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  • Writer's pictureMichael Paulyn

Robotics vs. Artificial Intelligence: Exploring the Distinctions and Synergies

Updated: Mar 9

Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) may seem synonymous, but they are distinct fields with different functionalities. While robots can incorporate AI, many existing robotic systems operate successfully without it. In this article, we will delve into the disparities between robotics and AI and explore the emerging applications of AI in cutting-edge robotics.


Image: AI-Generated using Lexica Art

Understanding Robotics

Robotics encompasses the engineering and computer sciences branch dedicated to constructing machines that perform programmed tasks autonomously without extensive human intervention. The scope of robotics spans from simple mechanical arms used in car assembly lines to sophisticated robots like Wall-E or Amazon's upcoming Astro, a home robot equipped with Alexa capabilities.


Traditionally, robots are for scenarios where tasks are either too challenging for humans to execute efficiently (such as moving heavy parts on an assembly line) or highly repetitive. Robots excel at tirelessly performing monotonous tasks, whereas humans are prone to boredom, fatigue, and subsequent errors.


Distinguishing Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

While robotics and artificial intelligence are sometimes used interchangeably (albeit incorrectly), they represent distinct concepts. Artificial intelligence involves systems that emulate human cognition, enabling them to learn, problem-solve, and make decisions autonomously without relying solely on pre-programmed instructions.


Robotics, conversely, pertains to the construction and programming of robots to fulfill specific duties. In most cases, this does not necessitate the integration of artificial intelligence, as the tasks performed by robots are often predictable and repetitive and do not require additional cognitive processing.


Image: AI-Generated using Lexica Art

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Robotics

Although robotics and artificial intelligence can coexist, integrating AI in robotics remains a minority practice. However, AI-enabled robotics will likely become more prevalent as AI systems advance. Below are some examples of existing robots that utilize AI:


1. Robotics for Households

Amazon's Astro bot, equipped with AI and periscope cameras, autonomously navigates homes and acts as an intelligent assistant when the owners are away. Robot vacuums also employ AI for efficient navigation and advanced features such as pet excrement detection.


2. Robotics in Manufacturing (Industry 4.0)

AI plays a transformative role in manufacturing robotics, where complex tasks require more than programmed automation. Companies like Vicarious utilize AI algorithms to enable robots to navigate busy warehouses, while the Shadow Dexterous Hand demonstrates advanced agility and learning capabilities, revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry.


3. Robotics for Business

Starship Technologies' delivery robots utilize mapping systems, sensors, and AI to navigate urban environments and optimize delivery routes. Miso Robotics' Flippy employs 3D and thermal vision, constantly learning from its surroundings in commercial kitchens, while Moley's Robotic Kitchen showcases the future of catering.


4. Robotics in Healthcare

Robots can assist medical professionals by performing lower-skilled tasks, freeing up time for doctors to focus on critical care. Robots like Moxi can distribute personal protective equipment and run patient samples. At the same time, Cobionix developed a robot capable of administering needleless vaccinations, reducing the need for human supervision during the COVID-19 pandemic.


5. Robotics in Agriculture

AI-integrated robots in agriculture address labor shortages and optimize resource usage. The Agrobot E-Series uses AI to assess the ripeness of harvested strawberries, facilitating efficient harvesting. Iron Ox combines AI and robotics to ensure each plant receives optimal sunlight, water, and nutrients, minimizing waste and improving yields.


6. Robotics in Aerospace

In space exploration, AI and robotics enhance the capabilities of astronauts. Airbus' CIMON assists astronauts with daily tasks, reduces stress through speech recognition, and is an early-warning system. Autonomous rovers, like iSpace's rover, may contribute to establishing colonies on the Moon, away from our home here on Earth.


Stay Tuned for More!

If you want to learn more about the dynamic and ever-changing world of AI, well, you're in luck! stoik AI is all about examining this exciting field of study and its future potential applications. Stay tuned for more AI content coming your way. In the meantime, check out all the past blogs on the stoik AI blog!




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