Types of robots: Characteristics and Classification

The world of robotics is very wide, and that is why different types of the robot are developed. Learn all about the different TYPES OF ROBOTS, which carry out the processes like any human being, not only in industry, but also at home.

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Types of robots

Before starting to classify the types of robots that exist, we will first define what a robot is. A robot is a device designed from mechanical, electronic and other parts, which are controlled by internal programming, capable of understanding its environment and performing actions that allow it to perform the tasks for which it is designed. The first applications that the robotic technology It was for the automation of industrial processes, which allowed them to mass produce in less time without exploiting their employees. Today the applications of robots vary from agriculture to space travel.

what is robotics

Robotic technology is the combination of different academic branches such as mechanics, electronics, systems, among others. This technology contributes to supply the hard work tasks that are carried out by the hand of man, and that are required to be completed quickly and with a minimum of error. 

Robotics is then the science that focuses on the research, design and development of robots, with the aim of manufacturing these mechatronic devices capable of replacing or providing support to the human being in tasks in which automation, precision and precision are necessary. speed.

Differences between a robot and a bot

It is easy to confuse the terms bot and robot, however the most distinctive difference between the two is that a robot is tangible while a bot is not. One of the components that characterize a robot is its frame or its physical structure. Instead, a bot is programming or software that runs over the Internet.

Which countries install more robots in the world

In the XNUMXs, the use of robots was mainly applied by automobile factories in Japan and the United States. Then, in the XNUMXs, Japan positioned itself as the world leader in robotics technology research, design, and development. From that moment, the types of industrial robots and their applications They diversified as technology increased.

Currently, the most developed countries in terms of robots are: the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Germany. However, today China is the leading country according to the International Federation of Robotics or the IFR for its acronym in English, who estimate that China will have 2021 robots per XNUMX inhabitants by XNUMX.

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Evolution of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

The robots were developing and becoming more automated in terms of decision making without depending on an operator to control it. This was possible because their programming and the materials or components that make up the robots evolved. This evolution of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics was divided into four generations, which we will detail later. These four generations also classify  what types of robots exist.

What is a robot for?

The development of technology has been the ideal driver for the advancement of robotics and its different applications in areas such as agriculture, fishery, mining, exploration, transportation, education, medicine, geography, environment, social relations, among others.

However, the main purpose of the existence of the different types of robots is to minimize heavy and even dangerous tasks for the human being. The impact of robots in the modern world has led to the rethinking of its internal policies for the advancement and sustainability of robot development. 

Robotics and mechatronics engineering

The academic careers that directly study the design and construction of robots are mechatronics engineering or robotics. These careers combine the sciences of mechanics, electronics, systems, computing, among others.

Origin and History of robots and the first automatons

The first notions of robots date back to the XNUMXst century BC. The hundred designs described by Ctesibius of Alexandria, Philo of Byzantium, Heron of Alexandria, and others, showed different devices capable of performing actions automatically. One initiated its action using fire, another the wind, another a coin.

It was the inventions designed by the Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo that the word "automatic" is used. The wireless remote control, the automatic chess player and the first shuttle are some of his most notable inventions. 

And we cannot talk about robots without mentioning Alan Turing, he is the one who built the foundations of robotics and artificial intelligence. The most outstanding work of his has been the decoding of the Nazi codes of the Enigma machine. This event was one of the most important elements that guaranteed victory in World War II, and also allowed the advancement of programming languages ​​that have changed technology as we know it today.

In the times of the Second World War it was when the world of science and technology advanced exponentially given the research that was carried out for the development of new weapons, medicines and technologies that provided technical solutions to the problems that were faced at that time. . 

Origin and etymology of the word robot

The Slavic word “robota” is the one that baptized robots, which refers to work done in a forced way. It was Karel Capek who made a play called RUR, which is the diminutive of Rossum's Universal Robots. In this work, a company that manufactured artificial humans worked as workers was interpreted.

What was the first real robot in history?

