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Mobile robots are automatic machines that are equipped for locomotion. They have the ability to move around inside of their environment and do not remain fixed in a single location. They are the opposite of industrial robots which have jointed arms or grippers that attach to the fixed body of the robot and are more or less a stationary robot.
Mobile robots have become a major focal point of current research and nearly every major university has a lab focused entirely on mobile robot research. Mobile robots are also popular in security research settings as well as military research settings. There are newer domestic robots that are used for consumer purposes such as entertainment robots that can handle domestic tasks such as gardening or vacuuming.
Mobile robots can be classified by the environment in which they can travel. Land robots that have tracks or wheels allowing them to move are often referred to as unmanned ground vehicles. Aerial mobile robots can generally called unmanned aerial vehicles. Mobile robots that can function underwater are referred to as autonomous underwater vehicles. Mobile robots that can navigate crevasses and icy environments are referred to as polar robots. These robots can also be classified based on the device that they require for movement. They can be classified as a legged robot (or one that has legs much like a human or animal) or a wheeled mobile robot or even a tracks robot.
There are many different forms of mobile robot navigation. Some robots have a manual remote which is controlled by a joystick on a separate device. The device is either hooked up wirelessly or plugged into the robot directly. It can then be accessed and use to navigate the robot. Another navigation form is the guarded tele-op form. This type of mobile robot can sense obstacles in its path and avoid them. Line-following cars are another type of mobile robot that will follow an embedded or visual pine in a ceiling or floor. They can also follow an electrical wire. These robots do not circumnavigate obstacles in their path and instead stop moving and wait if there is something in the way. Autonomous robots can bounce off of walls and move around based on certain goals or waypoints.
Overall the field of robotics has come quite far over the decades. With so many research facilities focused on mobile robot design it is no wonder that there are multiple classifications and multiple navigation systems. It is inspirational to consider what they will have next.
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