Department of Industrial Technology, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP,
The development of robotic telescopes has a long history with notable
efforts in the late 1960s. It is only in the 1990s that the technology has matured and
that effective robotic photometry is being demonstrated. The development of of
robotic systems on the Internet for the photometry of variable stars puts astronomy
at the forefront of the technology applications.
This paper reviews the development of robotic systems and their operation on
the Internet. It defines the requirements of a robotic system and maps out the major
applications that are being developed. Robotic systems have a unique contribution
to make to the development of photometry, enriching present practice and opening
new areas of study, e.g., in eruptive variables such as gamma-ray bursts.