Robots. It’s a name we’ve been talking about for a hundred years. Did you know there was a robot in Frank Baum’s Land of Oz in 1907? He didn’t call it a robot, but it is a robot. In this article, I’ll give you a brief introduction to robots before I delve into programming robots with Python in my upcoming articles.
Robots are everywhere in the modern world today. Your house is full of them. How is it possible? To understand what we are talking about, you have to understand the definition of the robot more in computer terms than in Hollywood.
A Robot Is Not Always like a Human
Two things to know about robots:
- A Robot only have two functions, a computer and an actuator.
- A Robot is stupid; it cannot be a human.
So what is an actuator? It is something that physically affects the outside world. According to this definition, a sophisticated IoT (Internet of Things) device connected to a sensor and a database is not really a robot, whereas a computer controlling a toaster (which makes the toast appear) is a robot. As with any definition, you can discuss corner cases all day. But it’s a good working definition that shows how varied a robot’s “body type” can be.
Not All Robots Has Arms or Wheels
The classic design of a robot tends to be something that looks at least vaguely human. The amazing robots that help us assemble cars in factories, for example, have giant arms that pick up car doors, weld metal, place windshields, and do many other tasks on the assembly line. Small arms are present everywhere in the production lines and contribute to the production of small and large products.
One of the relatively new categories of robots is called Cobots (cooperative robots). They are robots designed to work closely with humans in manufacturing lines. The robots in the car lines will hurt you if you get in their way. Cobots will stop if they meet you while moving. These robots can work right next to people, performing tasks to make people more efficient. Baxter the Coffee-Making Robot is an example of Cobot.
Robots don’t always have arms (remember our toaster?). Robots can look like microwaves. They can look like cars (yes, self-driving cars, but also your current car). Modern cars are full of computers doing robotic things. For example, there’s a computer that measures when you press the accelerator pedal and then adjusts the fuel and air mixture to get exactly the boost you’re looking for.
A Robot can be programmed in many types of languages. Some robots can be programmed by moving the arm to a specific set of locations and other robots are programmed in a more traditional way. We have found that programming by moving the arms will kind of allow you to focus and provide structure to your programming to implement a particular function.
The world’s most popular programming language for programming a robot at a high level (above motor drives and the like) is Python. Fingers in the nose. Baxter is programmed through an API (Application Programming Interface) provided for Python. Python is used to invoke many robotic functions and image processing, as well as to provide motion planning and coordination between robots. While many robot makers have their own proprietary software, almost all of them will provide a method for working with Python.
I hope you liked this article on an Introduction to Robotics with Python. In my future articles, I will take you through how we can program a robot with python, till then stay tuned. Feel free to ask your valuable questions in the comments section below. You can also follow me on Medium to learn every topic of Machine Learning and Python.