When you hear the word 'robotics',what comes to your mind? Probably something along the lines of humanoid robots like Sophia,who was awarded Saudi Arabia citizenship or Optimus Prime from Transformers, or a Terminator-like autonomous machine that can think and act on its own.
But robotics is so much more than that.
Reduced costs of sensors, wireless connectivity, and AI software have triggered an exponential growth in robotics in the last couple of years.
The industry is expanding at a rapid pace and new applications for these machines are being discovered every day now.
If you are someone who enjoys tinkering with machines then this post will help you get started with robotics.
Here are 6 things you need to know about robotics if you want to take up this hobby:
What is Robotics?
The word ‘robotics’ is derived from the word ‘robot’. A robot is a machine programmed to perform complex tasks by a human user.
It is an electro-mechanical device programmed to do things like moving, lifting, sorting, exploring, etc.
Robotics is a branch of engineering that focuses on the design, construction, operation, and application of robots. It also involves the reduction of risk associated with the operation of robots.
A computer uses software to do things like math calculations, store data, and create graphics.
Robotics is a combination of computers and mechanical parts (like motors, servos, sensors, etc.).Using the software, you tell your robot what to do. Electronics are responsible for the operation of the mechanical parts of the robot.
Why Learn Robotics?
In today's digital age there is no escaping from technology in our daily lives.
Most adults and kids are addicted to their electronic devices.The ill-effect of social media on our mental and physical health has become a subject of research.
Now compare this to a scenario where the kid has developed an interest in robotics. He collaborated with other kids with similar interests to make robots and program them to perform a particular task.
Robotics instills a spirit of collaboration and teamwork in kids.
Robot building improves problem-solving skills and enhances understanding of the STEM subjects (Science,Technology,Math and Engineering).
And the activity is both challenging and fun.
Types of Robots
There are several types of robots that are being used in different industries.One easy classification of robots is based on their usage and application.
- Industrial robots - These types of robots are designed for manufacturing purposes. They are designed to perform repetitive tasks and operate in a controlled environment. Typically, these robots are used in automobile manufacturing, food processing, and pharmaceutical industries.
- Service robots - These are used in healthcare, logistics, retail, home care, etc. These robots interact with humans and are safe to be around. These are used in healthcare, logistics, retail, home care, etc.
- Autonomous drones: Drones are proving useful in agriculture, industrial inspection, wildlife surveillance, weather forecasting, security applications, movies and light shows etc. They are equipped with cameras and sensors for collecting data. These drones are programmed to fly a certain path and return to the specified location.
- Collaborative robots: These robots are designed to work with humans and co-exist in the same space. They are used in manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, etc. These robots are programmed to perform specific tasks and work at a slower pace than industrial robots.
- Educational Robotic kits : Widely used to introduce students to STEM education.These are programmable robots.Some of the popular ones are Lego education kits,Arduino Uno Kits, Raspberry Pi Robot & Computer Kits.You can enroll into one of RoboGems robotics programs in online as well as offline mode.
Important concepts -Robotics for Beginners
These are a few concepts that you will come across while learning robotics. If you understand these concepts, then you are better equipped to learn robotics.
- Mechanical impedance: This is the amount of force required to move a robot’s joint. This measurement is an important consideration while designing a robot. If the joint has a high impedance, then the robot will not be able to move that joint.
- Torque: This is the amount of force required to rotate a joint. If the torque is high, it means that you have to apply a higher force to rotate the joint.
- Speed: This is the rate at which a motor rotates and determines how fast a robot moves.
- Positioning accuracy: This is the amount of deviation from the expected position of a robot.
- Stiffness: This is the amount of force required to move a joint from rest to its maximum position.
Tools for robotics programming
A programming language is used to write programs for the robot. You can use any programming language that is supported by the robot you are using:
- Lego Education kits - One of the most popular and well known brands. You can use SCRATCH or PYTHON based programming language to program your Robot depending on the model of the kit in use.
- Arduino Uno: This is a microcontroller board used to control different components like sensors, actuators, etc.Arduino is a great option if you are a beginner to robotics. It has a simple programming language and is easy to use.
- Raspberry Pi: This is a low-cost computer that comes with a Linux-based operating system. It is a great option if you want to build a robot that can perform computer-based tasks.
- Spark: This is a programming language used to build a wide variety of applications. It can run on low-end devices and can be used for complex AI-based tasks.
Best Practices for Robotics Beginners
- Keep your project simple: If you are a beginner to robotics and want to build a complex robot, then it may take a really long time to complete. Instead, try building a simple robot that can perform a specific task like moving a ball from one place to another.
- Choose a beginner-friendly platform: There are many different platforms for robotics. You can choose one based on the functionality you want and the ease with which you can learn the programming language for it.
- Start with a robot that has a simple design and is easy to build: You can start with a robot that has a simple design. It can be a two-wheeled robot that moves in a straight line or a robot that moves a ball from one position to another.
- Get feedback from others: Once you finish building the robot, submit it to robotics competitions. You can also try to get feedback from other robotics enthusiasts on your design. This will help you improve your skills and knowledge.
Robotics is a vast field with a lot of potential and growth. Robotics is emerging as one of the most promising fields and can lead to a rewarding career.
Beginners will do well to tinker with the robot and first get an understanding of the building concepts.You can enroll into a robotics for beginners program to get your basic concepts clear.You learn faster in a team setting and collaborative atmosphere and stay motivated to solve more and more complex challenges as you make progress in your robotics journey.Take small steps, be persistent and enjoy the exciting journey of Robotics!