The first robot that existed was presented in 1936 and was called Elektro. The Elektro robot had a physical structure similar to that of a man with a height of approximately two meters and weighed one hundred and twenty kilos. He could also speak up to seven hundred words and walk.

Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov was a science fiction writer, and it was in his novel "Vicious Circle" where he wrote the Three Laws of Robotics, where he established that:

  • It cannot harm a human being.
  • He must carry out the orders given by a human being as long as he does not harm any other human.
  • It must ensure its existence as long as it is not contradictory with the first and second laws.

These laws were transported from science fiction to real life, and today robots are governed by these three laws. 

George Charles Davol, the inventor of industrial robotics

George Charles Davol is recognized worldwide as the creator of the first industrial robot. He founded together with Joseph F. Engelberger in 1948 an innovative robotics company where the first programmable machine in history was developed. This robot was adaptable and could perform different jobs, and served as the basis for the creation of future robots with industrial applications. 

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Types of robots and how they are classified

Robots have two ways of being classified either by their timeline or according to their physical structure. We will start your ranks according to your timeline:

1st Generation: Manipulator Robots

They are those robots that are managed by a human, which fulfill simple functions such as holding and moving objects. In the famous movie «Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory» a robot appears in the toothpaste factory that was in charge of placing the lid on the toothpaste tubes. He is the perfect example of one of the types of robot manipulators.

There is another type of manipulator robot that is used in the study of the SAR or the Specific Absorption Rate. In this test, a liquid with the chemical composition that simulates the composition of the human being is placed inside a container that has the shape of a man. Then, a cell phone is placed where the individual's ear would be and a call is made to this cell phone.

The operator in charge of carrying out this test indicates, using a Cartesian plane, the exact points where the robot, in this case in the form of a mechanical arm, must carry out the measurements. The robot receives the instructions through a special program and proceeds to carry out the indicated movements and measurements.

This study makes it possible to determine the effects caused by non-ionizing radiations to human beings who are exposed to them for long periods of time, such as those generated by a cell phone during a phone call. In this case, the robot fulfills a fundamental function because extreme precision is required and there are no alterations at the time of the measurements, as would happen in the case of the pulse of the human being.

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2nd Generation: Learning Robots

These robots have the ability to observe, memorize and store the experiences obtained in a database to later apply them in the future. Robots have different ways of learning, and these ways of learning are directly related to the internal programming of the robot.

learning by imitation

Robots have different ways of learning, one of them is imitation. The robot has sensors that allow it to observe an operator, record their movements and store this information in its internal memory, in order to later try to replicate them.

reinforced learning

In the same way that animals are trained by rewarding them when they successfully carry out the given command, robots are reinforced. The robot executes its first order and as it obtains positive results, then its decision making improves. Its reinforcement is to achieve a goal, for example like winning a game of chess.

Deep learning

Deep learning consists of the imitation of the neural behavior of the brain. When the natural sensors of the body capture an event, a first neuron interprets the information received, and immediately initiates a sequence of neurons that make links between them to react to the event.

In the case of robots, the sensors send the information and it is analyzed in parts. For example, a robot that has facial recognition, the first thing it does is visualize the face. By doing this, its cyberneuronal network begins the analysis of the colors that make up that face, then deciphers the geometric figures that make it up, and finally segments the face into thousands of frames or pixels to delve into the details.

Decisions Tree

A decision tree is a logical scheme that progresses as answers are provided. For example, when entering a troubleshooting system for a service failure, the system's first question is “Is your equipment turned on? Otherwise". At the moment of indicating the answer, a link is made to another logical scheme, and so on until the problem is solved.

The computational algorithms that are programmed in the robot's brain work in the same way. When an event occurs, the robot begins to execute the different schemes and stores the results obtained. Finally, when the solution or goal is successfully achieved, the robot saves the decisions or actions that resulted in success, allowing it to respond more quickly the next time the same event occurs. It can be said then that the robot learned and memorizes its experience.

