It’s difficult to define what robots are, and it’s even more difficult to categorise them. Each robot has its own distinct features, and robots as a whole vary greatly in size, shape, and capabilities. Nonetheless, many robots share a variety of characteristics. Here are the 15 categories that we used to categorise robots.
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What is a Robotics
Robots are a diverse species. Some people walk around on two, four, six, or more legs, while others can fly. Some robots assist physicians during surgery inside your body, while others toil in filthy factories. There are robots as small as a coin and robots as large as a car. Some robots are capable of making pancakes. Others may be able to land on Mars.
Getting Started in Robotics
The first thing you should know (if you haven’t already) is that you’ve made an excellent decision: Robotics is rapidly expanding, and robots are expected to have a profound impact on business, healthcare, manufacturing, education, transportation, entertainment, and nearly every other productive area of society.
This is a broad classification. It includes not only flying robots like the SmartBird robotic seagull and the Raven surveillance drone, but also space-capable robots like Mars rovers and NASA’s Robonaut, the humanoid that flew to the International Space Station and is now back on Earth.
Consumer robots are robots that you can buy and use for entertainment or to assist you with tasks and chores. Aibo the robot dog, the Roomba vacuum, AI-powered robot assistants, and a growing variety of robotic toys and kits are examples.
These robots perform dangerous tasks such as searching for survivors after an emergency. Packbots, for example, were used to inspect damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011.
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, come in a variety of sizes and levels of autonomy. DJI’s popular Phantom series and Parrot’s Anafi are two examples, as are military systems like the Global Hawk, which are used for long-term surveillance.
This broad category is intended for the next generation of roboticists to use at home or in the classroom. It includes Lego hands-on programmable sets, 3D printers with lesson plans, and even EMYS teacher robots.
These robots are intended to elicit an emotional response, such as laughter, surprise, or awe. Robot comedian RoboThespian is one of them, as are Disney theme park robots like Navi Shaman and musically inclined bots like Partner.
Robotic exoskeletons can be used for physical rehabilitation and rehabilitating paralysed patients. Some have industrial or military applications, providing the wearer with increased mobility, endurance, or carrying capacity.
This is most likely the type of robot that most people envision when they consider robots. Honda’s Asimo, which has a mechanical appearance, and androids like the Geminoid series, which are designed to look like people, are examples of humanoid robots.
Traditional industrial robots are made up of a manipulator arm that is designed to perform repetitive tasks. The Unimate, the forefather of all factory robots, is one example. This category also includes systems such as Amazon’s warehouse robots and collaborative factory robots that can work alongside humans.
Medical and health-care robots include the da Vinci surgical robot, bionic prostheses, and robotic exoskeletons. Watson, the IBM question-answering supercomputer that has been used in healthcare applications, may fall into this category but is not a robot.
Military & Security
Ground systems such as Endeavor Robotics’ PackBot, which is used in many countries to scout for improvised explosive devices, and BigDog, which is designed to assist troops in carrying heavy gear, are examples of military robots. Cobalt and other autonomous mobile systems are examples of security robots.
The vast majority of today’s robots are developed in universities and corporate research laboratories. Though these robots can perform useful tasks, their primary purpose is to assist researchers in conducting research. So, while some robots may fall into one of the other categories described here, they can also be referred to as research robots.
Many robots can drive themselves, and a growing number of them can now drive you. Early autonomous vehicles include those developed for DARPA’s autonomous-vehicle competitions, as well as Google’s pioneering self-driving Toyota Prius, which was later spun off to form Waymo.
Telepresence robots allow you to be present in a location without physically visiting it. You connect to an internet-connected robot avatar and drive it around, seeing what it sees and conversing with people. It can be used by workers to collaborate with colleagues in another office, and by doctors to check on patients.
These robots prefer to spend their time in the water. Deep-sea submersibles like Aquanaut, diving humanoids like Ocean One, and bio-inspired systems like the ACM-R5H snakebot are among them.