A robot, in simple words, is any machine designed to carry out a task. This would make you say, “So, a calculator, a PC, a vacuum cleaner – all these are also robots?” Not exactly. Robots are machines that use programming to make decisions and carry out tasks. For e.g. a screwdriver is a machine because it carries out the task of fastening a screw, and reduces human effort (who knew defining a machine could be this simple?!). But it is not a robot. If we combine it with a robotic arm, then the entire thing can be called a robot.
Note: Do you know that the word ‘robot’ was first used in 1929 by a Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). This word is derived from a Czech word robota which means slavery or hard work. This clears the picture pretty much, huh?
Types of Robots
A robot can be controlled by humans, either directly, or remotely, from a place far far away.
Or a robot can take decisions, and work entirely on its own; such robots are called autonomous robots.
There also exist robots that can move from one place to another; they are known as mobile robots.
There are robots, autonomous robots, mobile robots, and then, there are autonomous mobile robots.
The last two are what we will be making later in this course.
There are many advantages that robots have over humans. Some of them are:
Robots never tire. They can work at the same speed with the same consistency without any breaks or holidays.
They are useful when you need to perform a particular task, such as bottling cans or painting cars over and over again without getting bored. This enables us to utilize our full potential in tasks that can only be done by humans.
Robots are quick. They can do a lot of work in a short duration of time. This, in turn, helps save time.
Since robots can do a greater amount of work in a shorter duration, the overall output increases.
Robots can be used to perform tasks that would be dangerous for a normal human being. They can also work in hazardous environments without the fear of any damage.
Robots can perform tasks with greater accuracy and quality than humans.
We can find robots in a multitude of fields – right from cleaning your home to celebrating birthdays on Mars. Jokes apart, in the modern world, robots have found a place in almost every field. Some of their endless applications are given below:
Industry: For handling and moving materials from one place to another, and for other purposes such as painting, manufacturing, welding, etc.
Space: For exploring outer space. E.g., the Curiosity Rover
Hospitals: Surgical robots, rehabilitation robots, pharmacy robots, etc.
Transportation: Self-driving cars, transportation of goods and services, etc.
Agriculture: For tasks such as vegetable and fruit picking.
Military: Bomb discarding robots, drone explorations, etc.
Households: For cooking, cleaning, and washing purposes.
Entertainment: Humanoids, robot dogs, mobile phones, computers, etc. E.g. Aibo the robot dog.
Now that you know what robots are and what their advantages are, let’s make our own robot with Quarky’s help!