In recent years, robots have made their way into many industries and are finding their way into even more everyday situations. From the factory floors to outer space and beyond, robotics has helped us immeasurably in numerous ways.
You’ve probably heard of self-driving cars, but how about intelligent robots that help farmers with their day-to-day tasks? At first glance, it might seem as if robotics don’t impact our society much, but that’s far from the truth.
Robots have become so prevalent in our communities that it can be hard to imagine how we ever lived without them. Their uses range from manufacturing to repairing and even performing exploratory surgery on patients.
There are several reasons that people have started incorporating robots into their everyday lives and businesses, and there are even more applications for this technology.
What is robotics?
Robotics is a field of engineering and computer science that deals with robot design, construction, operation and application. These machines can be autonomous or controlled by an external input, such as remote control.
Robots have entered many industries, including aerospace, defense, law enforcement, healthcare, manufacturing and retail. People use robots to perform tasks that are either too dangerous or repetitive.
The field of robotics requires skills in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer programming and mathematics. You can acquire these skills by pursuing a Master of Engineering in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kettering University.
Their program includes:
- Integrating electrical and computer systems
- Developing advanced mobility applications
- Designing dynamic systems
This program is also 100% online, so you will not have to leave your current job to complete the required coursework.
The main components of a robot
In today’s world, we have robots used to explore outer space and personal robots that help us in our daily lives by making our chores easier to accomplish. However, most people know little about these complicated machines’ main components. These components include the following:
A robot has many components, but the computational feature makes it function. To make a robot move, it needs to have some logic or decision-making process that tells it what to do.
For example, if you were programming a robot to go forward and stop at all red lights, you would need two pieces of code: one for going forward and another for stopping.
The program will loop back through these steps until there is no longer an obstacle in front of the robot. You can program this logic into the robot from scratch or it can be programmed using an existing code base.
A robot is nothing without sensors. There are many types, some of these include: tactile, inertial, infrared (IR), laser, proximity and ultrasound.
These sensors enable a robot to recognize obstacles, detect motion and measure distances. One type of sensor that can be used on a robot to monitor its environment is an infrared sensor.
IR sensors emit light pulses into the environment, which bounce off objects and then return to the sensor for recording.
In addition, proximity sensors measure how close or far away an object is from the sensor. Lastly, inertial sensors measure changes in acceleration due to gravity or changes in direction.
Robots need to be able to move around and explore their environment. They use electrical signals to tell their motors what direction to turn and how much power they need to move.
While most robots have six or eight wheels, some may have tracks or treads instead. Wheels are typically preferred because they can roll over obstacles more easily than treads. However, certain types of terrain, such as snow and sand, might require track-driven vehicles.
Six different types of robots and their functions
There are plenty of different types of robots, each with a unique function. Here are six common types of robots and what they do to help you understand these intricate machines.
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)
An autonomous mobile robot is a robot that can function without being connected to a fixed base station. The AMR can move around, avoiding obstacles in its path.
This robot helps explore large areas or remote locations where humans cannot go. These robots are usually equipped with sensors to help them navigate safely. AMRs often use lasers, sonar or infrared sensors to create a map of the environment they are navigating through.
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are an example of this type of robot. AUVs have been used to explore and survey the ocean floor for many years.
They use sonar technology to sense obstacles and avoid collisions with anything from marine life to other AUVs. Engineers equip these robots with high-resolution cameras, motion trackers and sound equipment, which helps researchers explore deep ocean environments.
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs)
Automated guided vehicles, also known as AGVs, are a type of robot used to transport goods. They provide a safer work environment for human workers by allowing them to travel through dangerous areas without having to expose themselves to danger.
AGVs can be programmed to follow specific routes or move along a single predetermined path. Programmers can equip them with obstacle-avoidance capabilities that keep them from colliding with other vehicles on the premises.
Many industrial manufacturers employ these robots in their warehouses and production plants because they are much more efficient than humans at performing tasks. Some AGVs even include cameras that allow operators to monitor their progress remotely via computer.
An articulated robot is a type of industrial robot that features movable joints. The most common example is the six-axis articulated arm, which has three degrees of freedom per axis.
An articulated robot can manipulate its joints in any direction. This type of robot is often used in assembly line manufacturing and for moving materials from one location to another on a conveyor belt.
Industries use them for welding, painting, assembling, handling or any other task that requires a range of motion. Another application is machine tending, where the robot assists humans in various tasks, such as loading raw materials into machines.
Articulated robots can also work with both hands simultaneously by operating two arms on either side of the object one might be working on.
Hybrid robots are a combination of two or more different types of robots. For example, a hybrid manipulator integrates a robot arm and an end-effector with sensors to allow the robot to move objects by itself.
You can use them in many settings, such as manufacturing plants, hospitals or disaster recovery sites. Hybrid robots help carry out tasks requiring mechanical skills and intelligence.
Examples include surgical procedures and automotive assembly lines. They’re also often used in research labs that carry out repetitive or dangerous tasks, such as chemical synthesis.
Developers created humanoid robots to resemble humans in shape. A human operator usually controls them remotely, but they can learn from their environment and interact with people through speech or touch.
They are useful in a wide range of situations. You can use them for caregiving, maintenance work or entertainment purposes. Some humanoid robots can go into environments that are hazardous for humans.
These robots range significantly in size and complexity depending on the task you need them to perform.
A cobot is a robot designed to work alongside humans to complete a task. Cobots typically have some level of autonomy to work independently with other machines.
The goal for these robots is to make tasks easier on the human worker while the robot performs the most mundane tasks. They are equipped with sensors to avoid human contact by slowing down or stopping if needed.
