The fields of automation and robotics are often confused, because many people do not fully understand the differences between automation and robotics; those differences are revealed through how each works. One of the major differences between automation and robotics is whether the machine performs a single set of operations or if the sequence can be mixed up or changed for better efficiency. If the machine receives sensory feedback, then the machine can change sequences automatically for the best results. Some machines are able to learn from mistakes, or through constant exposure, while others will lack this ability. The level of movement also is different between automation and robotics, with one being faster and more complex.
Machines are programmed to follow operations, such as picking up a computer chip or moving a part around. Automation can only follow one set of operations, and it cannot be changed once programmed. Robots are made to perform several jobs at once, and the sequence of operations can be switched around to make the processes more efficient. The timing of the operations also can be changed in robotics, if needed.
In both fields, the machine will be exposed to outside stimuli, but only one type of machine will react to this stimuli. The automated machine will not react; even if there is an object blocking the automation, it will continue doing the same operation. Robots are made to react so, if something blocks or stops the robot, it will change operations to best fit the situation.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a programming method in which the machine is able to collect information about the outside world and can then apply that knowledge to best perform its function. Automation and robotics treat this knowledge differently. Automated machines are unable to collect knowledge and can't be programmed with any form of intelligence. Robots can be made with intelligence and they are able to learn from mistakes; this allows the robot to fix problems, if it is exposed to them long enough.
The amount of movement and overall velocity of both a robot and automation are generally very different. Automated machines are made for slow work and are typically programmed with very simple movements. For example, an automated arm may be able to pick up a chip, rotate and then place the chip somewhere else. A robot can work faster and is able to accommodate complex movements.