A remote robot is a device that is able to move and interact with the environment through external control. There are many different types of remote robots, ranging from simple children's toys to advanced scientific research machines. Remote control robots differ from autonomous robots, as the latter can act without human control, but the former require an operator to provide commands.
The word "robot" comes from the Czech term "robota," which means "work or labor." People have attempted to build mechanical workers for hundreds of years. The famous Italian inventor Leonardo da Vinci, for instance, sketched plans for mechanical robots in the 15th century. It was not until the technical advances in the 19th and 20th centuries that remote controlled robots became feasible.
Several varieties of remote robots exist, all of which require a connection to the operator. Basic remote controlled robots use a physical cable or wire to link a moving device to the controller. Remote controlled toys, such as children's cars and tractors, are examples of this in simple form. An industrial welding robot that is linked by a cable to a computer is a more advanced example.
These machines do not necessarily require a physical link to the operator. Teleoperated robots use a wireless link in place of an actual cable. The control signal of a teleoperated remote robot may use infrared, radio frequency, or ultrasonic transmission. The first instance of a teleoperated remote robot was developed in 1898 by Nikola Tesla, who built a torpedo guided by radio signals. Military developments such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are modern examples of remote robots controlled by radio.
No matter the method of control, remote robotic systems have many advantages, as remote robots are able to operate in harsh or dangerous environments that would put humans at risk. Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), for instance, are used by undersea scientists to dive thousands of feet underwater. These highly technical ROVs have been used to explore shipwrecks such as the Titanic and Bismarck at depths that are impossible for human divers to reach. Remote robots also allow police departments to disarm bombs without putting human officers at risk.
Remote robots are also a major part of space exploration. Several countries have used robots called "rovers" to explore space locations including the Moon and Mars. Rovers typically use radio frequency signals to receive commands, just like a simple remote control car. Due to the distance involved in controlling a rover, however, the control signal must be very powerful and can take minutes to successfully reach the remote robot.