Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of computer science and engineering. Robotics involves design, construction, operation, and use of robots. The goal of robotics is to design machines that can help and assist humans. Robotics integrates fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, information engineering, mechatronics, electronics, bioengineering, computer engineering, control engineering, software engineering, mathematics, etc. Robotics develops machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions.
Why robotics is important?
Robotics technology influences every aspect of work and home. Robotics has the potential to positively transform lives and work practices, raise efficiency and safety levels and provide enhanced levels of service. Even more, robotics is set to become the driving technology underpinning a whole new generation of autonomous devices and cognitive artefacts that, through their learning capabilities, interact seamlessly with the world around them, and hence, provide the missing link between the digital and physical world. Robotics is already the key driver of competitiveness and flexibility in large scale manufacturing industries. Without robotics many of Europe’s successful manufacturing industries would not be able to compete from their current European bases of operation. In these industries robotics already underpins employment. Increasingly robotics is becoming more relevant for smaller manufacturing industries which are central to Europe’s manufacturing and employment capacity.
By the same token, service robotics will show far more disruptive effects on the competitiveness of nonmanufacturing industries such as agriculture, transport, healthcare, security and utilities. The growth in these areas over the coming decade will be much more dramatic. From what is currently a relatively low base, service robots used in non-manufacturing areas are expected to become the largest area of global robot sales.
Types of Robots
Aerospace: This is a broad category. It includes all sorts of flying robots—the Smart Bird robotic seagull and the Raven surveillance drone, for example—but also robots that can operate in space, such as Mars rovers and NASA’s Robonaut, the humanoid that flew to the International Space Station and is now back on Earth.
Consumer: Consumer robots are robots you can buy and use just for fun or to help you with tasks and chores. Examples are the robot dog Aibo, the Roomba vacuum, AI-powered robot assistants, and a growing variety of robotic toys and kits
Disaster Response: These robots perform dangerous jobs like searching for survivors in the aftermath of an emergency. For example, after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011, Packbots were used to inspect damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
Drones: Also called unmanned aerial vehicles, drones come in different sizes and have different levels of autonomy. Examples include DJI’s popular Phantom series and Parrot’s Anafi, as well as military systems like Global Hawk, used for longduration surveillance.
Education: This broad category is aimed at the next generation of roboticists, for use at home or in classrooms. It includes hands-on programmable sets from Lego, 3D printers with lesson plans, and even teacher robots like EMYS.
Entertainment: These robots are designed to evoke an emotional response and make us laugh or feel surprise or in awe. Among them are robot comedian RoboThespian, Disney’s theme park robots like Navi Shaman, and musically inclined bots like Partner.
Exoskeletons: Robotic exoskeletons can be used for physical rehabilitation and for enabling a paralyzed patient walk again. Some have industrial or military applications, by giving the wearer added mobility, endurance, or capacity to carry heavy loads.
Humanoids: This is probably the type of robot that most people think of when they think of a robot. Examples of humanoid robots include Honda’s Asimo, which has a mechanical appearance, and also androids like the Geminoid series, which are designed to look like people.
Industrial: The traditional industrial robot consists of a manipulator arm designed to perform repetitive tasks. An example is the Unimate, the grandfather of all factory robots. This category includes also systems like Amazon’s warehouse robots and collaborative factory robots that can operate alongside human workers.
Medical: Medical and health-care robots include systems such as the da Vinci surgical robot and bionic prostheses, as well as robotic exoskeletons. A system that may fit in this category but is not a robot is Watson, the IBM questionanswering supercomputer, which has been used in healthcare applications.
Military & Security: Military robots include ground systems like Endeavor Robotics’ PackBot, used in Iraq and Afghanistan to scout for improvised explosive devices, and BigDog, designed to assist troops in carrying heavy gear. Security robots include autonomous mobile systems such as Cobalt.
Research: The vast majority of today’s robots are born in universities and corporate research labs. Though these robots may be able to do useful things, they’re primarily intended to help researchers do, well, research. So, although some robots may fit other categories described here, they can also be called research robots.
Self-Driving Cars: Many robots can drive themselves around, and an increasing number of them can now drive you around. Early autonomous vehicles include the ones built for DARPA’s autonomous-vehicle competitions and also Google’s pioneering self-driving Toyota Prius, later spun out to form Waymo.
Telepresence: Telepresence robots allow you to be present at a place without actually going there. You log on to a robot avatar via the internet and drive it around, seeing what it sees, and talking with people. Workers can use it to collaborate with colleagues at a distant office, and doctors can use it to check on patients.
Underwater: The favorite place for these robots is in the water. They consist of deep-sea submersibles like Aquanaut, diving humanoids like Ocean One, and bio-inspired systems like the ACM-R5H snakebot.
Advantages of Robots
Cost-Effectiveness: Robots can be set to work on a repetitive cycle continuously without any break thereby increasing the production rate. This results in higher output that helps in the recovery of cost and makes profits further.
Improved Quality Assurance: Manual involvement in repetitive tasks may affect concentration levels and can lead to errors and quality failures. Robotic automation eliminates these risks by accurately producing and checking items as per specified standards. Products manufactured with more precision and consistent quality create new business possibilities for companies.
Increased Productivity: Robotic automation can tackle repetitive tasks more efficiently than humans as robots are designed to do the same without any fatigue or break. The introduction of robots into the manufacturing process can have tangible productivity benefits.
Reduced Wastage: The use of robots in the manufacturing process ensures fewer quality deviations which means there will be no material wastage due to failures or nonstandard products.
Work in Hazardous Environments: Workers in particular industries may need to work in unsuitable or dangerous environments that lead to health issues and safety risks. Automated robots can be designed and deployed to work in any environment without posing any risk to organizations and their workforce.
Consistency: Once programmed, robots can carry on with the same repetitive work with the same perfection for a long period thereby ensuring consistency in the production workflow and output.
Long Working Hours: Robots are machines that can be run for long hours if maintained properly. But humans can’t work continuously after a certain time that may lead to the risk of fatigue, injury, and other issues.
Motivated workforce: Robotic automation results in relieving the workforce from routine, laborious work and engaging them in other tasks that allow them to expand their skills. This will create a better environment from which the business as a whole will benefit. With higher energy levels and more focus on their work, the performance can only improve, which will also lead to business growth