"A robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctional
machine designed to manipulate materials,
parts, tools, or specialized devices, through
variable programmed motions for the performance
of a variety of tasks."
"A robot is an automatic device that performs
functions normally ascribed to humans or
a machine in the form of a human."
The word 'robot' was coined by the Czech
playwright Karel Capek (pronounced "chop'ek")
from the Czech word for forced labor or
serf. The term 'robotics' refers to the
study and use of robots and was coined and
first used by the Russian-born American
scientist and writer Isaac Asimov.
The first industrial modern robots were
the Unimates developed by George Devol and
Joe Engelberger in the late 50's and early
60's. The first patents were by Devol for
parts transfer machines. Engelberger formed
Unimation and was the first to market robots.
As a result, Engelberger has been called
the 'father of robotics.'
Today 90% of all robots used are found
in factories and they are referred to as
industrial robots. Ten years ago, 9 out
of 10 robots were being bought by auto companies
- now, only 50% of robots made today are
bought by car manufacturers. Robots are
slowly finding their way into warehouses,
laboratories, research and exploration sites,
energy plants, hospitals, even outer
The robotics industry is booming, to say
the least. North American robotics suppliers
saw orders leap 36% in the first half of
2005, putting the industry on pace for a
record year, according to new statistics
released by Robotic Industries Association
(RIA), the industrys trade group.
A total of 10,712 robots valued at $638.9
million were ordered by North American companies
through June. When orders from companies
outside North America are included, overall
sales for North American robot suppliers
totaled 11,381 robots valued at $673.1 million
in the first half of 2005.
The April through June quarter was the
robotics industrys best quarter ever,
with 5,396 robots valued at $336.3 million
ordered by North American manufacturing
Robots are useful in industry for a variety
of reasons. Installing robots is often a
way business owners can be more competitive,
because robots can do some things more efficiently
Robots never get sick or need to rest,
so they can work 24 hours a day, 7 days
When the task required would be dangerous
for a person, they can be do the work
Robots don't get bored, so work that
is repetitive and unrewarding is no problem
for a robot.
Although robots can't do every type of job,
there are certain industrial tasks robots
do very well including:
Assembling Operations - Assembly
accounts for approximately 33% of the
applications of the world robot stock
(1997). Many of these robots can be found
in the automotive and electronics industries.
Continuous Arc Welding & Spot
Welding - One of the most common uses
for industrial robots is welding. Robot
welded car bodies for example enhance
safety since a robot never misses a welding
spot and performs equally well all through
the day. Nearly 25% of all industrial
robots are used in different welding applications.
Packaging/Palletizing - Packaging/palletizing,
is still a minor application area for
industrial robots, accounting for only
2.8% (1997). This application area is
expected to grow as robots become easier