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What is a ROBOT?

I have seen this question asked and have not yet found a real answer or one that actually describe or defines what a robot is.

Here I am asking the infamous question "What is a Robot"

Can't wait to see what your thoughts are.

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For me a robot is an autonomous system capable of reading its environment and reacting to it. But would love to hear and discover other perspectives on the matter!

I have come up with three words that I think are the easiest way to describe a robot and would love to hear more from anyone on their thoughts of this. Sense,Think and React.

To me a robot has to Sense it enviroment or know if there is something in its way, it then has to make a decision or do some thinking, if Left is 15cm and Right is 14cm and Front is 20cm which way to I go, Then after it has made is decision it has to React by lets say going forward because it is the path with least resistance.

An RC vehicle is not a robot. It is a bg step on the way to creating a robot though. We shlouldn’t make beginners feel bad for their RC creations, but we also shouldn’t allow them to be called robots. A robot should be autonomous to some degree beyond having every movement remote controlled.

I agree with you on this. I see many videos where it say 17DOF robot but when you watch them the majority are using either a bluetooth connection or IR or RF to control the movements of the robots.

Would a Roomba which is an appliance be considered a robot or is it just an appliance. What makes a robot a robot. Does it have to feel to be a robot. Does it have to think to be a robot. Does it have to be autonomous to be a robot. Does it have to recognize you or objects to be a robot. What really defines what a robot is. Can part of it be RC or assisted by the user and still be a robot. At what point do we say this is a robot and that is a RC toy. Does just the physical appreance of it that makes it look human make it a robot.

A robot is a constructed machine that performs the functions of a servant.

A robot is a constructed machine that performs the tasks of a servant.A robot should be able to change the environment it is in.

Roomba is a robot, right at the bottom of that description. Typically a robot (more correctly, General Purpose Robot) should perform more than one task, roomba really only does one.

I have disturbingly heard some people call radio-control "autonomous".

The stricter the better I believe as it is a focus for construction. When someone says they are going to build a robot, having a strict set of criteria helps them tell if they have successeded or not. Open-ended goals usually lead to an unfinished machine.


Good question.

dictionary.com defines robot as "a machine that resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command."  I don't think that explains it very well although I am still trying to refine this in my own mind as to what makes a robot.  

If you define a robot as something that can sense and interact with your environment, I think that is close, but not quite it.  A piece of software that runs once a week to send out an email alert with a report, ok, that probably isn't a robot.  But what if the job sends it to the printer so every Friday morning there it is on the printer?  It is interacting with the environment. I don't see that as a robot though, I see it as a scheduled job or as automation.

Is an Alexa a robot?  I think the same argument pertains.  You can order stuff and it appears on your doorstep two days later if you have Amazon Prime so it can interacts with your environment.  You can also talk to it so it is interacting with you which is a part of the environment, it can play music which changes the environment, integrate with home automation, etc.  It definitely is a robot by that definition. 

I think ultimately the term "robot" is subjective and something different for each person.  For me, it is something that moves itself within its environment.  So, a robot is a manmade device or machine that physically moves, and can sense and interact within its environment.  So, by that definition, a Roomba is a robot, Alexa is not.  

But how does one define an industrial robot like are used in automotive factories?  They are stationary.  Also, where I work we have pick and place machines that put together two factor authorization and identity tokens like you might have on your key ring to log into your work VPN.  Neither of these physically move, but they move other things to fulfull their purpose.  I think those are robots so how about revise that above:

"a robot is a manmade device or machine that physically moves itself or other things, and can sense and interact within its environment."

Feel free to disagree or agree.  I will stick with that until I change my mind!

Our definition of a robot is coming to life. I agree with you as Alexa is not a robot but more of what I would call a Chat bot with additional add-ons. You are correct in saying it is man made and that is has to physically perform a duty or task based on its enviroment. So is that to say that any man made machine that can sense it enviroment and then think and react is a robot. What about cars that are able to park for you are those robots. Great job on your definition Bill I think with a little more work we can get this down to what a robot is. Happy holidays Bill.

Why would you call an industrial robot like are used in automotive factories'  a robot ? What is different about it to a machine that does the same thing over and over ? Also does it sense it's environment ?


Now you say 'a robot is a manmade device' but what about a device build by a robot that fulfills your other criteria ?