Programming and Robotics: Robot Coding Languages
Programming and Robotics: Robot Coding Languages
A robot is an intelligent machine that has the ability to perceive its environment, make decisions based on calculations, and then perform certain actions based on those decisions.
The process of giving a robot human properties, such as movement, communication, and other useful functions, is also known as robot programming. With the help of code, a set of algorithmic instructions, and languages, you can program any machine or electronic device. But can a robot work without programming?
The place of programming in robotics
Since robotics is built on three foundations: the application of electronics, mechanics, and computer software, it is safe to say that programming and robotics always go hand in hand. So, for example, with the help of programming, we can program a computer to create websites, applications, games, and many other amazing digital things.
From the point of view of the educational field, programming and robotics for children are not purely a study of theoretical facts. First of all, it is about the development of logical skills, it teaches you to think about how to complete a given task, and not to think about what needs to be done to complete it. That is why robotics for children is becoming more popular in Ukraine. There are more and more STEM schools and clubs, one such example is the Robo House.
How robots are programmed
Thanks to the commands entered into the robot control system, information is interpreted and transferred into the robot’s programming language. More and more scientists and manufacturers are interested in this process because the interest in the robotization of processes is growing, as well as investments in projects related to programming and robotics. To understand how robots are programmed, you need to dive a little deeper.
As we already know, a robot is an intelligent machine that has the ability to perceive its environment, make decisions based on calculations, and then perform certain actions based on those decisions.
The main components of programming and operation are executive mechanisms (motors), sensors, a computing unit, and programs for robots.
This is the brain of the robot, it helps in making decisions. It mainly takes the form of microcontrollers, single-board computers and PLCs.
In industrial robots, actuators (motors) help to move the joint of the robot in a linear or angular direction. The actuators are controlled by a motor controller circuit and a microcontroller/PLC (programmable logic controller) interface. Some drives are controlled directly via the USB interface of a PC or SBC (single board computer). Examples of such drives are servo drives, stepper motors, and DC gear motors.
Help provide robot status and information about the environment, have an interface with a microcontroller or a PC. Low-end sensors – ultrasonic and infrared – can interact with a microcontroller. High-quality sensors – cameras and laser scanners can interact directly with a PC. Some other examples of robot sensors are wheel encoders, ultrasonic sensors, and cameras.
A power supply unit or battery is used to power all robot components.
The actions of robots are actually based on a program executed on a microcontroller or PC.
In general, robot programming focuses on programming the PC/PLC/microcontroller/PLC inside the robot to perform a specific task using actuators and feedback from various sensors. Programs for robots include selecting and placing an object, moving the robot from point A to point B, etc.
Different programming languages can be used to program robots. C/C++, Python, Java, C# etc. are used from PC. The microcontrollers use Embedded C, the Wiring language (based on C++) used in Arduino, and Mbed programming.
Today there are more than a thousand languages for programming robots. To understand how this field of robotics works, you need to dive a little deeper.
Top 5 languages for programming robots
It is one thing to design a robot, another thing is to implement it. But this is where robot programming languages come to the rescue, providing the ability and “intelligence” to perform important tasks. There are currently more than 1,500 languages, but only a few are widely used in robotics. Moreover, in recent years, leading robotics manufacturers have focused on making robot programming more intuitive, so they mostly have their own programming language, for example, ABB uses RAPID.
We have developed our own top languages for programming robots.
C and C++ are #1 among robotics languages. Although C++ is not so easy to work with because it requires software to be compiled, it is still one of the most reliable programming languages. It allows you to create complex programs that follow a clear structure.
Today, C++ is arguably more useful in robotics than C. However, the latter remains one of the most energy-efficient programming languages.
A very flexible and fast open-source prototyping language. It is probably one of the easiest, most popular and most versatile languages.
It is object-oriented programming (OOP), completely connected with the development of artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
In addition, there are a large number of free libraries for Python, so programmers do not have to “reinvent the wheel” to implement some basic functionality.
Python is useful in robotics because it is one of the main programming languages in ROS (along with C++). But it may become even more popular as more robotic electronics support this language by default.
It is a BASIC language and is literally based on the BASIC language. Most often, industrial robots are programmed in the Pascal language. It is simple because it uses structured programming and data structuring.
Java is a general-purpose object-oriented programming language based on classes. It is designed to allow application developers to build code once and then reuse it anywhere. In other words, JAVA code can run on any JAVA-enabled platform without the need for recompilation.
JAVA is a useful language in robotics and is used in the creation of artificial intelligence.
Scratch is extremely popular among beginning roboticists. It is a visual programming language, in fact, its principle of operation is dragging and connecting blocks.
Most often, it is studied at the age of eight to sixteen in robotics circles.
Programming languages differ among themselves, but they have one goal – to help the robot function at the command of a person. Although there are thousands of programming languages, today almost every robot comes with its own language. Although this approach is progressive, it also has its consequences. After all, this means that with the appearance of a new robot, users will have to learn a new language every time in order to be able to adjust the robot to their needs.