3rd Generation: Robots with sensorized control

These robots react according to the information they perceive from their sensors. Its controller or internal computer indicates the actions to be taken by the robot according to the information obtained from these sensors. In addition, these robots have the ability to reprogram themselves, in order to adapt to their environment.

As can be seen, these robots depend a lot on their sensors for the execution of internal control programming. In other words, as they capture the information from their sensors, it is when the execution of their programming begins to carry out the movements and respond correctly to adapt to their environment.

A simple example of these robots is the black line follower vehicle. The infrared sensors that it has integrated are capturing the black color, causing its programming to command it to continue advancing. At the moment of deviating from the black line, the infrared sensors stop detecting the black color and their internal programming orders the course correction.

4th Generation: Intelligent Robots

These robots are constantly in feedback between the robot and its controller, which implies faster and more precise decision-making, and therefore reactions by the robot, as the event progresses.

Smart robots usually have more sophisticated sensors and more complex internal programming than third generation robots. Basically, these robots can adapt and learn from the environment around them.

Types of robots: Polyarticulated

The structure of robots is defined by their mobility or kinship to living beings. In this case, they are those robots that do not have displacement or, failing that, it is minimal, making them ideal for carrying out highly repetitive, cardinal tasks that cover a very wide area and that require great precision. 

These robots are also used to transport or perform precision work in confined spaces. There are even polyarticulated robots that participate in the construction of electronic cards, because they are of great help, since they reduce manufacturing time and allow mass production.

Types of robots: Mobile

These robots fulfill the function of making large displacements. Mobile robots are commonly used for exploration and transportation. In the case of landslides or natural phenomena, these robots are used to explore under the rubble in search of human lives, we have also seen them in high-risk areas, and even being taken to explore other planets. Their level of technology is relatively high and they are able to interpret their environment in order to adapt to it.

The most recognized mobile robot is the Curiosity robot, which is currently on the surface of the planet Mars. Its mission is to detect the biological components and processes that allow life such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus, nitrogen and sulfur.

As well as the detection of the chemical composition of the surface and the processes of erosion and formation of the terrain, the evaluation of the water cycle and the detection of radiation on the planet.

This exploration mission is made possible by the mobile robot Curiosity. It is undeniable that the performance of this task by a human being would involve extreme risk, as they would be subjected to the unknown environmental forces and agents of this planet. However, the only way to know these conditions is precisely by exploring the terrain, making the use of the robot necessary.

Robot Types: Androids

They are the robots with the most similar appearance to human beings, but also that try to imitate the behavior, learning and logic processes that man naturally performs.

The most advanced country in robotics today is Japan, which presents the most real and famous androids in the world at the National Museum of Emerging Sciences and Innovation in Tokyo.

The general objective of android robots is to physically and behaviorally imitate the human being. This includes making the motor movements of man as similar as possible, and also imitating the behavior of the human brain, in order to evaluate and respond autonomously as a person would.

However, even though androids outperform humans in certain skills, such as solving mathematical problems quickly, they lack something that is characteristic of humans, which is consciousness.

If we take «Wall-E» as a fictitious example, it can be seen that what makes Wall-E different from other robots is precisely the ability to have feelings because it developed them voluntarily, and not because they were part of its programming. He was able to feel empathy, to be aware of his own existence and needs. All of this was possible because Wall-E had a conscience. 

The first Android robot was introduced to the public in 2005 in Japan. It was an android robot with a feminine appearance or also called a gynoid, which was capable of making gestures such as breathing, blinking, moving its hands and moving its head. Then, in South Korea, the Ever-1 was presented, which could move its lips in sync with the words that the robot was saying, and also make eye contact during the conversation.

Types of robots: Zoomorphic

In this case, they are similar to Androids but with the difference that they seek to imitate the biomechanics of living beings, or the movements made by animals.

