Robotics is not one of the fastest developing industries. Robots, all types of them, are applied everywhere. In their motion, they rely on linear actuators.
Robots are different. We classify as a robot any mechanism that can function based on specific algorithms. Other than that, they can be able to perform different functions, be of different sizes, and their functionality might differ significantly.
Actuators Used for Robots
All types of actuators are used for robots:
- Heavy-duty actuators that can reach several meters in size;
- Micro size and mini actuators can be just a couple of millimetres long.
Actuators can perform plenty of functions. Bigger components are used to provide the movement of arms, legs of a robot. While smaller items are used to control the robotic head and eyes.
Initially, pneumatic and hydraulic solutions were applied for the robotics. When electric actuators were developed, they started replacing pneumatic and hydraulic solutions. Compared to the older components, electric actuators come with some benefits:
- They don’t require maintenance;
- They are safe to the environment;
- They are more affordable than other solutions;
- Electric actuators guarantee top accuracy level for even the smallest movements;
- Their service life is longer;
- They can be controlled easily and efficiently;
- They are safer.
Electric actuators can be very small without being less powerful. While robots tend to become smaller, this feature of electric actuators is crucial.
What Robots Are the Actuators Are Used In?
As we have mentioned, robots can be absolutely different. But in all of them, linear actuators are used to provide them with an ability to move. The most frequently used robots are the following:
- Heavy-duty robots for industrial applications: those are mainly robotic arms. They are able to lift and place heavy loads. Their movements are repetitious. They normally perform monotonous tasks. Such robots are widely used in manufacturing facilities, packaging, loading, construction applications.
- Medical robots: while there are many robots used in medicine, we will draw your attention to those that participate in robotic-assisted medical intrusions. Thanks to robots, such intrusions have become possible. A robotic arm, controlled by a doctor, can be used for performing mini-incisions that are not even seen by a human eye. Robots are used for minimally invasive intrusions on internal organs. It allows reducing bleeding, risks of infection, and in general facilitating and speeding up the recovery time of a patient. Robotic nurses are sometimes classified here, too. These are robots that help doctors to perform the basic operations such as taking the temperature, helping the patient to get up, and similar. A robotic nurse can also serve as a reliable interface between a doctor and a patient to enable distant medical services provision.
- Robotic companions: people are becoming increasingly isolated. However, the need for communication is still there, especially when a person gets older or sick. Robotic companions are developed to help in specific cases: when a person needs somebody to talk to. Some robots are even taught to perform basic care operations.
- Animatronics: this is one of the newest developments in robotics. Well, at least it is not as old as robotics for industrial applications and medicine. Mechanical puppets, robots, are made to mimic people, animals, characters from cartoons and movies. Animatronics applies the widest range of linear actuators, and the robot types are limited just by your imagination.
- Autonomous robots: while the functionality of autonomous robots is still limited, the technology is advancing rapidly. Autonomous robots are those that can perform some functions, even non-standard ones, without being directed by people. For now, they can detect pre-determined environments and act based on the data acquired from the external world. One of the most common applications is a robotic vacuum cleaner and an autonomous vehicle. We have all the prerequisites to believe though that in the future, we will see many more kinds of autonomous robots.
Robots already play an integral role in many industries. They facilitate the work of people and replace them in dangerous or severe environments. Robots have provided doctors with new abilities and options to help patients even in the cases that were considered hopeless in the past. Medical robots facilitate surgical intrusions by reducing damage and risks. These advanced machines have enabled doctors to provide distant medical services with top reliability levels. Smart mechanisms have become our companions to help us reduce stress levels and eliminate the feeling of loneliness. Finally, robots have taken their place in the entertainment industry.
Can we say though that robots are replacing people? In some fields, it definitely is happening. Though those are the industries that are not healthy or even dangerous to humans. Thus, such replacement is rather beneficial than threatening. Considering that without robots, our life level would drop drastically, it is clear that this development is to our good.