What do Robots Do?
In order to learn about robotics technology, it is helpful to learn a bit about robots and their capabilities. When the idea of robots was first developing, they were envisioned as humanlike in appearance and in behavior. The greatest number of robots in use, however, are industrial robots, which do not look at all like humans. The images in this section show a couple of industrial robots, one doing material handling and the other doing welding. Many industrial robots, like the two shown here, look somewhat like an arm, and also go by the name 'robotic arm.'
A large percentage of the robots in the world are industrial robots used in a wide variety of industries. Robots can do jobs that would be boring for humans and jobs that are dangerous or dirty. Robotics technology has developed to the point that robots can lift heavy objects, do precise assembly line work, pick something up and place it precisely where it needs to be, guide a machining operation, defuse bombs, or inspect sewers, just as a few examples.
The first industrial robot, Unimate, was developed by George Devol, and was used for die casting handling and spot welding by General Motors. This was perhaps a predictor of things to come, because the automobile industry today is the largest user of industrial robots and robotic arms.
In addition to industrial robotics, another large sector is robot toys and robotics in games. Robots in this sector are more likely to have an appearance that is more like humans, and to have motion capabilities and the capability to do human types of activities.