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Learn: Robotics

The Learn Page is under continual development. If you see a section with missing articles today, check back tomorrow to see new content! If you're an experienced roboticist, hobbyist, or developer and want to contribute to our LEARN database, let us know.

What does it mean to be a robot?

Most generously, a robot is any piece of technology capable of making actions based on measurements it takes. This "robot" is Smoking Spaceman, a Metal House Robot toy from the 1950s and not a robot by this definition.

At Aerospace Robotics, we use the paradigm of Sense - Think - Act to think about how robots work, design them, and present many of our lessons. Even if a robot is ultimately designed a different way, S-T-A is usually still a useful way to start. While there may be some technical or philosophical arguments about what “Thinking” is required for a system to count as a robot, for our purposes here, we’ll consider anything that’s capable of sensing something about itself or its environment, processing or otherwise reshaping that information, and then acting (especially with physical parts!) based on its processing (or thinking) to be a robot.

Read more about what it means to be a robot or jump ahead to the rest of the Learn section!


This is an AN/SPS-49 radar unit, frequently used on U.S. destroyers and other big ships, which are definitely more robotic than Mr. Spaceman but are perhaps not centralized or human-independent enough to qualify as robots.

  • Idiothetic Sensors: Sensing your own state
  • Allothetic Sensors: Sensing the world around you
  • Communication Sensors: Technically sensors, but see dedicated Communicate section
  • Sensor Drivers (the basic thinking part of sensing)
  • Filtering (thinking smartly about sensing)


This is art, not a robot, but it does convey the idea of a robot or computer brain quite nicely.

  • White Matter: The Hardware of Robot Brains
  • Organizing Your Robot Brain
  • Intro to Robotics Software
  • Thinking to Sense (Measuring & Filtering)
  • Thinking to Act (Control, Manipulation & Navigation)
  • Thinking to Communicate (or Interface?)


The Theremino Robotic Arm, part of an Italian open-source electronics project (no, not that one).

  • Actuators
  • Control Electronics & Drivers
  • Control Theory, Manipulation & Navigation
  • Act Codebase: Control Software & Drivers
  • Hardware

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