Skip main navigation

Applications of robots

What do we use robots for? Dr Richard Mitchell discusses some of the typical applications of robots in this article.
Industrial robots working with glass: Industrial warehouse, 4 orange robot 'arms' working at a large platform with yellow rollers.
© By ICAPlants (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Clearly there are many types of robots and lots of areas where they can be used. Typical applications of robots are:

  • Industrial – the main use of robots for many years
  • Entertainment – increasingly more and more toys
  • Military – such as UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), UGV’s (Unmanned Ground Vehicle), triage and surveillance.
  • Service, including dispensing food and cleaning
  • Exploration, including in space
  • Hazardous environments – sending robots to work where it is best for humans to stay away
  • Cleaning, etc
  • Laboratory specimens
  • Surgery, rehabilitation, physiotherapy

As an indication of how these applications are changing, the Japanese Robotics Association has made projections of the sales of robots from 2010 – 2035. Their analysis shows that although industrial robots have been the mainstay for the robotics industry, there will be an increasing importance for service and medical robots.

Area graph showing the robot industry market projections through 2035. The y axis is labelled: trillion yen, increasing from 00 to 10.0, increasing in increments of 1. The x axis is labelled: years, from 2010 to 2035, increasing in increments of 5 years. There is a general upward trend and increase in area for all market areas labelled in the graph, which include: service sector, agri, forestry and fisheries sector, robotech (RT) products, and manufacturing sector. The service sector is the best performer

© University of Reading
This article is from the free online

Begin Robotics

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now