Robotics connects several technologies with the goal of designing systems capable of performing tasks autonomously. This capacity of carrying out actions in an autonomous manner involves the need to perceive and understand the environment around the robot. Seeing what surrounds it, if it’s a person, a wall or a table. Thus, it’ll be able to react to changes in the environment, but always taking into account its goal.
In recent years, the most common robots have been industrial robots. They are used in the production industry, for example, in car manufacturing. But today, we can see many more types of robots, like for parts handling in the production chain, transport of people or goods, cleaning, automatic inventory preparation, autonomous ground vehicles, vehicles for transporting goods in a production plant, big construction machines, autonomous air vehicles such as drones, or humanoids that are used as assistive or companion robots. These are just some examples, but there are many more.
This growth of robotics has been due to the boost of mechatronics and the development of increasingly smaller and stronger sensors and processing systems. But the key for all this to work in a coordinated manner is the software. Algorithms allow robots to move, perceive the environment through sensors and, unlike traditional industrial robots, locate themselves in complex environments. This is a very important task to adapt robots to real autonomy.
Nowadays, multiple sectors need these developments: logistics, automotive, infrastructure maintenance, building, etc. Likewise, society benefits from these developments, like, for example, with assistive robots for elderly people, rescue robots, robots for environmental conservation, investigation robots for exploring caves, space and seabed, robots used at home as vacuum cleaners and entertainment robots, among others. The future is very promising and this sector is a really interesting source of business. We also highlight artificial intelligence since, added to robotics, it’ll allow robots to have new unimaginable capabilities; its interaction with robots will allow to develop unprecedented applications and systems.
As it was previously mentioned, programming is crucial for robotics, as it allows to prepare certain devices so that, based on a series of factors, they can behave in a way or another. For the robot to be efficient, it must have a series of sensors that have been programmed through high-level languages that should be clear and simple.
In robotics, there are two types of programming:
– Guided: It makes the robot perform tasks through the movement of its joints, on a routine basis. It’ll do this at the same time that the movements perceived by sensors are recorded, so that later they can be repeated automatically.
– Textual: It is predetermined and achieved through programming languages, training/repetition or use of verbal commands.
Curious Fact: Due to the restrictions that existing languages may pose, every manufacturer usually creates a custom language to communicate with their creation!
Programming a robot can be useful for any type of application you can imagine. Today, robots have many functions, like the ones mentioned above.
Why Is It Important to Add Robotics and Programming in Education?
As we live in a technologized society, a fact that is increasing daily, if we don’t understand their functioning, we’ll lose development and job opportunities. That’s why, learning programming and robotics promotes learning and the XXI century skills needed for the university and professional future of every person. Schools aren’t always prepared to develop these skills, but they should be, because when students learn these disciplines, they develop creativity, learn to solve problems and conflicts, address technical careers more effectively, develop a better manual coordination, have fun and enjoy many more advantages.