What is Robotics | Definition, History, Types, Applications…

Robotics is an interdisciplinary sector of science and engineering dedicated to the design, construction, and use of mechanical robots. Our guide will give you a concrete grasp of robotics, including different types of robots and how they’re being applied across industries.

 

What is Robotics?

Robotics is an interdisciplinary research area at the interface of computer science and engineering. Robotics involves the design, construction, operation, and use of robots. The goal of robotics is to design intelligent machines that can help and assist humans in their day-to-day lives and keep everyone safe.

Robotics develops machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions. Robots can be used in many situations and for many purposes, but today many are used in dangerous environments (including inspection of radioactive materials, bomb detection, and deactivation), manufacturing processes, or where humans cannot survive (e.g. in space, underwater, in high heat, and clean up and containment of hazardous materials and radiation). Robots can take on any form but some are made to resemble humans in appearance. This is said to help in the acceptance of a robot in certain replicative behaviors usually performed by people. Such robots attempt to replicate walking, lifting, speech, cognition, or any other human activity. Many of today’s robots are inspired by nature, contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.

History of Robots

The history of robotics has its origins in the ancient world. The modern concept began to be developed with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, which allowed the use of complex mechanics, and the subsequent introduction of electricity. This made it possible to power machines with small compact motors. In the early 20th century, the notion of a humanoid machine was developed. Today, one can envisage human-sized robots with the capacity for near-human thoughts and movement.
What is Robotics

The first uses of modern robots were in factories as industrial robots – simple fixed machines capable of manufacturing tasks that allowed production with less need for human assistance. Digitally controlled industrial robots and robots using artificial intelligence have been built since the 2000s.

Types of Robots

There are many types of robots are available in the market but some of them are discussed below:

Mechanical bots come in all shapes and sizes to efficiently carry out the task for which they are designed. From the 0.2 millimeter-long “RoboBee” to the 200 meter-long robotic shipping vessel “Vindskip,” robots are emerging to carry out tasks that humans simply can’t. Generally, there are five types of robots:

Pre-Programmed Robots

Pre-programmed robots operate in a controlled environment where they do simple, monotonous tasks. An example of a pre-programmed robot would be a mechanical arm on an automotive assembly line. The arm serves one function — to weld a door on, to insert a certain part into the engine, etc. — and it’s job is to perform that task longer, faster, and more efficiently than a human.

Humanoid Robots

Humanoid robots are robots that look like and/or mimic human behavior. These robots usually perform human-like activities (like running, jumping, and carrying objects), and are sometimes designed to look like us, even having human faces and expressions. Two of the most prominent examples of humanoid robots are Hanson Robotics’ Sophia (in the video above) and Boston Dynamics’ Atlas.

What is Robotics

Autonomous Robots

Autonomous robots operate independently of human operators. These robots are usually designed to carry out tasks in open environments that do not require human supervision. An example of an autonomous robot would be the Roomba vacuum cleaner, which uses sensors to roam throughout a home freely.  

Teleoperated Robots

Teleoperated robots are mechanical bots controlled by humans. These robots usually work in extreme geographical conditions, weather, circumstances, etc. Examples of teleoperated robots are the human-controlled submarines used to fix underwater pipe leaks during the BP oil spill or drones used to detect landmines on a battlefield.

Augmenting Robots

Augmenting robots either enhance current human capabilities or replace the capabilities a human may have lost. Some examples of augmenting robots are robotic prosthetic limbs or exoskeletons used to lift hefty weights.

What is Robotics

Application of Robots

Robotics is the engineering science and technology which involves the conception, design, operation and manufacture of robots. Electronics, mechanics and software are brought together by robotics.
Robots are used for jobs that are dirty, dull and dangerous. Today robotics have many different application areas. Some of those are:

Outer Space Applications

Robots are playing a very important role in outer space exploration. The robotic unmanned spacecraft is used as the key to exploring the stars, planets…etc.
The most famous robots used in outer space applications are the Mars rovers of NASA. In 1997 The Pathfinder Mission landed on Mars. Its robotic rover Sojourner rolled down a ramp and onto Martian soil in early July. It continued to broadcast data from the Martian surface until September.
Sojourner performed semi-autonomous operations on the surface of Mars as part of the Mars Pathfinder mission; equipped with an obstacle avoidance program. Sojourner was capable of planning and navigating routes to study the surface of the planet. Sojourner’s ability to navigate with little data about its environment and nearby surroundings allowed the robot to react to unplanned events and objects.
After Sojourner’s mission, NASA sent twin robots Spirit and Opportunity to the Red Planet on 10, June and 23, July 2003. Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars on 4, January, and 25, January 2004.

Military Applications 

In today’s modern army robotics is an important factor that is researched and developed day by day. Already remarkable success has been achieved with unmanned aerial vehicles like the Predator drone, which are capable of taking surveillance photographs, and even accurately launching missiles at ground targets, without a pilot. There are many advantages to robotic technology in warfare, however, as outlined by Major Kenneth Rose of the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command: ”Machines don’t get tired. They don’t close their eyes. They don’t hide under trees when it rains and they don’t talk to their buddies…A human’s attention to detail on guard duty drops dramatically in the first 30 minutes, Machines know no fear.”
What is Robotics
Intelligent Home Applications 
We can monitor home security, environmental conditions, and energy usage with intelligent robotic home systems. Door and windows can be opened automatically and appliances such as lighting and air conditioning can be pre-programmed to activate. This assists occupant irrespective of their state of mobility.

Industry

From the beginning of the industrial revolution robotics and automation becomes the most important part of manufacturing. Robotic arms that are able to perform multiple tasks such as welding, cutting, lifting, sorting, and bending are used in fabrics.
The most commonly used configurations of the industrial robots are:
Articulated robots
An articulated robot is one that uses rotary joints to access its workspace.  Articulated robots can range from simple two-jointed structures to systems with 10 or more interacting joints. The six-axis, the articulated robot is the most versatile industrial robot which allows for a high level of freedom.
What is Robotics
Cylindrical Coordinate Robots
These robots have three degrees of freedom and they move linearly only along the Y and Z axes with a cylindrical work envelope.

Health Service

Under development is a robotic suit that will enable nurses to lift patients without damaging their backs. Scientists in Japan have developed a power-assisted suit that will give nurses the extra muscle they need to lift their patients – and avoid back injuries.

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