The juxtaposition of hardware and software has always intrigued me, and is a large part of why I chose to become a Computer Engineer. Robotics is in some ways the ultimate combination of the two - and it’s a field that’s still in it’s infancy. I can’t remember the exact quote, but I believe that it was from the team leader of the Red Team in the DARPA Grand Challenge. It went something like this:

“What we’re doing [autonomous vehicle navigation] is so exciting because ten years ago it was impossible, today it’s an amazing challenge, and ten years from now it will be trivial.”

That pretty much sums things up. As we have access to more and more CPU cycles for less and less power, we suddenly have the ability to perform all sorts of numeric processes in all kinds of mobile applications that just weren’t feasible before. The first wave of robots (the dumb, behavioral Roomba kind) is already upon us and we’re starting to see more and more military development of the “intelligent” kind. It won’t be that many years until we have the processing power and the energy density to create something truly magnificent.

For more specifics, check out the Robotics Projects section.