Robots are becoming a popular choice for companies to solve complex issues, and the robotics market is expected to experience growth of almost $50 billion by 2025.
While we traditionally use robots in structured environments, using inputs and outputs that are both known and regulated, we are seeing a fast uptake of industrial robots. This has led to no small increase in interest from those with programming experience who want to get involved. And by the end of this decade, we expect to see a huge boost in demand for robot programmers.
All robots are programmed to perform specific actions and that programming is either off-line or guiding. Most industrial robots are programmed by guiding it from one point to the next, each step of an operation, and storing the steps or points in the control system.
Computer commands are used to give the robots their instructions in a process called “manipulator-level offline programming” which involves the use of high-level languages, where actions are defined by objectives or tasks. Anyone who wants to get involved in robotics programming must be knowledgeable on many different programming languages.
After all, switching between computers and robots is not the easiest of transitions.
Robot Programming Languages
While there are over 1500 programming languages, some are more popular than others. And if you want to dab into the field of robotics, then these are the ones you need to learn:
Both are general purpose languages, and they are ideal for roboticists to learn. Both C and C++ contain generic, object-oriented and imperative features, which allows for low-level hardware interaction and real-time performance.
One of the most popular high-level programming languages, Python is key in both building robots and testing them. It is one of the best platforms for automating and teaching robot programs, and allows for scripts that calculate and record an entire program as well as simulation. It takes fewer code lines than C or C++ require, making Python essential for programming autonomous robots.
Java language provides the functions needed for robotic systems to carry out human-like tasks. It does those through a series of APIs specifically for robotics. Programmers can use the language to build dictation systems, as well as command-and-control recognizers. Speech synthesizers can also be easily designed using the Speech API, while receipt and processing of visual images can be done by making use of the Media Framework API. Of all the languages used, Java provides some of the best high-level features needed for artificial intelligence, allowing for very efficient algorithms to be built. And that’s not even talking about the fact that one code can be used on all different machines.
The proprietary language from Microsoft, C# is used for application development in Visual Studio. This platform gives programmers a decent foundation from which they can move onto other fields, and tends to be most used in socket and port-level programming. It allows for the use of multiple languages, and is scalable horizontally. In addition to that, with .NET, you have a unified environment for using VB, Java or C++ for creating programs.
This is not technically a language, more of a tool used for finding engineering solutions based on Math. It is an essential tool for robot programmers to learn if they want to implement control systems, produce highly advanced graphs, and analyze data. It is useful for the design of an entire robotic system, and has deep roots in the development of robots. MATLAB is also a simulation tool, allowing you to provide a design or algorithm which it then simulates for you.
Which One is Best?
Any one of these programming languages or tools will help you in robot development. But your first port of call should be C or C++, followed by Python as the primary robotics languages. In fact, while many believe that both C and C++ are becoming outdated, more and more robot developers are choosing them, as they have more library functions and tools.
No matter which one you learn, though, all of these languages are useful in robotics programming, one way or another.