What is Robotics?
Robotics – the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots. Most robots today are used to do repetitive actions or jobs considered too dangerous for humans. A robot is ideal for going into a building that has a possible bomb. Robots are also used in factories to build things like cars, candy bars, and electronics.
Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with physical robots. Robots are programmable machines that are generally able to carry out a series of actions autonomously, or semi-autonomously.
There are three important factors which constitute a robot:
- Robots interact with the physical world via sensors and actuators.
- Robots are programmable.
- Robots are usually autonomous or semi-autonomous.
I say that robots are “usually” autonomous because some robots are not. Telerobots, for example, is entirely controlled by a human operator but telerobotics is still classed as a branch of robotics. This is one example where the definition of robotics is not truly clear.
It is surprisingly difficult to get experts to agree on exactly what constitutes a “robot.” Some people say that a robot must be able to “think” and make decisions. However, there is no standard definition of “robot thinking.” Requiring a robot to “think” suggests that it has some level of artificial intelligence but the many non-intelligent robots that exist show that thinking cannot be a requirement for a robot.
However, you choose to define a robot, robotics involves designing, building, and programming physical robots which can interact with the physical world. Only a small part of robotics involves artificial intelligence.
Example of Robotics: Basic cobot
A simple collaborative robot (cobot) is a perfect example of a non-intelligent robot.
For example, you can easily program a cobot to pick up an object and place it elsewhere. The cobot will then continue to pick and place objects in the same way until you turn it off. This is an autonomous function because the robot does not require any human input after it has been programmed. The task does not require any intelligence because the cobot will never change what it is doing.
Most industrial robots are non-intelligent.