as possible. First, the robot technician designs the five major components he or she will put into the robot: a body structure, a muscle system, a sensory environment, a power source, and a brain system.

Next, they build an intricate machine made up of electrical circuits, electrical valves, piston cylinders, electric motors, solenoids, hydraulic systems, and more—each plays a specific role in getting the robot to work. Every robot has a computer that controls everything else within its body. Many robots can talk and some can even smell, taste, and hear. To get the body of a robot moving, the computer must “tell” the specific part to move. If the technician wants the robot to do something new once it has been made, he or she writes a new computer program. In some cases, if the task is too big for the robot’s wiring system, new parts need to be installed. NUMBERS AND COUNTING

How does the combine harvester help farmers?

The combine harvester saves the farmers time and labor. Before modern machinery, harvesting crops was a painstaking process. Gathering and removing mature plants from the field had to be done by hand. Farm workers used sharp-bladed, long-handled scythes and curved sickles to cut down cereal crops like wheat. Even the fastest reaper could only clear about a third of an acre a day. Because rain could ruin harvested wheat, workers called sheaf-makers quickly tied it into bundles, so that it could be safely stored if the weather turned stormy. During the long winter months farm workers used jointed wooden tools called flails to thresh or beat the dried wheat in order to separate its edible grain seeds from its stalks.

But in 1786 a machine that threshed wheat by rubbing it between rollers was invented, replacing human threshers. And around 1840 a reaping machine—whose revolving wheel pressed grain stalks against a sharp blade that cut them down— replaced human harvesters. Today, farm machines called combine harvesters do this work in much the same way. These machines are very efficient and combine all three jobs of cutting, collecting, and threshing a crop. A single combine harvester can process five acres of wheat in less than an hour!