What Are the Common Applications of Robots?

Tara Barnett

Humanoid robots are often seen performing a number of complex tasks, but the most common applications of robots actually take place in factories and do not involve robots made to look like people. Robotic arms and other factory machinery are very common, and these robots may perform specific duties or more general tasks. Other applications of robots may take place in schools, military organizations, or medical facilities. Outside practical uses, robots are also used for play, companionship, and entertainment.

Robots working on an automobile assembly line.
Robots working on an automobile assembly line.

Robotic arms in factories are commonplace, and robots are sometimes designed to perform a specific task. For example, a robot may be designed to assemble a particular item or apply a specific substance. In certain cases, applications of robots might include transportation duties or solutions to other problems unique to certain products. Advances in robotics can lead to additional applications, and it may someday be possible to run all factories entirely through this technology.

Police and military forces use mobile robots to defuse bombs and perform reconnaissance in harsh environments.
Police and military forces use mobile robots to defuse bombs and perform reconnaissance in harsh environments.

Other applications of robots also play on the ability of these machines to perform highly complicated, repetitive, and even dangerous tasks. Sorting objects, doing undesirable cleaning work, or working in conditions unsuitable for humans are all possibilities for robots. In science, use of robots is common in dangerous exploratory work. These applications become more common as the cost of these machines goes down.

In some countries, robots are used for companionship.
In some countries, robots are used for companionship.

One of the most unique applications of robots is education, in which building small robots is used to help gain the skills needed to work on larger projects. These robots may not perform important tasks, but they often require advanced skills to construct. Concepts used in robotics can be difficult to understand, and use of artificial problems for robots can help teach these skills through actual work.

Military robots are used primarily for dangerous combat situations, but some can be used as basic help when carrying heavy goods or moving objects. Combat robots are almost never fully automatic due to ethical considerations, which means they are not full members of this category of machinery. Robots are also used by government research agencies for work in space and in deep oceans.

Use of robots for entertainment is less common in reality but more commonly portrayed and discussed by the general public. Fighting robots and robots that can hold conversations or play games exist in basic forms, but this form of entertainment is somewhat uncommon. Robotic toys are often highly simplistic but have the potential to become fully functioning play partners for children. Likewise, androids that talk and move could someday play important societal roles as servants and companions.

Robotic toys are often highly simplistic, but may be perfect play partners for children.
Robotic toys are often highly simplistic, but may be perfect play partners for children.

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Discussion Comments


@pleonasm - Well, companion robots don't necessarily need to be completely sentient anyway. Robots are already used for a myriad of different tasks to help connect humans together and make us feel happier.

They are already starting to put robotic pets in nursing homes and places like that. It's easy to fool humans into thinking about something as a companion, even if it isn't completely (or even marginally) sentient. Children do it with teddy-bears all the time.


@browncoat - While robots and androids are basically the same thing in some ways, the part of the android that would be intelligent has more to do with software than with robotics.

We already have robots that could be called semi-sentient (depending on how you define that term) in a lot of homes in the form of vacuum bots.

And it's much more likely that robots will progress to the point where they can imitate humans physically well before they have any sort of sentience than that these two things will occur together within the next couple of decades.

It's possible that artificial intelligence will be explored in advanced forms, but I'm sure they will need huge amounts of processing power to maintain at least at first, and putting that into a robot isn't really going to be feasible.


I am so fascinated by robotics at the moment. I feel like they are on the cusp of being able to create something that we will really recognize as being a semi-sentient robot, and which can be used as a companion.

I've been waiting for this to happen since I used to watch Star Trek and wanted to be able to hang out with an android. Not so much because it would be able to do things I couldn't, but because I think it's the only guarantee that humanity has to encounter an intelligence that isn't human.

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