Since George Devol invented Ultimate, the first digitally programmable robot, in 1954, Robotics as science has continued to evolve.
Today the robotics industry has grown in leaps and bounds such that not a few people nurse secret fears over their potential impact on human jobs.
Robotics engineering, a very lucrative field, focuses on developing robots. These robots have to replicate human actions as much as possible to make them relevant.
Through advanced techniques, engineers have created highly sought-after robots in several fields, including medicine, manufacturing, and mining.
Robotic engineering has evolved into a massive goldmine as the field provides timely solutions to several critical problems.
It is considered a high-end professional career in most industrialized nations of the world, with mouthwatering job opportunities for those who can succeed in the field.
Robotics is also a multidisciplinary discipline because it couples together different fields of engineering, the most prominent of which are computer, systems, electronic and mechanical.
However, our focus is on the computer side of Robotic engineering, i.e., programming, which develops a control scheme that controls how a machine interacts with its environment to achieve the intended goals.
Programming in Robotics is how an engineer develops a system that determines how the robot operates, interacts with its environment, and performs its functions. Programming everywhere is possible only with a programming language.
Robots are made up of hardware and software components. Robotic software is where programming is relevant. Robots operate by following commands they receive from a computer.
This process of sending and receiving that information is programming, so, at the nucleus of robotics is programming.
There are different types of programming, and there are different types of programming languages. All robotic programmers know they need to learn several programming languages to stay on top of their game.
Let’s take a look at the best programming languages used in robotics. You must learn these languages, especially if you wish to specialize in robotics engineering.
It is, however, essential to note that it is not possible to rate one language over another as they all have their respective strengths. However, we have picked the seven most popular and widely used languages.
One of the most widely used languages in robotics is C/C++. If you’re interested in building a career in robotics or programming, you would certainly need to learn either C or C++. C++ is a programming language with the same features as C but with additional specifications that allow for complex application development as required in robotics.
Many rate C and C++ as the best programming languages for robotics. It is difficult to argue against them.
However, it is best to learn these languages first if you’re a beginner because they contain a lot of tools, and most hardware libraries use them. Also, they have lots of functions.
C++ is efficient in maximizing the performance and productivity ratio in robotics. So if you’re concerned primarily about the version of your robot, go for the C/C++.
Simplicity: C/C++ is unique in the sense that they are easy to use. That’s why it’s ideal for beginners. It is suitable for high-level language as well. It is very popular because it is easy to use and flexible. However, its simplicity doesn’t affect the quality of its output..
Efficient: Both C and C++ are efficient with good readability. While the C language is close to the assembly language, C++ adds several object-oriented features.
Useful across platforms: As a programming language, C/C++ is supported by most operating systems.
Memory leaks: There’s no garbage collection mechanism in C/C++. This can result in memory leaks.
Data security concerns: Although C++ has no such concerns, the C programming language has issues with data security due to the encapsulation of data.
Python is a high-level programming language with easy-to-use libraries that helps create robot programs. Its popularity is down to the fact that it is straightforward to use and consumes less time.
This is because less coding time is required with Python. Python is an interpreted language; thus, it implements instructions without first compiling them into machine language.
Python is an open-source program making it very easy to modify it for many platforms, often without any need for complex adjustments.
Ease and Speed: Python makes programming more accessible and faster. This is because it uses fewer coding lines than most other programming languages. Due to very little code involved, much can be achieved with minimal effort.
Large libraries: Python includes a large number of free libraries that make its functionality better. That way, you don’t have to start all over for anything.
Excellent for post-processing: Python is ideal for post-processing robot programs because the language can be used to write scripts that simulate, test, and then refine the program all at once.
When writing for big projects, the code can become messy
Being an interpreted language, it is easy for Python not to spot simple errors
Not ideal for large robot programming projects
Every professional in Robotics knows the importance of Java.
Java is an interpretative language, so it is not incorporated into machine language code. This may lead to more extended code running because the virtual machine interprets instructions at runtime.
It is this factor that has, however, made Java much sought after in Robotics programming.
Java is a reliable and secure programming language as it provides specialty APIs to Robots to perform human-like tasks. The Java Speech API, for example, offers easy voice control, voice recognition, and voice synthesis.
Java is very similar to the C/C++ languages because it was developed from them.
Ease and Speed: Because of its closeness to the C/C++ languages, Java is straightforward to learn and useful for those who want to venture into robotics. It is also fast and reliable.
Security: Java is safe as it stops malicious codes from aggregating. This provides an excellent layer of security.
Tailor-made APIs: Java language provides perfect APIs that are designed for robotics. With Java, robots can perform human-like tasks synthesizing speech, receiving and processing visual signals, and recognizing commands.
Cost: One of the significant weaknesses of Java is the relatively high cost of operation as it is more costly to run than most other languages.
You can’t run without the virtual machine: To run Java programs, a JAVA virtual machine needs to be installed.
MATLAB stands for Matrix Laboratory, and since matrices are a fundamental part of robotics, it plays a significant role.
Although in the traditional sense, MATLAB is not a programming language, it is still rated above several other robotic languages due to its proficiency in data analysis.
In robotics, MATLAB is used in every part, from the minute parts to the entire business structure robotic system. MATLAB can build entire robots from scratch.
MATLAB’s open-source programming background allows robotics engineers to test robots on their flexibility and productivity. It is also relevant in the development of mobile robots by providing kinematics.
MATLAB also has libraries that are used in analyzing data in real-time.
Variety of Simulation: MATLAB being a matrix laboratory allows for lots of complex simulations
Kinematics: As noted, MATLAB is a reliable system for kinematic analysis.
Wide toolbox: MATLAB has a toolbox that is used very widely
Difficult to Interface with hardware: MATLAB is not able to seamlessly integrate with robotics hardware
Cost: MATLAB is not only expensive but also difficult to share, except the recipient also has MATLAB
Few libraries: MATLAB has very few libraries options
Used to create programming languages, Pascal is one of the oldest programming languages and teaches programming skills for beginners. In robotics, Pascal is also used to create languages.
Pascal is ideal for beginners as it helps them learn to program more efficiently. Naturally, programmers can easily move to other programs as they gain more experience.
Pascal is also used in initial programming languages, and then used in Robotics training.
High speed: Pascal has a high speed and is one of the fastest programs
Low memory: Pascal uses low memory as it is a language compiled into fast machine. Free Pascal uses very little memory, which is a plus.
The main weakness of Pascal is that it is already too outdated to be that relevant anymore. However, as noted earlier, it is still very useful for beginners who need to get familiar with industrial robotics.
The biggest challenge about C#/.Net is that it is a complex language. It would be more appropriate to be proficient in C/C++ before venturing into C#, a Microsoft proprietary programming language.
Over time, C# has become highly relevant in Virtual Reality engines, which have an extensive application presently.
It is somehow limited to Microsoft Robotics programs.
There you have it, the best programming language that will make you understand the intricacies of robotics.
These programming languages have their distinctive features alongside the pros and cons. However, none is superior to the other
Max Ellis has been a professional educationist with lots of years and experience attached. he is passionate about learning and is determined to make learning fun and interactive for everyone. As a seasoned teacher, he has received accolades and recognition for the fantastic work he’s doing to improve education. TheUniPod is one of the many projects to offer simple but rich posts on educational articles and an intensive buying guide to get only the best material and equipment to improve learning.