Explain the Components of Robots

IAS Mains General Studies Sample Answers

Components of Robots


Kinematic Chain (similar to the skeleton of human body) is the structure of a robot and is mostly mechanical. It is formed of links (its bones), actuators (its muscles) and joints which can allow one or more degrees of freedom.

Various functions of Robots are Actuation, Manipulation and Loco-motion

Components of Actuation: Actuation are the “muscles” of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy into movement.

Main component are:

  • Motors: Most of the robots use electric motors, including brushed and brushless DC motors.
  • Stepper Motors: It do not spin freely like DC motors and rotate in discrete steps, under the command of a controller. This makes easier to control them.
  • Piezo Motors: Piezo motors or ultrasonic motors have Tiny Piezoelectric elements, vibrating many thousands of times per second, cause linear or rotary motion. These motors have nanometer resolution.
  • Air Muscles: It is a simple yet powerful device for providing a pulling force. When inflated with compressed air, it contracts by upto 40% of its original length.
  • Electroactive Polymers: These are a class of plastics which change shape in response to electrical stimulation.
  • Elastic Nanotubes: The absence of defects in nanotubes enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent.

Components of Manipulation: The hands, of a robot are often referred to as end effectors, while the arm is referred to as manipulator.

Main components are:

  • Mechanical Grippers
  • Vacuum Grippers
  • General purpose effectors

Components of Locomotion:

  • Rolling Robots: Track robots, Two-wheeled balancing, Ballbot.
  • Walking Robots: Hopping, Dynamic balancing, Passive Dynamics, ZMP technique.
  • Other methods of locomotion: Skating, swimming, flying, snaking.

Kinematic Chains Model (JSC Robonaut)
 The arms, fingers and head of the JSC Robonaut are modeled as kinematic chains.
Source & Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

The concept of creating machines that can operate autonomously dates back to classical times, but research into the functionality and potential uses of robots did not grow substantially until the 20th century. Throughout history, robotics has been often seen to mimic human behavior, and often manage tasks in a similar fashion. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as technological advances continue, research, design, and building new robots serve various practical purposes, whether domestically, commercially, or militarily. Many robots do jobs that are hazardous to people such as defusing bombs, mines and exploring shipwrecks.

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