For example, if someone walks into their workspace, the cobot will stop until it’s safe to resume work. You can find these robots in factories and warehouses, but they are also starting to pop up at retailers.
How robotics is changing our lives
Robotics have impacted our society in many ways, some more readily apparent than others. In areas such as the medical industry and warfare, the positive effects of robotics are unmistakable and easily recognizable by most.
However, robotics also impact our day-to-day lives, which might not be as readily apparent at first glance but still significantly impact our well-being and security. Here are just a few ways that robotics have impacted our society and will continue to do so in the future:
Robotics’ impact on the workplace
As robots become more prevalent in the workplace, they will significantly impact our work. People can use robots to do dangerous or repetitive physical labor, such as welding and painting. Companies use robots for manual labor, such as picking up heavy objects and packing boxes of goods.
Since robots can work around the clock without getting tired, many people may become unemployed if their jobs are replaced by robots.
For example, artificial intelligence-driven systems have begun to replace some human workers in areas such as customer service, accounting and manufacturing. These systems can answer questions about products quickly and accurately.
In addition, machines can respond to questions with pre-programmed responses or through chatbots that mimic human language patterns. It is unclear how long these roles will remain in demand before machines take over completely.
Positive impact: Emergence of new jobs
Robotics have been around for decades, but it’s only recently that they’ve become affordable and accessible to the average consumer. New jobs are opening up in robotics engineering and service technician roles.
These jobs require a different skill set than traditional careers, and some individuals will find themselves transitioning from one job to another to fill these positions. There is likely to always be a need for humans in some professions because robots cannot always function independently.
For example, doctors would not want a robot operating on them because the robot does not understand human anatomy. Additionally, jobs that require substantial human emotion may not be replaceable by robots.
This is because humans can better understand other humans by reading body language and facial expressions, making it difficult for a robot to take over these jobs.
Robotics’ impact on industries
Since their first development, robots have had an impact on the way we do things. Automation has allowed us to create machines to make our lives easier by doing the dirty work that we don’t want to do ourselves.
Today, robotics has impacted society and industry in so many ways that it can be hard to track them all. Below are some of the most popular uses of robotics in enterprises today:
Agriculture and farming
Robots are an essential tool for agriculture and farming, as they can do jobs that are too labor-intensive or dangerous for humans. Agricultural robots often use GPS systems to map fields and apply fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides precisely.
This allows farmers to complete these tasks with increased efficiency. Additionally, robots can help harvest crops much faster than human workers. They can combine robotic arms with computer vision technology to identify ripe fruits and gather them without damaging anything.
The manufacturing industry utilizes robots in many ways. They can perform tasks that involve heavy lifting or exposure to hazardous conditions and can be programmed to operate on their own for hours or days at a time.
For example, they might weld parts of an automobile body frame or spray paint cars. Manufacturing industries can also use robots to detect defects, test products before final assembly or inspect finished products.
One type of robot used in the manufacturing industry is an industrial manipulator arm, which resembles a human arm due to its ability to flex and reach outwards. These arms can work with delicate objects such as silicon wafers and heavy items such as steel beams without damaging them.
Engineers can also equip industrial robots with sensors that allow them to see their environment, making decisions independently based on what they sense through sight or touch.
Robots are used in the healthcare industry to reduce human error and improve the accuracy of surgeries. For example, the da Vinci surgical robot uses 3D technology to allow surgeons to operate from a different angle, which can make for a safer procedure.
Surgeons use this machine for prostate removal, hysterectomies and heart valve replacements, among other procedures. Some healthcare facilities use AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) to navigate hospital hallways.
The robots have sensors that detect people and obstacles, so they don’t bump into anyone or anything. They also scan barcodes as they go, allowing them to provide information about patients by connecting to databases that provide specific medical records.
With such developments in the healthcare industry, nurses and physicians can devote more time to personal care for their patients.
Logistics and warehousing
Robots are used in logistics and warehousing jobs to automate the movement of objects. In this sector, engineers can program robots to pick up and deliver goods and manage inventory.
AMRs and AGVs are common types of robotics found in logistics and warehousing. Engineers design AMRs for simple picking tasks that involve repetitive actions such as moving items from one conveyor belt to another or transferring them from a vehicle onto a dock.
Autonomous guided vehicles offer better maneuverability than their counterparts and adaptive control that allows them to react quickly and stop if necessary while traveling between stations on an automated system.
Retail and hospitality
Retailers use robots to help manage inventory and provide store customer service. They come in different forms, including self-driving shopping carts that can carry up to three tons of merchandise and autonomous floor scrubbers that clean carpets as they move around the store.
Hotels also use robotic technology, including an automated baggage conveyor system that carries the luggage from check-in to rooms. They can use robotics for various tasks such as room service delivery, concierge services and even entertainment.
Smart cities use information and communications technologies (ICT) to reduce urban congestion, improve public safety and health, increase resource efficiency and enhance quality of life.
Robotics will make our future cities smarter with advanced sensing, computing and actuation capabilities. These robotic systems can perform complex tasks that are dangerous for human workers or too time-consuming to handle effectively.
They will also offer easy mobility so they can work in tight spaces or on tall structures where it would not be feasible for humans to go without being tethered or suspended from a crane.
Robotics has completely revolutionized many industries, from the medical field to surgery. We have been able to use robotics as a solution for tasks that are too dangerous or difficult for humans to do. With this technology, we will be able to accomplish more and keep people safe in the process. It is important to note that not all robots work the same way. Some may act as assistants while others do one specific task well. This makes it essential to find what works best for your industry for maximum efficiency.