Did you watch the movies I Robot, Terminator, Transformers? If the answer is yes, then you are quite familiar with the robots. But all the robots are not the same as that. Again, what you see in the movies are fictional but for now. Today’s robotics has not reached that far. But the day is not so far when robots will achieve the ability of what you see in the movie. Today’s world is so much dependent on robots. They can do things that human cannot. Do you want to know about robots and how robot works? Read this article to know all about it.
Nowadays, robotics is so important that most of the engineering universities now have robotics departments. They research about robots and the development of robots. If you are interested in this field and want to build a career based on this, then first you should know what is a robot and how do robots work.
What is a Robot
Robotics is an engineering subject that studies about robots. Robotics studies about the making of robots that deals with the conception, manufacture, design, and operation of Robots. Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, and other fields work together to make a complete robot.
Robots were introduced so that they can substitute for humans. Robots are such kind of machines that are expected to be used in any situation or for any purposes. But today, robots are generally used in every sector such as in dangerous environments, manufacturing processes, etc which are considered dangerous for human. Robots can be of different shapes and forms. But robots that look like human are called humanoid robots. These robots can copy human behavior such as walking, lifting, cognition, etc.
Robotics hasn’t been invented recently. Three Laws of Robotics were written by the Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1942. The principles of cybernetics were formulated by Norbert Wienner in 1948. This principle is the basis of practical robotics. In the late of 20th century, fully autonomous robots appeared. The Unimate is the first digitally operated and programmable robot which was made in 1961. From then on, various kinds of robots are being manufactured for various aspects.
Components of a Robot
Robots are made up of the same components as of human. Those are:
- A structured body
- To move the body structure, a muscle system.
- To receive the information of the body and the surrounding environment, a sensory system.
- To activate the muscles and sensors, a power source.
- A brain system that controls the whole structure and behavior.
But a human has some other attributes like morality, intelligence. But the physical structure of a robot is quite as same as the human. Actually, a robot can be called as a man-made version of human or animal.
How Different Parts of a Robot’s Body Move
Almost all robots have a movable body. Many robots have motorized wheels and others may have dozens of movable parts like a human. All the components are made of metal or plastic. The individual segments of a robot are connected together with joints as like a human body.
Robots move or spin different segments of the body with the help of actuators. Electric motors, solenoids, and also hydraulic systems are generally used as actuators.
A robot can also use all of these actuators types.
These actuators cannot move on their own. A robot needs a power source to drive these actuators. Robots have either battery for the power source or they are connected to the main power supply. Hydraulic robots need a pump for pressurizing the hydraulic fluid and pneumatic robots need an air compressor. The actuators are connected to the electric circuits. The circuits then power up the electric motors and solenoids and then activate the hydraulic system. By controlling the motors, a robot’s movement is controlled. This controlling is done by a computer.
How Robotic Brain or Robot Controlling System Works
The computer controls everything of a robot. The computer which is connected to the robot controls all the parts including all the motors, sensors, camera, etc of it. For example, to move a robot to a respective direction, the computer switches on and off the respective motors and valves. It also controls the speed of the motors so that the perfect direction and speed of the appropriate part is achieved.
The programs that control a robot movement can be written in many programming languages. Most robots are reprogrammable. That means, the behaviors of the robots can be changed by changing the program. Just write a new program and install the program on the robot’s computer. It will act as the program say.
Sensory Systems of a Robot
Most of the robots have sensory systems. Some robots can see, some can hear, some can smell and some can even taste. But the most common sense of a robot is the sense of movement. Robots can monitor its own motion. Different sensors are connected to the robots to achieve this functionality. LED is used to sense the movement. When the robot moves to a particular joint, the LEDs collect the data and send it to the computer. The programs then decide what to do. The programs can exactly tell how far the parts have been moved.
Robots that can see have cameras in front of them. Different sensors like IR sensors, LEDs are connected to the robot. By these, a robot can sense the presence of something around it and can send the data to the computer. The robot then acts as the program say based on the data.
