Robot (noun, “ROW-bot”)
A robot is a physical machine built to carry out tasks on its own. Robots follow sets of coded instructions to get their jobs done. Those tasks can include everything from household chores to surgery.
Robots come in many sizes and designs. The term “robot” can refer to different kinds of machines among different people and different industries. Still, most robots share some common features.
Robots generally carry out tasks automatically and independently. This ability usually comes from a computer program. Programs give robots instructions for doing a task.
Robots also sense things about what’s around them. They do this by carrying tools called sensors. Sensors might be thermometers, microphones or motion detectors.
Robots also interact with things around them. For example, robotic arms attached to space stations allow astronauts to make repairs without ever donning a spacesuit.
Educators and Parents, Sign Up for The Cheat Sheet
Weekly updates to help you use Science News Explores in the learning environment
Thank you for signing up!
There was a problem signing you up.
Many industries use robots. In manufacturing, robots can carry out repeated tasks on assembly lines. Robots attach wheels to cars or screw on toothpaste caps. Some restaurants even have burger-flipping and sushi-making robots at work in their kitchens.
Robots also explore places too dangerous or difficult for humans to reach. They scout our deepest oceans as well as other planets. In 2011, NASA sent a robot named Curiosity to explore Mars. It has been sending data back to Earth since it landed in 2012. In 2021, the robot Perseverance joined it.
Like robots, computer ‘bots’ carry out tasks. The difference is that ‘bots’ are just computer programs. Actual robots are physical machines.
In a sentence
A new robot pill contains a tiny spring-loaded needle that can deliver medication directly through the stomach lining.