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NASA's Curiosity, an autonomous vehicle sent to Mars.
NASA's Curiosity, an autonomous vehicle sent to Mars.
An Autonomous robot refers to one in which it is able to make complex decisions without human input. The level of autonomy a robot has will be dependent upon the sensors, mechanics, and software complexity in the device.

Robotic autonomy can range in large degrees. The more autonomous a robot is - generally means the software running the robot must increase in complexity. Engineers have spent decades trying to improve levels of robotic autonomy in hopes that one day robots might be able to interact and perform tasks similar to humans, however fully autonomous systems have failed time and time again when used outside of a controlled environment.

Software is responsible to how and why a robot will react to its environment - and thus, advances in autonomy will most likely come at the software level.

A fully autonomous robot has the ability to
1. Gain information about the environment (Rule #1)
2. Work for an extended period without human intervention (Rule #2)
3. Move either all or part of itself throughout its operating environment without human assistance (Rule #3)
4. Avoid situations that are harmful to people, property, or itself unless those are part of its design specifications (Rule #4)

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