Automation is advancing in almost every industry. As it progresses, it’s becoming more important to keep track of what kinds of robotics are available on the market and what they can do. For example, robotic fish, birds and humanoids are progressing quickly, and it probably won’t be long before they’re on the market.

As far as the more perhaps practical use of robots — since a robotic fish can, well, only swim so far —most of the robots used in industry have robust designs that have been available for a few years. These are the kinds of robots we’ll focus on, and here are seven of them:

1. Cartesian

These robots are also called rectangular arm geometry robots, which should give you a good idea of what they do. These robots can only move linearly in each direction. This often gives you a significant amount of control in an area.

These are excellent for material handling. A Cartesian robot is the simplest kind of robot configuration, and one of the oldest.

2. Cylindrical

These robots typically have a rotary joint at the base and a prismatic joint to connect the links. The number of each kind of joint varies based on what the robot is designed to do and how complex the job is. With multiple axes, these robots can move up and down, back and forth, and rotate.

The prismatic joint also accommodates different lengths. It’s ideal for spot welding, machine tending and die-casting.

3. Polar

Polar robots are the next step up. These spherical robots are incredibly useful for welding, machine tending, assembly, material handling and painting. They use a linear motion system, coupled with base and shoulder rotation.

This allows them to have a wider range of movement than the previous two. However, this particular robot tends to be very large, taking up valuable floor space. It does not achieve a spherical reach until the arm is extended, which makes it less than ideal for work near the main body.

4. Articulated

An articulated robot has rotary joints. Often they’re considered the “arm” configuration. Although they can have up to 10 rotary joints, four to six joints are more common, and they can do most jobs effectively. Articulated robots are ubiquitous and can have a great deal of dexterity. They usually have a gripper and are excellent for machine tending, welding, cutting steel and painting.

The downside to this type of robot is that it’s more expensive than others, and you need to have someone to operate it. It’s a pretty technical robot and requires a highly skilled technician. Repairs can also be costly. However, the excellent maneuverability and the minimal use of floor space may very well make up for that.

5. Delta

Delta robots are also called parallel robots because they typically consist of three or more jointed parallelograms, all of which are connected to the base. These robots usually hang down for the arms to reach down and grab items as they come by.

A good example of a delta robot would be a picker. It’s handy for “pick and place” tasks like you would see on an assembly line in the food or drug industry.


SCARA stands for Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm. It’s essentially a “smart” cylindrical robot, not an articulated robot, as the name implies. However, the added benefit of selective compliance means that the robot should make fewer mistakes and react to a changing environment a bit better.

Of course, an increase in AI means you’ll need to hire a more skilled operator for it and will probably pay a higher price for the hardware. It has been increasing in popularity, though, and that trend is expected to continue.

7. Wheeled Robots

For transportation, wheeled robots are the best option if you don’t want to deal with a conveyer belt or if you need to transport material outside. Although technological advances may soon see the use of all-terrain wheeled robots, you still probably want to stick with the straightforward options for now and just keep your lot clear.

This robot seems pretty self-explanatory, but its main purpose is transport. These robots can be pretty expensive, and they aren’t very good at dealing with unexpected obstacles, like people. If you do get one, make sure your employees know about it!

Robots Now and in the Future

These are just the most common options for industrial robots, but robotics as an industry is starting to blossom. Legged robots aren’t exactly mainstream yet, but they will be soon. This means almost all of these “traditional” robot options will continue to fall in price and get smarter.

For now, though, the robot you choose should depend on what you need. Don’t get extra features if you don’t need them — unless it’s a robotic fish.