The purpose of Robots

The most common use of robots has been in manufacturing, where robotic equipment often replaces human workers on production lines. Robots are preferred because they:

  • can operate equipment more precisely than humans
  • can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without getting tired or losing concentration
  • may be cheaper to use over a long period
  • can work in environments which may be too dirty or dangerous for humans
  • may be able to do work that is impossible for humans to perform.

Dirty Task

In manufacturing, many jobs in factories are messy or dirty. Dirty tasks may include welding, grinding, moulding and casting. When robots are used to perform these tasks, it enables human workers to partake in more meaningful and creative pursuits.

Purpose-built Robots

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Dangerous Task

In manufacturing, robots often perform tasks which are very dangerous for people. Using robots for tasks involving extreme temperatures, for example, reduces the risk of workplace accidents. Apart from dangerous tasks in manufacturing, robots are also being used to carry out other important but dangerous activities such as clearing landmines, helping in rescue missions and mopping up toxic leaks.

Police robots are used to defuse and remove explosive devices. In cases where a bomb isn’t easily accessible or appears to have a movement triggering mechanism, police may have to detonate the device on-site. Some robots are so tough that they can survive multiple blasts.

Repetitive Task

Robots are reliable workers. They do not have emotions and therefore do not feel worthless when performing menial tasks. For most people, repetitive tasks performed in industry are considered very dull or boring. For example, a robot’s only task may be to pick up an object from a conveyer belt and place it in a box. The robot can perform this task all day, every day, without getting bored.

Robotics 5

Research and answer the  following questions. Add as a page to your Robotics Portfolio.

  1. Identify the event that changed Grant Imahara’s life (the movements controller of R2-D2).
  2. Research and provide a job description of an animatronics engineer.
  3. Research and explain the relationship between animatronics and robotics.
  4. List the reasons why robots are considered to be more reliable workers than humans
  5. Underwater robots proved invaluable following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill). Research this environmental disaster, paying particular attention to:
    • the reasons why robots were used to contain the oil leak
    • the difficulties encountered during the clean-up
    • the tasks performed by the robots.
  6. Investigate the ways in which robots are used to help people with disabilities.



Impossible Task

Working deep under water, exploring live volcanoes at short distance or travelling to far away planets are simply impossible for humans to execute. Robots are often called upon to perform underwater salvage missions to find sunken ships or planes. The Titanic, which sank in 1913, sat on the ocean floor at a depth of 3811 metres for more than seventy years before being reached. At this depth, the ship was too deep to be explored by human divers. In 1985, a team of researchers, with the aid of a robot named Jason Junior (JJ) were able to locate the wreck of the Titanic.

Following the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in 2010, underwater robots operating one and a half kilometres under the ocean’s surface played a vital role in the fight to stop oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.