What is a Robot?



What is a Robot?

What is a robot? It has become increasingly difficult to define exactly what a robot is given the rapid developments that is occurring in the science and business of robotics. Even Joseph Engelberger, often credited as the “Father of Robotics,” was said to have once remarked, "I can't define a robot, but I know one when I see one.”

Various encyclopedias describe robots as anything from a “mechanism guided by human controls” to “a machine that looks like a human being and can perform various complex acts of a human being” (Merriam-Webster).

More technically, the Robot Institute of America (1979) defines a robot as “a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized devices through various programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks."

Click HERE for the history of robots.

What is a Robot? Rossum's Universal Robots

So one still needs to ask, "What is a robot?" It was a Czech playwright named Karel Čapek (1890-1938)who first used the word ‘robot,’ in a play, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in 1921. Upon the suggestion of his brother Josef, Capek derived it from the Czech word “robota,” which literally means “work,” “labor” or “serf. It could also mean "drudgery" or "hard work," which, to be sure, is the primary reason why robots were built in the first place: to help humans.

Click HERE to Learn About Remote Control (RC) Robots


The very first modern robot, Unimate, was built precisely to transport and weld die casting on auto bodies—a dangerous job for human workers, who could get exhaust gas poisoning or lose a limb from carelessness. With Unimate the science of robotics began. Other industrial robots today can easily carry loads of over one hundred pounds and transport them with unmatched levels of endurance, speed and precision, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no failures, no days-off and no sick leave whatsoever. What is a robot? This is certainly a robot.

Click HERE to Learn About INDUSTRIAL Robots

Click HERE to Learn About NASA Robots and Robotic Arms

Domestic and Cooking Robots

Like these industrial robots, household robots are programmed to make lives less tedious, this time for those at home. These robots perform household chores ranging from simple vacuum cleaning and floor mopping to more complex ones.

China’s AIC-AI Cooking robot, developed by Fanxing Science and Technology Co. Ltd. for instance is programmed to cook ready-to-eat Sichuan, Shandong and Canton cuisines. And the Japanese robot chef Motoman SDA10 makes Japanese style pancakes called Okonomiyaki. Motoman has motion sensors as well as speech recognition so that he can take your order verbally.

Even now, several prototypes of domestic robots connected to WiFi home networks or smart environments are being developed, bringing the idea of a genuine ‘robot butler’ like The Jetson’s “Rosie” closer to home. And now, you yourself can probably answer the question, "What is a robot?"

Click HERE to Learn About Military Robots

Medical Robots and Robotics

Without a doubt the most beneficial to humans today are the medical robots. These robots have revolutionized the medical field with standardized operations that have led to numerous advantages for both patients and doctors. Medical robots such as da Vinci have significantly reduced time, trauma and blood loss normally involved in surgical procedures thanks to ‘hands’ that are steadier and more precise than a human’s as well as the ability to move even under the most confined of environments.

Wiki Explains "What is a Robot"

Humaniod Robots

In the integral field of entertainment, robots have contributed much as well. A lot has changed since the movie “Jaws,” and the science of animatronics has become even more advanced through the years, making these mechanized creatures used in film and theme parks even more realistic. Humanoid robots have become more realistic as well, and Japan’s new life-like android called Actroid DER2 is an unbelievably far cry from when Japan’s first humanoid, ASIMO, stunned the public with realistic human-like movement in 1993. Japan certainly has answered the question, What is a robot?" more completely than any other country.

"What is a robot" then needs to be adapted to "What is a humaniod robot?" To be precise, a humanoid robot is a robot whose overall appearance is to a varying degree based on the human body, which allows for interaction with human tools and environments. They generally have a torso with a head and a pair of arms and legs, although some models such as NASA’s Robonaut are designed with only a portion of the body.

Click HERE to Read About Japanese Robots


Androids, on the other hand, are humanoid robots built to realistically look and act like humans. This has unsurprisingly caused some controversies, especially in the case of fembots or gynoids (from the Greek word "gyn" meaning woman), whose aesthetic attributes and functions may be considered insulting to real women, while at the same time providing the prospect of human-like company to men.

It has been argued that humanoid robots are not attempts to recreate humans, but are instead designed to work with them as well as for them through interactions in typical, everyday environments. Once this goal is fully achieved, then we can look forward to adding another definition for the word “robot.” So, a humanoid robot is a robot that can work with people.

Click HERE to Read about Robots of the Future

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