A robot is a mechanical device that sometimes resembles, in whole or in part, a human being and is capable of carrying out a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance. More generally, a robot, or automaton, is a machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control.


robot in the film RUR


Robots have evolved out of simpler automatic devices, and many are now capable of decision-making, self-programming, and carrying out complex operations. Many have sensory devices. They are widely used in industry for mass production, including welding, grinding, paint spraying, and die casting. They can work in environments that are dangerous or unpleasant to humans, and can perform manipulation tasks faster and more accurately than humans without tiring. As time goes on, advances in artificial intelligence will allow robots to become more flexible, and they will become capable of performing an even greater variety of tasks, decision-making and autonomous operation. They will be equipped with increasingly sophisticated sensors for artificial vision, touch, etc.


The word "robot" is both a coinage by an individual person and a borrowing. It has been in English since 1923 when the Czech writer Karel Capek's play R.U.R. was translated into English and presented in London and New York. R.U.R., published in 1921, is an abbreviation of Rossum's Universal Robots; the word "robot" itself comes from Czech robota, "servitude, forced labor," from rab, "slave." Interestingly, the artificial beings in Capek's play would today be considered more akin to androids rather than robots.