Types Of Robots: So Many Types of Robots, So Little Time
September 18, 2013

Types Of Robots: So Many Types of Robots, So Little Time

In an ever-advancing robotic world, people sometimes find themselves lost in the different types or robots that are available today. Many different robots exist in terms of applications, as well as locomotion and kinematics. People have robotics all over their houses, and soon we may have robots in the more traditional form (think of The Jetson’s robot Rosie, or Bender from Futurama), so a good understanding of the different robot types is important for us all.

First, a breakdown of robots based on application is necessary. The All On Robots website breaks it down into eight categories of robot applications: industrial, domestic or household, medical, service, military, entertainment, space, and hobby and competition. Each of these types of robots has its own form and function.

  • Industrial: These consist of robots used in an industrial, manufacturing arena, including robots that are nothing more than articulated arms for activities such as welding, material handling, and painting.
  • Domestic or Household: These are obviously robots used in the home. Some examples of this robot type are robotic vacuum cleaners, pool cleaners, sweepers, gutter cleaners as well as some surveillance robots.
  • Medical: The medical robots are used in hospitals and other medical institutes such as surgery robots which are becoming increasingly common.
  • Service: Though still a type of robot, these are the robots that do not fall into any other category of robot like those used for research or data gathering.
  • Military: Robots used for the military include those used for bomb disposal, transportation and drones.
  • Entertainment: Toy robots obviously fall into this category, but so do alarm clocks and motion simulators.
  • Space: Obviously, this robot category includes those used in space, like the Mars Curiosity.
  • Hobby and Competition: For this final grouping based on application, the hobby and competition robots are those anyone can create themselves.

Beyond just understanding robots based on application, it is also important to know the different types of robots based on their structure. To this end, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provides some great information.

  • Cartesian robot¬†/Gantry robot: Used for pick and place work, application of sealant, assembly operations, handling machine tools and arc welding. It’s a robot whose arm has three prismatic joints, whose axes are coincident with a Cartesian coordinator.
  • Cylindrical robot: Used for assembly operations, handling at machine tools, spot welding, and handling at diecasting machines. It’s a robot whose axes form a cylindrical coordinate system.
  • Spherical/Polar robot: Used for handling at machine tools, spot welding, diecasting, fettling machines, gas welding and arc welding. It’s a robot whose axes form a polar coordinate system.
  • SCARA robot: Used for pick and place work, application of sealant, assembly operations and handling machine tools. It’s a robot which has two parallel rotary joints to provide compliance in a plane.
  • Articulated robot: Used for assembly operations, diecasting, fettling machines, gas welding, arc welding and spray painting. It’s a robot whose arm has at least three rotary joints.
  • Parallel robot: One use is a mobile platform handling cockpit flight simulators. It’s a robot whose arms have concurrent prismatic or rotary joints.

Naturally, this is just a introductory understanding of the robot types available today. However, a beginning is important to understanding just the impact robots have on our everyday lives. Without robots, for instance, coffee would be a lot harder to make at home for many. Robots are a part of our lives, and they’re here to stay. It’s about time we understood them better.

Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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