Types of Robots

There are many different types of robots. One simple way to classify robots is according to whether they are stationary or mobile.

Stationary robots are fixed in place, but their arms can reach out and manipulate parts and tools. These robotic arms have an end effector attached to carry out a task. Stationary robots are often found in assembly lines, where they perform simple tasks, such as placing objects on a conveyor belt.

Mobile robots, on the other hand, can move around in their environment and are not fixed to one physical location.

Robots in Manufacturing

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Industrial Robots

Industrial robots have been around for over fifty years, performing simple, repetitive tasks with superhuman speed and precision. They are now responsible for a remarkably wide variety of tasks, from assembling computers to popping frozen dinners into trays. In the manufacturing industry, robots perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • welding
  • spray painting
  • assembly operations
  • palletising and material handling
  • dispensing operations
  • laboratory applications.
Some robots used in manufacturing are designed to perform one particular task, while others are designed with interchangeable body parts, which make them more versatile. For example, a robot may act as a ‘welder’ for one task, but by changing the end gripper, it may be turned into a ‘spray painter’. Significant improvements have been made in robotics technology in recent years. For example, to  reprogram a new robot arm, an operator simply selects from among choices that the robot itself offers; a worker can teach a robot’s eyes to recognise a new part in less than five minutes. Most robots used in manufacturing are stationary, but recently, progress has been made in the development of more mobile robots.
An example of an industrial robot may be viewed here.

Domestic Robots

Robotic toys include remote-control cars, remote control boats, barking dogs and crying dolls. Other domestic robots perform boring and repetitive household chores, such as vacuuming.


Robotic arm

Robotic arm.png

What to do / Robotics Task 4

You are to create a Mahara page called "Robots in Manufacturing and Security Control " and answer these questions on your Mahara Page

  1. Find one example of a robot used in manufacturing and answer the following questions: What is manufactured? What tasks does the robot perform? Is the robot a stationary arm or a mobile robot?
  2. Find an example of a robot used for security control. Describe the function of the robot in the system.


Industrial accidents and the prevalence of some cancers have declined as a result of robots performing hazardous jobs in the workplace.

Educational Robots

Robots, or robotic kits, are used extensively in education. Robotic equipment in the classroom is used to teach and learn about programming and computer control. One example is the Mindstorms NXT kit developed by LEGO. The kits usually consist of building blocks, sensors and motors, which are assembled into models. These models are interfaced to a computer through an infrared tower block. A model can be programmed to carry out simple tasks. For example, a robotic car may be programmed to move forwards or backwards, and a model traffic light may be configured to imitate a pedestrian traffic light. Another educational example is the programming of robots to play soccer in the RoboCup competition. Teams from all over the world enter the competition. The robots operate completely autonomously—there is no external control by humans.

Mobile Robots

Mobile robots usually move around on wheels, tracks or legs. Mobile robots began to appear in the 1980s in the area of nuclear science. In 1979 a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in the USA caused a leak of radioactive material. The accident was a major concern because of the amount of radioactive substances released into the environment. This incident led to the development and use of special robots, called teleoperators, to handle the radioactive material. Today, mobile robots are used in areas such as security control, bomb disposal, planet exploration, transporting hazardous materials, and disaster rescue and recovery.

 Mobile Robot.png


During the 2011 nuclear crisis in Japan, many people were surprised that robots were not deployed to repair the crippled reactors. Despite being a technological powerhouse and a world leader in robotics, Japan essentially relied on a small team of engineers, firefighters and helicopter pilots to perform the task of cooling the reactors.