As most modern robots are used in industrial applications, their classification is traditionally based on these industrial functions. So, terrestrial robots frequently are divided into the following classes:
- Nonservo (that is, pick- and- place),
- Sensory, and
- Assembly robots or industry robots.
The nonservo robot is the simplest type. It picks up an object and places it at another location. The robot’s freedom of movement usually is limited to two or three directions. Nonservo robots are capable of point-to-point motions. For each desired motion, the manipulator moves at full speed until the limits of its travel are reached.
As a result, nonservo robots often are called limit-sequence, bang-bang, or pick-and-place robots. When nonservo robots reach the end of a particular motion, a mechanical stop or limit switch is tripped, stopping the particular movement.
The servo robot represents several categories of industrial robots. This type of robot has servomechanisms for the manipulator and end effector, enabling the device to change direction in midair (or mid stroke) without having to trip or trigger a mechanical limit switch. Five to seven directions of motion are common, depending on the number of joints in the manipulator.
Servo robots are also capable of point-to-point motions; but their manipulators move with controlled variable velocities and trajectories. Servo robot motions are controlled without the use of stop or limit switches.
The programmable robot is essentially a servo robot that is driven by a programmable controller. This controller memorizes (stores) a sequence of movements and then repeats these movements and actions continuously. Often, engineers program this type of robot by “walking” the manipulator and end effector through the desired movement.
The computerized robot is simply a servo robot run by computer. This kind of robot is programmed by instructions fed into the controller electronically. These smart robots may even have the ability to improve upon their basic work instructions.
The sensory robot is a computerized robot with one or more artificial senses to observe and record its environment and to feed information back to the controller. The artificial senses most frequently employed are sight (robot or computer vision) and touch.
Finally, the assembly robot is a computerized robot, generally with sensors, that is designed for assembly line and manufacturing tasks.
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