A cutting-edge gallery of working and experimental robots, with commentary from a working cybernetics expert and side looks at robots in movies and TV.
Colorful and eye-catching as the photographs are, they’re crowded together on the pages in an unsystematic jumble. There are true robots—defined as machines that “think” (a term the author simplistically equates with “compute”) and have at least one functional appendage—along with fictional ones, prosthetics, remote-controlled devices, mechanical toys, and purely speculative images. Readers may likewise come away with confused ideas from a commentary that slips Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” into an otherwise-factual overview, offers conflicting views about how well robots can dance or perform complex tasks, and includes uselessly brief descriptions of winning entries in a 2015 contest for young engineers. For a close-up look at robotics in practice, Selbe, described in the blurb as a “conservation technologist,” adds a description of how he employs drones and other devices to study the Okavanga Delta in Botswana. The simultaneously publishing Everything Sports, by Eric Zweig with Shalise Manza Young, is similarly crowded.
An overcompressed survey, slickly produced but too superficial to impart more than a glimpse of where the field stands or is going. (review quiz, index, resource lists) (Nonfiction. 8-11)