Patterns and processes of contemporary technology fusion: The case of intelligent robots
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This paper aims to understand the patterns and processes of contemporary technology fusion. It attempts to argue that the mechanisms of technology fusion in upstream research activities typically begin as the researcher with a cognitive map as technology interacts with another researcher holding different cognitive maps. Their interaction evolves into a collective learning that causes the generation of a new knowledge. The collective knowledge also creates a new technology after it integrates into or absorbs a codified and tacit knowledge created by a third researcher with other knowledge. The creation of collective knowledge requires purposive effort as Martin Bell argued. Under active social interaction of many researchers, the diversity of applications for a given technology is quite large so that the possibility of technology fusion to create new functions and products becomes available. In the case investigation of intelligent robots, technology fusion appears to be quite distinctive wherein core technologies such as digital data treatment, control or adjustment, and manipulation lead the integration of various technologies to produce such. The literature analysis using abstracts of 624 papers on intelligent robots provided such key words as humanoid, control, service robots, sensors, systems, vision, manipulators, learning, micro/mobile, teleoperation, software, etc. It was found that vast areas of knowledge including humanities have been integrated into research on intelligent robots. It also implies that diverse knowledge is fused or integrated in the process of basic research before the commercial development of intelligent robots.