Robotics For the Uninitiated

When people hear the word “robot,” they immediately see images of Irona, Richie Rich’s maid or the Terminator. Images of an entity with human-like appearance but with super human abilities are conjured up. In reality however, the term “robot,” encompasses so much more than just humanoid or android beings.

Furthermore, most people are intimidated when they encounter anything related to robotics. It is true, it can be a complicated subject so most people, for convenience, assume it simply means androids.

Origins of Robotics

First, what exactly is robotics? Robotics, in the simplest of explanations, involves the design and creation of robots. It also involves the study of how robots can be used to perform a variety of functions. A robot is a mechanical device designed to automate tasks that are usually performed by people.

The first industrial robot to be created was Unimate, which was utilized to perform tasks in an automotive company. It was created by Unimation, a company formed by Charles Devol and Joseph Engelberger. After the success of Unimate, companies started investing in robotics for their manufacturing operations.

Types of Robots

There are many types of robots now in existence, each with specific functions.

o Industrial Robots. Industrial robots are widely used in the manufacturing industry. Many of the tasks involved in production entail speed and accuracy as well as repetition, which is why robots are heavily relied upon to perform these tasks. Some of the industries that use robotics extensively are:

– Automobile industry
– Medical industry
– Food and Beverage manufacturing
– Pharmaceuticals

o Service Robots. There are service robots devoted for personal use as well as those tasked to perform professional functions. Two of the most popular service robots designed are Asimo, a walking humanoid and Aibo, a robot dog. Other areas where these types of robots are applied are in:

– Patient care
– Military functions
– Underwater jobs

o Telerobots. Telerobots are ideal for jobs that are highly dangerous or difficult to accomplish so they are often manipulated via a remote control device. Telerobots are used extensively in outer space exploration and military operations. Other uses for telerobots include:

– Bomb diffusion
– Surveillance
– Certain types of surgery
– Rescue operations such as the scouting of survivors in a burned building

o Mobile Robots. Mobile robots are also known as automated guided vehicles and are used to carry materials on a given location. The more advanced versions can be manipulated to function independently using an installed map as a guide.

o Agricultural Robots. These robots are still in the development stages but designers foresee that these equipments can soon be used for tasks such as planting and harvesting.

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