While discussing and getting deep into the topic of robotics can be complex, the robot itself can be broken down into a few parts to gather a basic understanding. These parts include arms, controllers, drives, end-effectors and sensors.
To begin, robots have arms. These arms act as the robot’s manipulator and feature six degrees of freedom, which refer to movement. These arms are able to move up, down, left, right, forward and backward. Then there are three perpendicular axes which are pitch, yaw and roll. These are used to describe rotation. Pitching is movement tilting forward and backward. Turning left and right is referred to as yawing and rolling is used to describe the act of tilting side to side. When it comes to actual appearance, robot arms are all different shapes and sizes and often look very similar to a human arm. They can have fingers, wrists, elbows and even shoulders.
Every robot is operated using a computer. The computer, therefore, is the controller. The computer is the brains of the act, so to speak. Humans program the robots to perform certain tasks using a computer. They can even network with other systems so that one robot is cross-functional with different machines or tasks. All this is accomplished by programming the controller, or the computer used to operate the particular robot.
Next is the drive. This refers to the device that links the robots joints and allows for movement. There may be hydraulically or pneumatically powered.
A robot’s hands are the end-effectors. Sometimes instead of a hand with five fingers, a robot might be equipped with a gripper or a blowtorch. It all depends on what the robot’s purpose is. It is also possible to change end-effectors on some robots. Other examples of end-effectors include tweezers or scalpels.
Lastly is the sensor. The sensor on a robot is what provides the machine with some feedback, allowing it to successfully complete its task. For example, the sensor may send information about the surrounding environment to the controller so the robot knows how to maneuver. Basically, since robots cannot hear or see, sensors are necessary.
Robots are complex machines used for many different things. They are also an area of technology that is constantly changing. And while there has been talk of artificial intelligence that would enable a robot to think on its own, in current times, we have not yet accomplished this. But, in conclusion, while the topic of robotics can be quite complex, the robot itself can be broken down into just a few components, thus creating a simple way to understand how this technology works.