Getting around with robots

An important category is that of flying robots used in aerospace, such as the SmartBird robotic seagull or the Raven surveillance drone. Some robots are designed to operate in space, particularly Mars rovers or the Robonaut developed by NASA. Self-driving cars are also equipped with robotic systems that can drive themselves around.

Drones, as unmanned aerial vehicles, represent another category. Many of them are military systems, such as Global Hawk, used for long-duration surveillance. Other robots operate under the sea, such as deep-sea submersible Aquanaut, capable of transforming itself from a nimble submarine into a half-humanoid robot.

Robots in the service of humanity

Some robots are specifically developed to carry out high-risk jobs, such as searching for survivors in the case of a disaster. An example are Packbots that were sent to inspect damage after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011.

A significant field of application for robots is health and medicine, where surgical robots, such as da Vinci are used to operate with extreme precision.

Another invention, the so-called robotic exoskeletons help with physical rehabilitation, for example by enabling a paralyzed patient to walk again. Outside of medicine, they are also used in military, where they increase the wearer’s mobility or endurance.

Another field of application for exoskeletons is industry, where they often help to carry heavy loads. Industrial robots, however, represent a separate category and traditionally come equipped with a manipulator arm designed to perform repetitive tasks. Amazon’s warehouse robots are some of the most advanced industrial robots used today, while factory robots complement the work of humans.

Education, research, work and entertainment

Particularly useful during a pandemic, telepresence robots allow you to be present without actually going to a particular place. By logging on to a robot avatar and driving it around, workers can communicate with colleagues even without being present in an office.

Whether at home or in classrooms, robots are now widely used in education. An example is the social robot EMYS, able to teach children one foreign word per day. Given that most robots are developed at universities and research labs, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many of them aid researchers in their work.

Some robots were developed to help us with tasks and chores at our household, while others are used just for fun. The robot dog Aibo or AI-powered robot assistants belong to this category, not to mention the wide variety of robotic toys and kits.

And lest we forget humanoids, the first type that comes to mind when we imagine robots: so-called androids, like the Geminoid series, are designed to look just like people, but more mechanical-looking robots, such as Honda’s Asimo, are likewise considered humanoids due to their human-like traits.

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