What Is a Remote Robot?

Benjamin Arie

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.

Leonardo da Vinci sketched plans for mechanical robots in the 15th century.
Leonardo da Vinci sketched plans for mechanical robots in the 15th century.

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.

The robots used by police to defuse bombs are currently remote robots.
The robots used by police to defuse bombs are currently remote robots.

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.

A remote controlled toy robot may use a radio frequency transmission signal.
A remote controlled toy robot may use a radio frequency transmission signal.

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.

Remote control planes and helicopters are a type of simple robot.
Remote control planes and helicopters are a type of simple robot.

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Discussion Comments


@turkay1-- There are really advanced remote robots available to the public, but they are usually used for research and educational purposes by institutions. Actually, most of the remote control toy robots were first invented and used by the military in different forms. This is true for the majority of technological equipment. The Disney Wall-E robot for example, looks very similar to the Warrior military robot.

One such other robot is the Humanoid robot which is probably one of the most sophisticated ones out there available to the public. I was reading about it on a forum recently and the types of movements it can do is unbelievable. Toppling over is not even a possibility.

This robot can even stand on its head and I'm not joking. But along with such qualities comes a price tag equivalent to half the yearly income of a new college graduate! So that's why more than individuals, educational institutions invest in these to use in classes and for research.


@feruze-- I don't have a robot appliance but I did buy a remote control robot toy for my son. It was quite expensive but he had been asking for it for a couple of years now and we finally got it.

I don't know about how a robot appliance will work, but I'm not as impressed with our robot toy as much as I thought I would be. It's a robot that is controlled with an infrared remote. It can walk around, use its hands to hold things and even move its head. The remote is very much like a joystick and you press the various buttons to move different parts of the robot front, back, right or left.

It's fun but the issue is that it's not very stable at all. Despite being so advanced, it keeps tipping over any time the texture of the floor changes as it walks around. So you have to go over, and place it upright again.

My son still has a lot of fun with it and he doesn't mind helping it get back up on its feet. But I hope that toy makers will come up with some better ones that mimic the military type robots. Those are amazing and won't topple no matter what.


I've been wanting to get a remote robot vacuum for some time now. I think the idea of vacuuming the house remotely without even leaving the couch is really cool. The one I'm interested in also has sensors, so it detects objects around it and doesn't slam into it. It simply goes around it.

For a higher price, there are also ones that can scan and map its surroundings and clean it on its own without a person controlling it with a remote. Those are really nice too, but I can't afford them. I also think that that's a bit too technologically advanced for me. After all, I'm just trying to vacuum the house.

Just wondering, does anyone have a remote robot vacuum or a similar robot house appliance? Do you think it's worth the cost?

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