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Robotics - Types of Robots

Ask a number of people to describe a robot and most of them will answer they look like a human.  Interestingly a robot that looks like a human is probably the most difficult robot to make.  Is is usually a waste of time and not the most sensible thing to model a robot after a human being.  A robot needs to be above all functional and designed with qualities that suits its primary tasks.  It depends on the task at hand whether the robot is big, small, able to move or nailed to the ground.  Each and every task means different qualities, form and function, a robot needs to be designed with the task in mind.

Mobile Robots

Mars Explorer images and other space robot images courtesy of NASA.

    Mobile robots are able to move, usually they perform task such as search areas. A prime example is the Mars Explorer, specifically designed to roam the mars surface.

    Mobile robots are a great help to such collapsed building for survivors Mobile robots are used for task where people cannot go.  Either because it is too dangerous of because people cannot reach the area that needs to be searched.  

 

    Mobile robots can be divided in two categories:  

   Rolling Robots:  Rolling robots have wheels to move around.  These are the type of robots that can quickly and easily search move around.  However they are only useful in flat areas, rocky terrains give them a hard time.  Flat terrains are their territory.  

   

   Walking Robots:  Robots on legs are usually brought in when the terrain is rocky and difficult to enter with wheels.  Robots have a hard time shifting balance and keep them from tumbling.  That’s why most robots with have at least 4 of them, usually they have 6 legs or more.  Even when they lift one or more legs they still keep their balance.  Development of legged robots is often modeled after insects or crawfish..  

Stationary Robots

Robots are not only used to explore areas or imitate a human being.  Most robots perform repeating tasks without ever moving an inch.  Most robots are ‘working’ in industry settings.  Especially dull and repeating tasks are suitable for robots.  A robot never grows tired, it will perform its duty day and night without ever complaining.  In case the tasks at hand are done, the robots will be reprogrammed to perform other tasks..  

Autonomous Robots

   Autonomous robots are self supporting or in other words self contained.  In a way they rely on their own ‘brains’.

    Autonomous robots run a program that give them the opportunity to decide on the action to perform depending on their surroundings.  At times these robots even learn new behavior.  They start out with a short routine and adapt this routine to be more successful at the task they perform.  The most successful routine will be repeated as such their behavior is shaped.  Autonomous robots can learn to walk or avoid obstacles they find in their way.  Think about a six legged robot, at first the legs move ad random, after a little while the robot adjust its program and performs a pattern which enables it to move in a direction.  

Remote-control Robots

   An autonomous robot is despite its autonomous not a very clever or intelligent unit.  The memory and brain capacity is usually limited, an autonomous robot can be compared to an insect in that respect.

    In case a robot needs to perform more complicated yet undetermined tasks an autonomous robot is not the right choice.

    Complicated tasks are still best performed by human beings with real brainpower.  A person can guide a robot by remote control.  A person can perform difficult and usually dangerous tasks without being at the spot where the tasks are performed.  To detonate a bomb it is safer to send the robot to the danger area.  

Dante 2, a NASA robot designed to explore volcanoes via remote control.

Virtual Robots

BEAM Robots

   BEAM is short for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics.  BEAM robots are made by hobbyists. BEAM robots can be simple and very suitable for starters.

 

Biology

Robots are often modeled after nature.  A lot of BEAM robots look remarkably like insects.  Insects are easy to build in mechanical form.  Not just the mechanics are in inspiration also the limited behavior can easily be programmed in a limited amount of memory and processing power.

Electronics

Like all robots they also contain electronics.  Without electronic circuits the engines cannot be controlled.  Lots of Beam Robots also use solar power as their main source of energy.

Aesthetics

A BEAM Robot should look nice and attractive.  BEAM robots have no printed circuits with some parts but an appealing and original appearance.

Mechanics

In contrast with expensive big robots BEAM robots are cheap, simple, built out of recycled material and running on solar energy.

 




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