In our last post, we considered why a robot might be used. Now, we ask how does a robot work?
We took a look at an article over at HowStuffWorks.com and found that, much like the human body – the inspiration for Čapek’s original, robots can have four major components:
- Main body
- Moving parts
- Sensory System
- Control System
The main body can be thought of like your torso when considering a humanoid robot. On a wheeled robot, it would be like the chassis of your car. In a stationary, industrial robot, this would be a heavy duty frame attached to the factory floor.
On a humanoid robot, the moving parts would be the arms, legs, and neck. Movement is achieved using an actuator, which can be thought of like your muscles. On a wheeled robot, movement is achieved, like in your car, via a spinning motor geared to the wheels. Wheeled robots are likely to also incorporate additional moving parts, such as an arm. In an industrial robot, the moving parts may include compound arms with specialized attachments designed to allow very efficiently carrying out repetitive tasks.
A robot may, or may not, have a sensory system. Robots might have sensors to detect light, sound. Some even have the ability to smell or taste. The obvious human analogs are the senses of sight, hearing, smell and taste. Pressure and vibration sensors can begin to mimic the sense of touch.
The control system is like the brain, processing programmed instructions, along with inputs from sensors, to determine what physical actions the robot will take.