A lot of people wonder if robotics is a subset of artificial intelligence. Others wonder if they are the same thing. While there continues to be confusion about the terms artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, they are two separate fields of technology and engineering. However, when combined, you get an artificially intelligent robot where AI acts as the brain, and robotics acts as the body to enable robots to walk, see, speak, smell, and more.
Is robotics part of AI? Is AI part of robotics? What is the difference between the two terms? We will explore this fundamental question here.
Are Robotics and Artificial Intelligence the Same Thing?
What is Artificial Intelligence?
AI refers to the intelligence exhibited by machines or robots (like, problem-solving and learning) using techniques or algorithms like search, logic, if-then rules, decision trees, and machine learning (including deep learning). In short, AI has the ability to tackle learning, problem-solving, language processing, and logical/analytical reasoning.
AI can be classified into two types: Applied and General Artificial Intelligence.
Applied AI, also known as narrow AI, is when machines are designed to manage specific tasks. This is the most common form of AI we see today. On the other hand, general AI improves the ability to think and learn. In short, while the former is defined as an application to enable a system that replicates human intelligence for a dedicated purpose; general AI is aiming to build ‘thinking machines’; that is, general-purpose systems with human intelligence.
The ability of AI has been used in many ways today. While a self-driving car is an example of an AI robot; the search algorithm of Google or Amazon’s recommendation engine use AI as well (even though none of them are physical robots).
According to Robotiq, Even when AI is used to control robots, the AI algorithms are only part of the larger robotic system, which also includes sensors, actuators, and non-AI programming.
The key difference between AI and normal programming is the “intelligence”. While non-AI programs can carry out a defined task (sequence of instructions), an AI program can mimic some amount of human intelligence and work autonomously.
Major Applications of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence finds applications in the following areas:
- Gaming – Artificial Intelligence plays an important role in strategic and stimulating games like chess, poker, tic-tac-toe, etc., where the computer has to think of all the possible ways to challenge the players
- Basic Language Processing – Interactive computers that can understand the basic language spoken by humans and function accordingly
- Aid Systems – Systems with software to provide aid, advice, and suggestions to the users in need
- Vision Systems − These systems have to decipher, analyze and interpret visual inputs. For example –
- Drones used in the mapping of areas
- Doctors using medical aid systems to perform diagnosis
- Military intelligence using software to identify criminals and terrorists through sketches
- Speech Recognition – Some intelligent programs can identify languages, dialects, sentences, or words spoken around and can process the accents as well
- Handwriting Recognition – Some programs can read handwritings and decipher even cursive or crooked letters and then process them to convert them to common text
What is Robotics?
Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with robots. Robots are programmable machines that are usually able to carry out a series of actions autonomously, or semi-autonomously.
There are three important factors that constitute a robot:
- Robots interact with the physical world via sensors and actuators.
- Robots are programmable.
- Robots are usually autonomous or semi-autonomous.
Robots are “usually” autonomous because some robots aren’t. Telerobots, for example, is entirely controlled by a human operator but telerobotics is still classed as a branch of robotics. This is one example where the definition of robotics is not very clear.
It is surprisingly difficult to get experts to agree on exactly what constitutes a “robot.” Some people say that a robot must be able to “think” and make decisions. However, there is no standard definition of “robot thinking.” Requiring a robot to “think” suggests that it has some level of artificial intelligence.
However you choose to define a robot, robotics involves designing, building, and programming physical robots. Only a small part of it involves artificial intelligence.
Major Applications of Robotics
Robotics finds applications in the following areas:
- Industries − Robots can do various tasks such as handling material, cutting, welding, colour coating, drilling, polishing, packaging, etc.
- Military − Autonomous robots can be used in war zones where infantry cannot operate. They can also be used to detect and defuse bombs.
- Medicine – Robots can not only perform multiple medical tests at the same time but they can also be directed to perform complicated surgeries such as removal of brain tumors, without any doubt of mistake because they work on ingrained instructions.
- Space or Underwater Exploration – Robots are already in use for exploring places in space or underwater that are both dangerous and inaccessible to humans.
- Entertainment – Today robots are being effectively used to create animated movies, operate cameras, carry mechatronics actions, etc.
What is the Basic Difference Between Robotics and Artificial Intelligence?
In short, a robot is a machine that may or may not require intelligence to perform specific tasks and has a physical form.
Whereas an AI is a program so it doesn’t need to be physical.
AI can function in cell phones, laptops, robots even, and performs tasks that are most likely related to systems, algorithms, and information – analyzing and computing a certain result.
There is one type of robot that is immobile and doesn’t have a body, such as the popular chatbots, that functions inside programs. Some people may argue that these cannot classify as robots because robots need to be physical and function accordingly.