DARPA is an American agency that focuses on the financing, research and development of robotic technology focused on defense. Among these projects is the AlphaDog, which is a robot whose mission is to carry loads of up to one hundred and eighty kilograms for thirty kilometers, all this while traveling through difficult terrain such as ice, rocks, unevenness and others, and as if that were not enough, following its soldier. In addition, he has the ability to regain his balance, jump or avoid obstacles, climb stairs and get back up from a fall, without generating much noise.

All these characteristics of the AlphaDog seek to resemble the behavior and attitudes of a dog or a mule.

Types of robots: Hybrids

They are all robots that combine more than one of the characteristics mentioned above.  

Advantages of robots and robotics

Next, some of the most important advantages of using robots in the manufacturing process will be presented:

  • Reduce costs on the production line.
  • The percentage of production is increased.
  • Product quality is improved.
  • High-risk tasks are avoided for operators.
  • It is an artificial operator that, if desired, can work for 24 continuous hours without needing to take any breaks or causing fatigue.
  • Despite being expensive, the recovery of the investment is usually fast and from that moment on it does not require any salary, only maintenance expenses. 
  • For now, no additional taxes are paid for their work. 

Disadvantages of robots

Robots replace workers at strategic points of the system that allows automation

The initial investment in a system that includes robots is usually very high.

Preventive maintenance is necessary to prolong its lifespan, which implies an economic expense and stoppage of manufacturing during maintenance.

It is necessary to hire and train personnel to attend to the needs of the robots and guarantee its operation. 

Automation and industrial robotics

Industrial automation can be defined as the process of integrating elements, such as robots, that do repetitive work automatically. However, industrial robots should be confused with robots that provide services.

Types of robots according to their function

Next, the robots classified according to the area to which they are applied will be presented.

Types of robots: Industrial

Industrial robots are those that perform tasks within a production line for process automation. Generally, they are automatic movements at points of complexity or repetition. These robots are multifunctional and can be reprogrammed and are placed in controlled environments, such as temperature, to prevent damage to the robot. 

Types of robots: Service

They are usually mobile robots, that is, they can move. Unlike industrial robots, service robots are often found in controlled environments and can sometimes even work in harsh environments. Within service robots it is subdivided by the following classification:

  • Domestic: These robots are responsible for fulfilling household chores and routine tasks. Also, within this category there are robots for security and surveillance systems. One of the most commonly used home robots is the Roomba from the iRobot company.
  • Investigation: This robot is mainly found in research centers or laboratories where innovative projects are developed. They have different morphologies and are usually very specific robots or even the same research projects.
  • Exploration: As we mentioned before, there are robots that are sent to carry out exploration operations and studies of the environment. An example is the Curiosity robot that is today on the surface of the planet Mars.

Robot types: Military

The United States is one of the main countries that researches and develops robots with the purpose of being applied on the battlefields so that they provide some type of advantage against the enemy. Previously we mentioned the AlphaDog project that consists of a zoomorphic robot that is used as a cargo robot. Generally, this Types of technology It is used in the first place in the military area, which is why possibly many of the robots that may exist today are unknown.

Types of robots: Doctors

These robots are the ones that perform tasks in the area of ​​medicine. For example, they can perform precision operations as in the case of surgeons who have robotic arms that are controlled remotely by doctors.

Also, they are those robots that serve as human prostheses that can be controlled by neural pulsations, that is, controlled by the mind.

Another example of robots in the area of ​​medicine are nanorobots, which are made from molecular elements or that are within the nanometer scale. These robots can be implanted inside the human being through an intravenous so that they can fight diseases or help the regeneration of organic tissues.

educational robot toys

These robots support the educational processes of children in an entertaining way. Among the best known educational robots is the line of Lego Mindstroms. The main objective of this line is to provide children with the basic knowledge of robotics. 

The technological challenge of the future

The next challenge that robots must overcome is that of artificial intelligence. In fact, its importance is such that companies like Tesla, Google and Amazon are in the race to master this technology. 


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