What exactly is a robot?

From chat bots that act as smart assistants and answer questions online to intelligent industrial machines that perform monotonous and hazardous tasks: today, we encounter smart helpers in many areas of life and in different forms – both hardware and software.

A guideline of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) defines industrial robots as “universally applicable manipulators with several axes, whose movements are freely programmable (i. e. without mechanical intervention and allowing modification) with regard to sequence, paths or angles, and can be assisted by sensors if necessary. They can be equipped with grippers, tools or other manufacturing equipment and can perform handling and /or other manufacturing tasks.”

From autonomous service robots as domestic cleaners to medical robots that assist physicians in operating rooms – not forgetting humanoid toy robots for the engineers of tomorrow: the range of potential applications is diverse – and is by no means limited to use in factories.

The term ‘robot’ is also encountered in the field of software – usually abbreviated to ‘bot’. The Competence Center Public IT defines bots as “computer programs written by humans that, depending on the specific objective, can independently gather data, disseminate information, and communicate and interact with other users.”

The nature of bots is varied: as artificial users of social networks, bots are meanwhile capable of imitating human behavior highly convincingly and manipulating political discussions, for example. They can also be very helpful, however, such as chat bots that access databases of answers and are used on websites when users require help.

Source Header picture: Getty/NI QIN

Leave a Reply