This is a broad brush overview of autonomous robotics. It covers a lot of ground and the depth is not great. But it is an outstanding introduction for just about anybody interested in autonomous robotics. To me it is interesting that the book takes such a biological approach. I have other books that actively try to cover up the biological inspiration. This book flounts it. Controls, structures, learning, software architectures, locomotion, it is all here. Although there is not a lot of depth in the volume, the chosen style and depth makes the book available to a very wide audience and the list of references is tremendous. That is after all where one learns this material.
MIT is one of the key centres of robotics and it is no surprise that this text hails from it. Bekey provides a timely survey (circa 2005) of the state of autonomous robotics. He mentions some robots which have become commercially available recently, like Sony's Aibo, or the Roomba, Asimo or Cog. While simple and cheap, these robots involve key issues of mobility, sensors and decision making.
There are several types of land locomotion. Bekey gives a summary of various efforts since the 70s, to use 4, 6 or 8 legs in a robot.
Aside from locomotion, the book covers many other topics. Such as arm motion and manipulation. This even includes the "exotic" use of neural networks to do inverse kinematics mappings. Though Bekey cautions that the slow convergence of these networks is a serious drawback to realtime usage.
The book should be very readable to someone with a general background in science or engineering. It defers specialised technical details to the papers and texts given in its references.
This book offers a good and comprehensive overview of a variety of mobile robots such as the wheeled, tracked, legged, snake, underwater and flying robots. Starting from the fundamental structural elements, it examines the software architectures for autonomous robots, locomotion, navigation, control, learning and applications. In particular, the review of humanoid robots and control of multiple robots are most interesting. There are around 200 photographs of robots which are very useful for illustration. Because of little technical details, the book is accessible to most readers.
Yes, this book provides a fine overview. I need to get the essential information to supervise development of autonomous mobile robots by a team of engineering seniors. This book does not provide me with enough technical information to know the essential abstractions, math models, etc. to guide the project.
My favorite book on the subject is still "Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots" by Sigward & Nourbahksh, because it meets my needs.
This book is friendly reading, and excellent collection. Though the humanoid robot had skyrocket change, compared with 2005. Most of the book are up to day.
I also agreed that this book is a review, and lack of detail. Anyway, it is impossible for "one book" to packed too much math or engineering detail in. Thus I still recommended this book for under-graduated school, or others who is newbie.