Types of Robots: How Robotics Technologies Are Shaping Today’s World

Find out how different types of robots are making an impact and enabling amazing outcomes—across form factors, functions, and industries.

Key Takeaways:

  • The six most common types of robots are autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), automated guided vehicles (AGVs), articulated robots, humanoids, cobots, and hybrids.

  • Robots are used to drive efficiency, expedite processes, improve safety, and enhance experiences across many industries.

  • Intel offers the computing hardware, AI technologies, and vision solutions that enable robots to sense and understand the world around them.

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From carefully harvesting crops to assembling automobiles and delivering medications, robotics solutions are enhancing productivity, improving safety, and enabling greater flexibility in a variety of industries. Innovative organizations are finding forward-thinking robotics applications that help them deliver tangible results. Intel works closely with manufacturers, system integrators, and end customers to help ensure robots deliver powerful, human-centric outcomes.

Common Types of Robots

As robotics manufacturers continue to deliver innovations across capabilities, price, and form factor, robotics solutions are being implemented in an ever-increasing number of industries and applications. Advancements in processing power and AI capabilities mean that we can now use robots to fulfill critical purposes in a plethora of ways.

While robotics applications vary greatly—giving directions, stocking shelves, welding metal in dangerous environments, and much more—today’s robots can generally be grouped into six categories.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

AMRs move throughout the world and make decisions in near real-time as they go. Technologies such as sensors and cameras help them ingest information about their surroundings. Onboard processing equipment helps them analyze it and make an informed decision—whether that’s moving to avoid an oncoming worker, picking precisely the right parcel, or selecting an appropriate surface to disinfect. They’re mobile solutions that require limited human input to do their job. Learn more about AMRs.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

While AMRs traverse environments freely, AGVs rely on tracks or predefined paths and often require operator oversight. These are commonly used to deliver materials and move items in controlled environments such as warehouses and factory floors.

Articulated Robots

Articulated robots (also known as robotic arms) are meant to emulate the functions of a human arm. Typically, these can feature anywhere from two to 10 rotary joints. Each additional joint or axis allows for a greater degree of motion—making these ideal for arc welding, material handling, machine tending, and packaging. Learn more about articulated robots and robotic arms.

Humanoids

While many mobile humanoid robots may technically fall under the domain of an AMR, the term is used to identify robots that perform human-centric functions and often take human-like forms. They use many of the same technology components as AMRs to sense, plan, and act as they carry out tasks such as providing directions or offering concierge services.

Cobots

Cobots are designed to function alongside or directly with humans. While most other types of robots perform their tasks independently, or in strictly isolated work areas, cobots can share spaces with workers to help them accomplish more. They’re often used to eliminate manual, dangerous, or strenuous tasks from day-to-day workflows. In some cases, cobots can operate by responding to and learning from human movements.

Hybrids

The various types of robots are often combined to create hybrid solutions that are capable of more complex tasks. For example, an AMR might be combined with a robotic arm to create a robot for handling packages inside of a warehouse. As more functionality is combined into single solutions, compute capabilities are also consolidated.

Fixed Vs. Nonfixed Location Robots

Robots can also be broadly categorized in to two groups: those that move around their environment and those that do not.

Mobile Stationary
  • AMRs
  • AGVs
  • Humanoids
  • Hybrids
  • Articulated robots
  • Cobots

How Robots Are Used Across Industries

Businesses and government agencies use robotics in a variety of ways. All five of the common robot types are deployed to enhance outcomes and reduce the burden on employees so they can focus on the most-valuable and most-critical tasks.

Industrial

The manufacturing industry has long been at the forefront of using various types of robots to achieve business results. AMRs, AGVs, articulated robots, and cobots are all deployed on factory floors and in warehouses to help expedite processes, drive efficiency, and promote safety—often in conjunction with programmable logic controllers. They’re used across a variety of applications, including welding, assembly, materials transportation, and warehouse security.

Farming and Agriculture

AMRs are helping farmers harvest their crops more quickly and efficiently—and they’re using impressive intelligence capabilities to do it. Agricultural robots can assess ripeness, move any branches or leaves out of the way, and pick the crop precisely and delicately to avoid causing any harm to the product.

Healthcare

Various types of robots are used in the healthcare industry to enhance the patient experience. AMRs are used to deliver medication, disinfect surfaces, or provide mobile telepresence functionality. Cobots are also used to assist medical professionals during rehabilitation or to help nurses better serve their patients.

Logistics

Robotics help logistics and shipping companies to deliver goods quickly and efficiently. They use AMRs and AGVs as warehouse robots that help them process items, expedite operations, and increase accuracy. They also employ AMRs to take shipments the last mile and ensure safe delivery to customers.

Retail and Hospitality

Robotics can be used to enhance the customer or guest experience in a variety of ways. Retail and hospitality companies are using robotics to automate inventory processes, provide concierge or way-finding services, clean various environments, and assist customers with their luggage or valet parking.

Smart Cities

Robotics help create smarter and safer cities. Humanoid robots offer way-finding and information services. AMRs are used to deliver goods and conduct routine security patrols. Robotics also help expedite building construction, conduct site surveys, and collect building modeling information.

Intel’s Impact on Robotics

Across industries, Intel plays an integral role in empowering robots to sense, plan, and act accordingly.

Our processorFPGA and VPU solutions are used in many types of robots to provide the essential compute capabilities they need for intelligent, automated operation.

We also help power the larger technology ecosystem that robots operate in—from edge servers and devices to data centers. Our Intel® oneAPI programming model and the Intel® Distribution of OpenNESS help robotics manufacturers and software companies to more easily create and deploy the edge applications their solutions require.

With our Intel® RealSense™ cameras, we help enable the essential machine vision capabilities that allow robots to understand the world around them. And with the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit, we’re empowering developers to more easily deploy AI capabilities on robotics solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

The six most common types of robots are autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), automated guided vehicles (AGVs), robotic arms, cobots, humanoid robots, and hybrids.

In addition to the six core categories, robots can also be broadly categorized into two groups: stationary, fixed-location robots that move and mobile, nonfixed-location solutions.

Robots ensure that human workers can focus on the most-critical parts of their job. They’re frequently applied to handle repetitive, manual tasks—as well as jobs that are overly strenuous or dangerous.

Intel offers a wide range of solutions for various types of robots. Our processing and compute hardware is used in many robotics applications. Our cameras and machine vision technologies are used to help robots understand the world around them. We also offer various software kits and development tools to help robotics manufacturers deliver the capabilities and performance they require.

Intel offers a wide range of solutions for various types of robots. Our processing and compute hardware is used in many robotics applications. Our cameras and machine vision technologies are used to help robots understand the world around them. We also offer various software kits and development tools to help robotics manufacturers deliver the capabilities and performance they require.