Introduction to Robotics
Robots can be found in many different industries and applications, from manufacturing and assembly to healthcare, transportation, and entertainment. They are often used to perform tasks that are too dangerous, difficult, or tedious for humans to do.
Robotics is Introduction to Robotics the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots. A robot is a machine that is designed to perform various tasks autonomously or with minimal human intervention. Robotics includes the study of the mechanics, electronics, and software involved in the design and operation of robots.
A robot is a programmable machine that can complete a task, while the term robotics describes the field of study focused on developing robots and automation. Each robot has a different level of autonomy. These levels range from human-controlled bots that carry out tasks to fully-autonomous bots that perform tasks without any external influences.
Types of Robotics
Mechanical bots come in all shapes and sizes to efficiently carry out the task for which they are designed. All robots vary in design, functionality and degree of autonomy. 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.
There are different types of robots that perform tasks depending on their capabilities. Below is an outline of these types and what they do.
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 its job is to perform that task longer, faster and more efficiently than a human
Humanoid robots are robots that look like 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.
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. They are quite unique because they use sensors to perceive the world around them, and then employ decision-making structures (usually a computer) to take the optimal next step based on their data and mission. One example of an autonomous robot is the Roomba vacuum cleaner, which uses sensors to roam freely throughout a home.
EXAMPLES OF AUTONOMOUS ROBOTS
Cleaning Bots (for example, Roomba)
Lawn Trimming Bots
Medical Assistant Bots
Teleoperated robots are semi-autonomous bots that use a wireless network to enable human control from a safe distance. These robots usually work in extreme geographical conditions, weather and circumstances. 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, also known as VR robots, either enhance current human capabilities or replace the capabilities a human may have lost. The field of robotics for human augmentation is a field where science fiction could become reality very soon, with bots that have the ability to redefine the definition of humanity by making humans faster and stronger. Some examples of current augmenting robots are robotic prosthetic limbs or exoskeletons used to lift hefty weights.
Software robotics, also called bots, are computer programs which carry out tasks autonomously. One common use case of software robots is a chatbot. A chatbot is a computer program that simulates conversation both online and over the phone and is often used in customer service scenarios. Chatbots can either be simple services that answer questions with an automated response or more complex digital assistants that learn from user information.
TYPES OF BOTS
Chatbots: carry out simple conversations, often in a customer service setting.
Spam Bots: collect email addresses and send spam mail.
Download Bots: download software and apps automatically.
Search Engine Crawler Bots: scan websites and make them visible on search engines.
Monitoring Bots: report on website speed and status.
APPLICATIONS OF ROBOTICS
Conservation: fighting forest fires.
Manufacturing: working in factories, finding and carrying items in warehouses.
Companionship: providing company to elderly individuals.
Healthcare: assisting in surgical procedures.
Delivery: completing food delivery and last-mile fulfillment.
Household: vacuuming and mowing the grass.
Rescue: undertaking search-and-rescue missions after natural disasters.
Military Operations: detecting landmines in war zones.
Robotics in Manufacturing The manufacturing industry is probably the oldest and most well-known user of robots. These robots and co-bots (bots that work alongside humans) work to efficiently test and assemble products, like cars and industrial equipment. It’s estimated that there are more than three million industrial robots in use right now. Logistics Robots Shipping, handling and quality control robots are becoming a must-have for most retailers and logistics companies. Because we now expect our packages to arrive at blazing speeds, logistics companies employ robots in warehouses, and even on the road, to help maximize time efficiency. Right now, there are robots taking your items off the shelves, transporting them across the warehouse floor and packaging them. Additionally, a rise in last-mile robots (robots that will autonomously deliver your package to your door) ensure that you’ll have a face-to-metal-face encounter with a logistics bot in the near future. Robots for Home It’s not science fiction anymore. Robots can be seen all over our homes, helping with chores, reminding us of our schedules and even entertaining our kids. The most well-known example of home robots is the autonomous vacuum cleaner Roomba. Additionally, robots have now evolved to do everything from autonomously mowing grass to cleaning pools. Travel Robots Is there anything more science fiction-like than autonomous vehicles? These self-driving cars are no longer just imagination. A combination of data science and robotics, self-driving vehicles are taking the world by storm. Companies like Tesla, Ford, Waymo, Volkswagen and BMW are all working on the next wave of travel that will let us sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are also developing autonomous rideshare vehicles that don’t require humans to operate the vehicle. Healthcare Robotics Robots have made enormous strides in the healthcare industry. These mechanical marvels have use in just about every aspect of healthcare, from robot-assisted surgeries to bots that help humans recover from injury in physical therapy. Examples of robots at work in healthcare are Toyota’s healthcare assistants, which help people regain the ability to walk, and TUG, a robot designed to autonomously stroll throughout a hospital and deliver everything from medicines to clean linens. Robots have been employed by pharmaceutical companies to help the fight against COVID-19. These bots are now being used to fill and seal COVID-19 testing swabs, and are also being used by some manufacturers to produce PPE and respirators.
Robotics engineers do everything from building, testing and maintaining robots to developing new interfaces for interacting with them
A robotics engineer designs, builds and tests robots and robotic platforms. Robotics engineers typically need to be skilled in math and be curious about the world around them.
Building something which can replicate ourselves or other creatures is an intrinsic desire of human beings and an intrinsic curiosity for myself as well, Li told Built In. “As a result, mother nature is always the biggest inspiration to build robotics.”
For Li, whose work has focused on the development of microrobots — essentially tiny robots that have the potential to treat disease and infection — robotics is not only a means to “understand ourselves as life”; it’s also a way to save lives.
Robotics engineers wear many different hats — designer, builder, tester, tinkerer, teacher. They also work in many different industries, building all kinds of robots ranging from autonomous mobile robots and collaborative robots that work alongside humans in warehouses to robots that print skin — like the one Deanna Hood, a robotics engineer in Australia, helped develop.
Robotics engineers have a hand in many industries and applications.
They design robots that can work alongside humans in factories or other industries like hospitality and healthcare.
They build tiny robots for biomedical use cases like monitoring and treating disease.
They also maintain robots and develop software so robots can operate autonomously.