Popular Designs of Robots and How Do They Work
There many types of robots based on their work. Among them, robotic arm, mobile robot, etc are going to be described in this article.
The Robotic Arm
Most of the robots in the world are designed and made especially for heavy and repetitive manufacturing work which are difficult, dangerous or boring to human beings. The robotic arm is that robot which is designed for manufacturing work. A robotic arm has generally seven metal segments. These metal segments are then joined by six joints. Step motors are connected to the individual joints. By controlling and rotating the step motors, the robotic arm is controlled. A computer does this work according to the programs that are developed for getting the expected works done by the robotic arm.
Step motors are not like general motors. They move in exact increments. So, the computer can move the arm very precisely and repeat the same movement over and over again. Motion sensors are used for the accurate measurement of the movement.
An industrial robotic arm with six joints is like a human arm. It has a shoulder, an elbow, and a wrist as like as a typical human arm. Generally, the shoulder is mounted to a stationary base. This type of robot can pivot in six different ways. So, this type of robot is said to have six degrees of freedom. In this way, a human arm has seven degrees of freedom.
Robotic arms are comparatively easy to build than mobile robot because they are built to work in a certain area. As mobile robots are built to work in different areas and to control from distant places, it is quite hard to build a mobile robot.
There can be of two locomotion systems that can be introduced in mobile robots. If the robot is built to move in a smooth ground, then wheels or tracks are given to it. This kind of robot can move on the rougher terrain too. But, if the robot is built with legs, they are more adaptable.
Generally, hydraulic or pneumatic pistons are used to move the legs of the robot back and forth. Just like muscles attached to different bones, the pistons are attached to different segments of the legs of the robot. So, the designer designs the robot in such a way that the movement of the pistons moves the robot’s legs just like walking or running. The programs that control the robot’s movement needs proper data of the robot to maintain a proper balance-system for the robot.
Most of the mobile robots are controlled from a distant place using the remote controller. A human from a distant place tells the robot what to do and when to do. The remote control can communicate with the robot using radio or infrared signals as well as with the wires connected to the robot. This type of remote robot is generally used in dangerous or inaccessible environments.
You have already known about the robotic arm and mobile robot which need to be controlled by the controller. But there is another type of robot known as an autonomous robot which can act on their own. They are independent of the controller. The main thing there is to program the robot to respond in a certain way in a certain environment.
This type of robot has bumper sensors to detect obstacles. When the robot is turned on, it starts to move. Whenever it hits an obstacle, the bumper sensor gets data about the obstacles, and the robot’s programming tells it what to do. It then either move right or left or forward and starts to move. In this way, this robot avoids obstacles.
This is not all. Advanced robots use infrared or ultrasound sensors to detect obstacles from a distant place. This robot then gathers data about all the obstacles and things that it can detect with its sensors. The robot’s programming decides what to do next based on the data of the obstacles. There are more advanced robots that use stereo vision to see the world. They have two cameras in order to have depth perception. It may be also introduced with the image-recognition system, microphone, smell sensors so that it can analyze the whole environment around them and can act on their own.
Robots and Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is now the most exciting topic in the field of robotics. It gives cognition and intelligence to the robots. An artificially intelligent robot is a man-made machine but has the intellectual ability like a human. An artificially intelligent robot can learn different things, can take decisions, have cognition and intelligence like a human.
AI robots gather information about a lot of things around it with its sensors. The computers then run a lot of actions using this data and make decisions. It gradually improves its knowledge and problem-solving capability. Modern ai robots can learn in a limited capacity. This type of robots recognizes certain successful action. Next time the robot faces the same situation, it will act in the right way based on its previous actions.
It is hard to find any sectors of hard labor where robots are not used. The application of robots is so vast to describe. There are no factories in the world without using robots. Again, robots are now working more than labor. The field of robotics is getting wider and wider. If you are interested in robotics, then we hope, this article has given you much knowledge about what is a robot and how do robots work.