Robots are taking over the world. OK, not really. Not yet. But they are becoming increasingly prevalent in almost every industry, from healthcare and manufacturing to defense and education.

Robotics is the intersection of science, engineering and technology that produces machines, called robots, that substitute for (or replicate) human actions. Pop culture has always been fascinated with robots. R2-D2. Optimus Prime. WALL-E. These over-exaggerated, humanoid concepts of robots usually seem like a caricature of the real thing…or are they more forward thinking than we realize? Robots are gaining intellectual and mechanical capabilities that don’t put the possibility of a R2-D2-like machine out of reach in the future.

As technology progresses, so too does the scope of what is considered robotics. These robots consist mainly of mechanical arms tasked with welding or screwing on certain parts of a car.

While the overall world of robotics is expanding, a robot has some consistent characteristics:

  1. Robots all consist of some sort of mechanical construction. The mechanical aspect of a robot helps it complete tasks in the environment for which it’s designed.
  2. Robots need electrical components that control and power the machinery. Essentially, an electric current (a battery, for example) is needed to power a large majority of robots.
  3. Robots contain at least some level of computer programming. Without a set of code telling it what to do, a robot would just be another piece of simple machinery. Inserting a program into a robot gives it the ability to know when and how to carry out a task.
  4. They’ll also continue to be a main focal point in smart factories, where they’ll take on more difficult challenges and help to secure global supply chains.

Though relatively young, the robotics industry is filled with an admirable promise of progress that science fiction could once only dream about. From the deepest depths of our oceans to thousands of miles in outer space, robots will be found performing tasks that humans couldn’t dream of achieving alone.