5 Types of Robotics Explained

Types of robotics are; motion planning and control, automation, signal processing, micro and field robotics.

This article discusses the types of robotics, as follows;




1). Motion Planning and Control (as one of the Types of Robotics)

Motion planning in robotics is the sum total of tools, programs and techniques used to equip robotic systems to carry out tasks requiring mobility, by laying out a well-defined scheme of progressive motional steps.

Software-equipped actuators are used to control the motion of the robot, and they may come in any of various forms including rotary and linear [3].

These software are themselves referred to as the motion planning algorithms; which are a set of commands that detail all motion control functions to be carried out by the actuator in a robotic system.

An example of motion planning algorithm is the rapidly-exploring random tree (RRT) which is an artificial intelligence-based program that uses machine learning to map-out and execute motional functions in real time.

Motion planning in robotics is different from trajectory planning.

The difference between trajectory planning and motion planning lies in the fact that trajectory planning is highly-detailed, and based on both scalar and vector metrics like velocity, area and time; while motion planning is less-elaborate and based on mainly scalar metrics.

Applications of motion control in robotics include automation, C.A.D, communication, and autonomy.



2). Automation

Automation is a type of robotics engineering that is concerned with the establishment of self-sufficiency and unsupervised operation for robotic systems.

In some studies, it is referred to as a branch of robotics, and this is also justifiable based on the fact that automation is one of the foundational factors of the robotics concept.

Automation in robotics is therefore the act, process and application of unsupervised operation in software-aided systems.

The four(4) main types of automation in robotics are, integrated, flexible, programmable, and fixed or hard automation.

Automation is arguably one of the most critical types of robotics because self-driven software plays a central and crucial role in most robotic operations.

While these software are usually programmed by humans, they are also often equipped with machine learning functionalities.

It is not very unusual to confuse automation concept with robotics. However, there are identifiable differences between the two.

The difference between automation and robotics is based on the fact that automation is a sub-discipline that deals with the functionality of various types of systems that include robots, while robotics is a broad discipline that encompasses automation, among other sub-disciplines.

The operation of automation functionality in robotic systems is usually referred to as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) [4].

Types of Robotics: Automation (Credit: ICAPlants 2008 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Types of Robotics: Automation (Credit: ICAPlants 2008 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)



3). Signal Processing Robotics (as one of the Types of Robotics)

Signal processing in robotics is simply the conversion of raw data collected by the robotic system, into information that can be interpreted and used for the system’s functioning.

Aside enabling the robotic system to function, signal processing also enables the operator(s) to optimize the system for better performance, by providing readable information based on which the system’s past performance can be analyzed.

Signal processing is used because of the need for robotic systems to operate based on real time data.

The mechanism behind signal processing is itself based on the use of repetitive datasets to analyze and identify patterns that can be interpreted to yield useful information.

Signal processing in robotics is carried out mainly by the digital signal processor (DSP) [5].

DSP is used in robotics to compile and compute raw data from signals in order to produce a distinctive base of information that can be utilized productively for the system’s functions.



4). Micro-Robotics

Micro-robotics (or microrobotics) is a type or field of robotics that deals with the development and utilization of small-scale robotic systems.

Some studies categorize microrobotics to include all robotic systems and applications with external dimensions less than 1 mm [1].

The development of microrobotics as a distinct field is in line with the goals of sustainable development and circular economy, which aim to exploit advanced technology in the effort to achieve sustainability.

Micro robots are used in multiple fields, scenarios and industries; including manufacturing, biotechnology, general scientific research and development, renewable energy systems, remote sensing, and environmental remediation equipment.

Types of Robotics: Micro-Robotics (Credit: Eugene Ciurana 2013 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Types of Robotics: Micro-Robotics (Credit: Eugene Ciurana 2013 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)



5). Field Robotics (as one of the Types of Robotics)

As the name implies, field robotics deals with the development and utilization of robotic systems that work directly on the field, to replace humans in repetitive, strenuous or dangerous tasks in unstructured terrains [2].

The effectiveness of this type of robotics depends on its level of integration with other types like automation and motion-control.

It is therefore possible to view field robotics as a demonstration of the functional capability of multiple fields or types of robotics in practical scenarios. The utilization of field robots can occur in a variety of unstructured environments, including forests, construction sites, oil rigs, and underwater terrains.





Types of robotics are;

1. Motion Planning and Control

2. Automation

3. Signal Processing Robotics

4. Micro-Robotics

5. Field Robotics





1). Abbott, J.; Nagy, Z.; Beyeler, F.; Nelson, B. (2007). “Robotics in the Small, Part I: Microbotics.” IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine 14(2):92 – 103. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1109/MRA.2007.380641. (Accessed 14 December 2022).

2). Hutter, M.; Siegwart, R. (2018). “Field and Service Robotics: Results of the 11th International Conference.” Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-67361-5. (Accessed 14 December 2022).

3). Islam, T. (2016). “Design, development and control of a new generation high performance linear actuator for parallel robots and other applications.” Engineering. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Design%2C-development-and-control-of-a-new-generation-Islam/542377c6ff011ca54509d2e8b192d12793776591. (Accessed 13 December 2022).

4). Pekonen, I.; Lähteinen, J. (2021).Robotic Process Automation (RPA) As A Digitalization Related Tool To Process Enhancement And Time Saving.” Available at: https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.13974.68161. (Accessed 14 December 2022).

5). Rahman, S. (2004). “Digital Signal Processing.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303471153_Digital_Signal_Processing. (Accessed 14 December 2022).

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