Robotics: Scope and Limitations of Robots – What robots can do and they cannot do

Despite the great advancements in the field of robotics and continuous efforts to make robots more and more sophisticated to match the capabilities of human beings and even surpass them, still, from a very scientific and logical point of view, robots developed up till these days are no way closer to human beings.

Scope and Limitations of Robots

In basic robotics we design machines to do the specified tasks and in the advanced version of it robots are designed to be adaptive, that is, respond according to the changing environment and even autonomous, that is, capable to make decisions on their own. While designing a robot the most important thing to be taken in consideration is, obviously, the function to be performed. Here comes into play the discussion about the scope of the robot and robotics. Robots have basic levels of complexity and each level has its scope for performing the requisite function.

The levels of complexity of robots is defined by the members used in its limbs, number of limbs, number of actuators and sensors used and for advanced robots the type and number of microprocessors and microcontrollers used. Each increasing component adds to the scope of functionality of a robot. With every joint added, the degrees of freedom in which a robot can work increases and with the quality of the microprocessors and microcontrollers the accuracy and effectiveness with which a robot can work is enhanced.


To understand the scope for any robot of given complexity, we will discuss it with a very simple example. Consider a robot comprising of one member joined to the base with a revolute joint and a servo motor is connected to that revolute joint which is controlled by a microcontroller programmed to move the member through a certain degrees of rotation. This is the most basic robot which I could think of.

Scope: The motion of this robotic arm is restricted to a circular path. Any task which can be done by the motion along the circular arc can be performed by this robot. Say, we want to draw arcs on sheets of papers or we want to cut them in circular pieces that can be achieved by fitting a pencil and a cutter to the end of this robotic arm.

Limitation: Any point on this robotic arm can only move along a circular path. Any task involving motion other that the circular motion cannot be performed by such robot.

Scope of robots can be extended and limitations can be reduced by adding to the complexity of the robots. One can imagine of the possibilities of motions which can arise by simply adding one more limb to the existing one through a revolute joint and a servo motor. This is a very basic example; in fact, robotics is very vibrant field with infinite scope and an equal numbers of limitations ever reducing.

This post is part of the series: Robotics

Robots are not just machines, they are many steps ahead a typical machine. Robots like machines can perform different tough jobs easily but the advancement is that they can do it by their own. Once programmed robots can perform required tasks repeatedly in exactly the same way.
  1. Robotics: Introduction
  2. Robotics: Scope and Limitations of Robots
  3. Robotics: Construction of a Robot
  4. Robotics: Structure of Industrial Robots or Manipulators: Types of Base Bodies – I
  5. Robotics: Structure of Industrial Robots or Manipulators: Types of Base Bodies – II