So, could these chatbots classify as Artificial Intelligence?
Yes, because these chatbots do use AI to function effectively and have the ability to learn and execute tasks on their own.
Even the assistant that you are seeing in this window is a classic example of an AI integrated Chatbot. You can simply ask any question to the bot and get a spontaneous and relevant reply immediately. And this bot can process millions of such queries at the same time without pulling a single muscle.
Super awesome right?
So one can summarise it as – Artificial Intelligence exists inside systems, in software and robots need to have a body and perform physical tasks.
Where Do Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Mingle?
One of the reasons the line is blurry and people are confused about the differences between robotics, and artificial intelligence is because there are artificially intelligent robots—robots controlled by artificial intelligence. In combination, AI is the brain and robotics is the body. Let’s use an example to illustrate. A simple robot can be programmed to pick up an object and place it in another location and repeat this task until it’s told to stop. With the addition of a camera and an AI algorithm, the robot can “see” an object, detect what it is and determine from that where it should be placed. This is an example of an artificially intelligent robot.
Artificially intelligent robots are a fairly recent development. As research and development continue, we can expect artificially intelligent robots to start to reflect those humanoid characterizations we see in movies.
What are Artificially Intelligent Robots?
Artificially Intelligent robots are the merge of Artificial Intelligence and robotics, where Artificial Intelligence programs are embedded onto Robot systems. Artificial Intelligence plays a key role in making robots intelligent.
Artificial Intelligence questions the knowledge required in various forms of thinking. From how the knowledge should be represented to how it should be used. On the other hand, Robotics brings artificial intelligence into the real world and deal with objects in real-time.
Certain methods and processes developed for solving cognitive issues don’t always merge AI and robotics. While robotics deals with mechanical components such as computers, effectors, and sensors; Artificial intelligence contributes to the reasoning and perception of it.
So, together, Robotics and AI can create new problem-solving methods and function effectively, complementing each other.
Robots usually have preset programs where they are programmed to do a certain set of tasks with some limitations. But a programmed artificially intelligent robot can do tasks like perceiving and analyzing objects spontaneously. And even software robots like web crawlers can search the entire Internet in no time and de-clutter data.
An added benefit of using Artificial Intelligence in robotics is computer vision. Computer vision is an innovation under AI that gives the robot a vision. Computer vision plays an important role in aspects of security, health, aid, entertainment, etc.
It can independently identify, analyze and understand important information from one or many images and thus enables visual comprehension.
Some tasks that it can perform are –
- Detect, interpret and convert handwritten or scanned text into workable text using optical character recognition
- Facial detection and recognition, identifying various human expressions that add to sorted information and learning
- Object recognition can help register data, along with the estimate of the distance between the object and the robot, or human.
Domains that computer vision can help with are – Agriculture, Industries, Face recognition, Forensics, Security, Pollution Monitoring, Robotics, Transport, Gesture detection, Automatic Vehicles, Medical aid, and detection.
What are the Applications of Artificial Intelligence on Robotics?
With the help of Artificial Intelligence, robots are able to perform tasks better with multiple sensors and information processors. Adding computer vision, speech detection, locomotion, and data understanding makes Artificial Intelligent robots more efficient than we can ever imagine.
Artificially Intelligent Robots are also capable of performing tasks on human commands. They are equipped with sensors to detect physical information like temperature, sound, light, movement, etc. They have expert processors to use these modules effectively. They are also adaptable and have self-learning skills.
Artificial Intelligence helps robots not only grasp information using sensors from their surroundings but also convert that information to an application when assigned a task. It also makes the robot store the information for later use, perceive, and learn from it. Artificial intelligence also enhances the robot’s decision-making skills.
Two types of artificial intelligence are compatible with robotics. First is the software intelligence (provided by microprocessors, microcontrollers) that controls the hardware to carry out various actions and make decisions. The program further learns and adapts with experience.
The second type is hardware intelligence where the robot is allowed to imitate how humans process information through learning circuits.
Advantages of Integrating Artificial Intelligence on Robotics
- The major advantages of artificially intelligent robots are social care. They can guide people, especially come to aid for elderly people, with chatbots like social skills and advanced processors.
- Agricultural AI bots help farmers to ease their workload
- Military bots can spy through speech and vision detectors, along with saving lives by replacing infantry
- They can also be used for exploration in places where humans can be harmed. Like volcanoes, deep oceans, or extremely cold conditions, or even in space.
- They can also perform complex surgeries that have a higher risk of a mistake by humans, but with a pre-set of instructions along with added intelligence. AI integrated robotics could reduce the number of casualties greatly.