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 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
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
Application of Robots
Robots are used for jobs that are dirty, dull and dangerous. Today robotics have many different application areas. Some of those are: