This latest entry in the graphic-nonfiction series Science Comics introduces readers to the history of robotics and explains what is and what is not a robot.
The conductor on this entertaining guided tour is a birdlike robot called Pouli, conceived by Greek mathematician Archytas and propelled by steam, the first machine to fly through the sky back in 350 B.C.E. Defining a robot as “a machine that senses something in its environment, makes a choice about what it senses, and performs an action in response,” Pouli explains how robots are everywhere, from the ocean floor and the surface of Mars to our kitchens. Robots do everything from make coffee and vacuum floors in our homes to defuse bombs and explore the interiors of volcanoes. Pouli offers a refresher on simple machines like levers and pulleys to demonstrate how those simple concepts became the building blocks for the complex machines we have today. Drones are treated as a subset of robotics rather than a separate technology. The narrative focuses on the positives robots and drones can accomplish and the human component of computer programming. Isaac Asimov, who formulated the Three Laws of Robotics, is also recognized. Chabot’s clean, full-color panels shift between illustrated anecdotes and often humorous diagrams to convey the information, and they are populated by racially and culturally diverse figures both historical and fictional. An unfortunate oversight is the lack of suggestions for further reading.
A lighthearted, enjoyable introduction to a fascinating subject. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)