One of the many things that both the real world and science fiction have in common is the popular appearance of robots in a lot of applications where people were once required.
Androids also have their fair share of glory in pop culture. They represent a growing field of robotics that specializes in robots with human-like appearances.
So, what exactly is an android and what is a robot?
In this article we will talk about the significant differences between robots and androids.
Basically, the major difference between robots and androids is that the former does not have to resemble a human, the later has to resemble humans.
A robot is, first of all, a machine. However, unlike a regular machine, a robot is endowed with the ability to work autonomously by relying on its program, a series of instructions that it is given to it in order to perform its intended task.
All robots are, in essence, machines however not all machines are robots.
On this same hand, we have androids. In simple terms, an android is a robot with the added characteristic that it resembles a human being in appearance.
What this means is that an android can easily be confused for a human being when appearance is considered.
Androids are technically designed in a way that they look like a regular person. They may possess human-like physical features that can in many ways make them almost indistinguishable from a person at first glance.
These two terms have been used interchangeably for a while to mean the same thing. A robot. But there are some subtle differences between a robot and an android that can be used to show that these are not the same thing.
Also Read: Differences between robots and machines
3 Significant Differences Between Robots and Androids
While there are plenty of differences between the two, the following the important differences between robots and androids.
Physical appearance is the one of the major differences between robots and androids.
A regular robot can possess a certain degree of likeness to a person such as the presence of limbs like arms and legs and a part that passes for a head.
This alone, however, will not grant it access into the realm of androids.
A robot may not necessarily look like a human. A robot may not even possess any humanoid characteristics.
Consider the iRobot Roomba, an affordable home robot that vacuums the house automatically. It has nothing in appearance that looks even remotely human.
These complex robots are designed from the ground up to pass for a human being and they even make some parts of their bodies like faces and arms from silicon casts of actual people. This is done so as to enhance their resemblance to people.
Humanoid-Robots vs Androids
Robots that look nothing like a person yet possess an almost human-like appearance are known as Humanoid Robots.
They have the general appearance of the human body without necessarily looking like a person.
An android, on the other hand, has these features and more that can make it seem human-like in appearance. This can include an outer body that mimics skin, facial features, wrinkles etc.
Identifying an android
A general rule of thumb with identifying an android from a regular robot is this uncanny resemblance of human features.
Recent advances have made it possible for robots to mimic human nature in many aspects including behavior. These will be discussed in later subtopics.
To sum up the point of appearance, an android in many cases will look and act like a human being.
Also Read: Reasons Why Robots Are Important Today
Without the additional complexity of being almost human, an android would be just like any other robot.
While a robot on its own is an equally complex piece of machinery, an android takes this complexity a step higher by incorporating some human features such as facial expressions.
Human aspects such as blinking and eye movements have been incorporated into many modern-day androids to help them appear as human as possible.
An example of an android that takes complexity to a whole new level is Erica, created as a collaboration between engineers from different institutions in 2015.
Mimicking complex human behavior
Erica can synthesize a voice that that is near human-like, you’d think you’re talking to a real person.
The android is also capable of displaying some facial expressions, a feat that would require a lot of engineering on the part of the designers and developers.
Many robots cannot synthesize natural language, let alone use basic human expressions in conjunction with their speech in a conversation.
Plus robots DO NOT HAVE to mimic human behavior, that is not what they are built for.
Most robots that come close to resembling human beings are the aforementioned humanoid robots and many are still lacking in a lot of the areas where androids like Erica shine.
Furthermore, androids can imitate human-like motion and some can even show as much dexterity as a human being.
Advanced androids can imitate the complexities of advanced human behavior and reproduce them in various scenarios.
According to the design teams behind some ultrarealistic androids, they make use of actuators to give the robots the ability to pull off certain facial expressions.
This extra step would be unnecessary in a regular robot but quite necessary for an android.
Areas of Application
Robots are usually constructed to help humans with some mundane or repetitive tasks. Besides that, they are also used to perform some of the risky jobs that people should not have to do.
This is mainly due to a robot’s efficiency and accuracy. They can replicate high-quality work as long as they are programmed to do so and when the conditions are met.
Androids on the other hand are, for the most part, produced for the same. Although, it is not unheard of for androids to have some purposes that regular robots do not.
This example can be attributed to Erica the robot as it was also designed to anchor a news segment in Japan. A first for robotics. Androids are also developed for research. It is important to see the limits of engineering and the outcome for the field of robotics and androids can help with that.
Use in multiple industries
Androids have been used to research human-robot interaction due to their near human-like appearance. An android can suit such a task very well due to its close resemblance to human beings.
While this is the case, other fields of application include entertainment, education and even manufacturing.
Robots can also be used in some of these fields. However, the simple fact that androids closely resemble a human being can give them the advantage in certain areas of application where a regular robot will not be best suited.
We can learn a lot of human relations, affections, emotions from their interactions with androids. They can help open countless new fields of psychological and sociological studies and can even be used for medical purposes such as helping people cope with issues of social anxiety for example.
Androids can also be developed for serving as personal assistants. Looking almost human can make many people more comfortable around an android. This can make it possible for the androids to do away with robot stereotypes.
Looking at both androids and robots from an inquisitive lens provides us with an idea of what some of the differences between robots and androids might be.
We have seen that all androids are robots. But we have also shown that all robots are not necessarily androids and that certain key aspects spell the difference between them.
Maybe androids are more superior than robots, some may even argue they are all the same.
But the fact remains that these are two entities that show some slight differences, despite being almost similar in some ways.
Technological advancements have driven development in robotics forward greatly. Among the results are human-like robots that can have natural conversations with people and even pass off as human at first glance.