A robot is a mechanical or virtual artificial agent that software, hardware, or firmware programming controls/guides. Most robots today are programmed to complete tasks on their own or via human direction. No longer a product of science fiction, there are a number of industries today that use of various types of robots. These include the medical, military, transportation, manufacturing, and space exploration fields.
What Are Robots Used for Today?
Robots are used for a variety of purposes in today’s society. Industrial robots have played critical roles in manufacturing plants since the 1980s and have been increasingly used in military and medical applications. Today’s robots are known to be more efficient and accurate than human beings in conducting repetitive tasks that require a high degree of accuracy. Such tasks include assembling components, painting, and conducting very precise operations that humans cannot perform.
Types of Robots
Industrial Robots – Robots now dominate industrial applications that require endurance, speed, accuracy, and reliability. Robots have progressively taken over many of the production line roles in the automobile industry that human operators previously dominated. The result has been a higher degree of productivity for the companies that employ robots. Other tasks that robots have started performing include laboratory tasks, assembling circuit boards, and palleting/packaging goods.
Agricultural Robots – Agricultural robots are being used for repetitive farm tasks such as harvesting, plowing fields, and even planting seed. Some experimentation has been done where robots are used to help sheer sheep and conduct other tasks that humans have primarily done.
Mobile Robots – These robots are used to transport material in large areas such as warehouses, container ports, and hospitals. They are referred to as autonomous or self-guided vehicles and are taught to navigate the space they are required to work around or in. These robots can conduct non-repetitive tasks in complex environments, and have gained the label, “intelligent robots” in recent years.
Telerobots – Telerobots are used to conduct tasks in environments that are too hazardous for humans to work in. Typically, humans control these remotely located robots and provide direction to the robot for it to work. The space shuttle arm, military autonomously operated vehicles, explosive ordnance disposal robots, and remote operating assistance robots are some examples of the telerobots used today. Surgeons have conducted operations while they are thousands of miles away from the patient by using telerobot technology in the past decade.
Service Robots – The Japanese were the first to invest heavily in the development and commercial deployment of service robots. Robots are now used for far more than industrial applications. They are also used in professional environments and for personal use. They are used for cleaning hazardous waste, working around the home, assisting with elderly care, and even as pets. As robot technology continues to cheapen, it is expected that the most growth will take place in the commercial robotics field of the service robot industry.