Published on 28 Oct 2018. Written by Vasanth Vidyakar
Many people think that if a robot is not fully functioning on its own (i.e autonomously), then it is not actually a robot. But, this isn’t the case.
Robots can be classified based on their operation in to 3 major types,
Autonomous robots are the ones that are capable of functioning completely on their own. They don’t need any human intervention to carry out their activities. They can work for longer periods and doesn’t really need complex cognition capabilities to carry out the activities. For instance, industrial assembly robots don’t require human interaction to operate. They carry out the activities in a fixed and repetitive pattern.
Then we have the manual robots, which are operator assisted robots. The human operator should provide step by step commands to the robots to carryout medium to high level tasks. For instance, robots that are used in space and military are classic examples for this category. The human operator will provide commands real time and the robot will actuate accordingly.
The semi-autonomous robots are the ones that take data from the sensors integrated on it and the inputs from human operator for proper functioning. These types of robots will have a micro-controller embedded on it which will act as the brain of the system. You can make the robot to carry out various operations by simply writing a program and loading it on the micro-controller’s memory.
The most popular methods of robotics control are via radio frequency (RF) and infra-red (IR). These technologies enable a user to control the robot from a distance.
These remote control devices are used majorly in hazardous environments like Deep Ocean and Outer Space. Most of the space probes in our solar system has remote controlled robots only. These types of robots enable us to carryout sophisticated and complex activities with ease.
Also, remote controlled robots are greatly being integrated on military and combat operations. Remote controlled robots are being effectively used in bomb detection and defusing activities, where the user can operate the robot from a safe location at a distance.
The major remote controlled mechanisms are:
1. Infra-red (IR): IR remote control is the majorly used controlling mechanism in robotics. This method is relatively cheap and highly reliable. The only disadvantage of using this mechanism is that it is limited to line of sight communication, which means you can’t control the robot if it is not in your sight.
2. Radio Frequency (RF): Radio frequency is also one of the major controlling mechanism that is being used in the robotics industry. RF transmitter and receiver will be used to send and receive commands respectively. A user will have the remote that is integrated with a RF transmitter to send the commands and the robot receives the command through RF receiver & actuates accordingly. The major disadvantage is that the data rates are limited to 9.6 kbaud.
3. Speech Recognition: Voice recognition technology is probably the toughest to implement on a radio controlled robot, but is a very impressive one. There are various APIs available to integrate speech recognition technology on to a robot.
4. Sound: Sound can also be used to control a robot’s movement. A tone with a particular frequency is generated and a receiver is built to detect that tone. Sounds like whistling, clapping hands can be used to give instructions to a robot.
5. Network Control: The latest technological advancement is to use a network to give instructions to a robot. This could be a wired network, like RS-232, RS-485 or Ethernet, or a wireless one, as WLAN, Bluetooth or ZigBee.
And these types of communication methodologies enable industries to integrate robotics onto almost all of their operations. This means, all the top industries would require a large number of skilled engineers to integrate robotics. Also, the number of opportunities in the robotics domain is on the rise and will definitely be at the peak in the coming years.
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