Defining what the robots are is not easy, and categorizing them is not easy either. Across the distinct types of robots, each robot has its own unique features, and as a whole the scale, shape and capabilities of robots differ enormously. Today, many types of robot share a number of characteristics. Here are the 15 groups that we used to categorize robots.

Aerospace Robot

Aerospace is a widely held category. It involves all kinds of flying robots — for example, the SmartBird robotic seagull and the Raven surveillance drone — but also robots capable of working in space, such as Mars rovers and NASA’s Robonaut, the humanoid that flew to the International Space Station and is now back on Earth.

Consumer Robot

Market robots are robots that you can buy and use either for fun or to assist with tasks and chores. Examples include the Aibo robot dog, the Roomba vacuum, AI-powered robot assistants and a growing range of robotic toys and kits.

Disaster Response Robot

Disaster response robots, on of the most acknowledged types of robots, can perform dangerous tasks, such as scanning for survivors after an emergency. Packbots, for example, were used to assess damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011.

Education Robot

This specific category is intended for use at home or in schools, for the next generation of robotics. It includes programmable hands-on Lego sets, 3D printers with lesson plans, and even teacher robots such as EMYS.

Entertainment Robot

Entertainment robots have been designed to elicit an emotional reaction and cause us to laugh or feel shocked or awe. Robot comedian RoboThespian, Disney theme park robots like Navi Shaman, and musically inclined bots like Partner are amongst them.

Industrial Robot

Typical industrial robot, one of the mostly used types of robots, consists of a manipulator arm designed for repeat tasks. The Unimate, the grandfather of all factory robots, is one example. This category also includes devices such as retail robots from Amazon, and collaborative factory robots that can operate alongside human workers.

Medical Robot

Robots for medical and health care include devices such as the da Vinci surgical robot and bionic prosthesis, as well as exoskeletons for robotics. Watson, the IBM question-answering supercomputer used in healthcare applications, is a device that can fit in this category but is not a robot.

Military or Security Robot

Military & Security: Military robots include ground systems such as the PackBot of Endeavor Robotics, used in Iraq and Afghanistan to search for improvised explosive devices, and the BigDog, equipped to help troops lift heavy gears. Safety robots include autonomous mobile systems like Cobalt for example.

Research Robot

Raised in universities and corporate research laboratories, the vast majority of today’s robots are. Though these robots can do useful stuff, they are mainly intended to help researchers do work, well. Therefore, while some robots may match certain definitions listed here, they may also be called robots for research.

Telepresence Robot

Robots with telepresence allow you to be present at a location without actually going there. You log in via the internet to a robot avatar and drive it around, see what it does, and talk with people. Staff at a distant office can use it to communicate with colleagues, and doctors can use it to check patients.

Underwater Robot

Those robots’ favorite spot is in the water. They consist of deep-sea submersibles such as Aquanaut, underwater humanoids such as Ocean One and bio-inspired structures such as the snakebot ACM-R5H.

Exoskeletons

Robotic exoskeletons may be used for physical therapy and to once again allow a paralyzed patient to walk. Some have industrial or military applications, by giving the wearer additional mobility, endurance, or heavy load carrying capacity.

Humanoids

This is probably the type of robot most people think about when they are talking about a robot. Examples of humanoid robots encompass Honda’s Asimo, which has a mechanical appearance, as well as Geminoid series androids, which are built to look like humans.

Drones

Drones also known as unmanned aerial vehicles come in different sizes and have different levels of autonomy. Examples include the famous Phantom series by DJI and the Anafi by Parrot, as well as military systems such as Global Hawk, used for long-term surveillance.

Self-Driving Car

Different types of robots can drive themselves around and you can now be driven by a growing number of them. Recent autonomous vehicles include those designed for the autonomous-vehicle competitions of DARPA and also the groundbreaking self-driving Toyota Prius of Google, later spun off to create Waymo.

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