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Graphics tips: Designing a believable robot

Robots and intelligent machines are favourite ideas and concepts for fantasy and science fiction rendering and artworks. In order to create, robot concepts that look believable, we may need to know the structure and anatomy of one.


A robot is structured very much like a living organism. There are parts of a robot that have a parallel to the parts of a sentient being. The following are the anatomy of a typical robot.
1. The frame. The skeletal structure of a robot. It can be made of aluminium, steel, plastic, carbon composite and even titanium.
2. Actuator. This is the equivalent of muscles of the robot. Actuator encompass the following systems: motor/gears, pneumatic cylinders, shape memory alloy, hydraulics.
3. Outer casing. This part corresponds to the skin of the robot.
4. Drive train. This part corresponds the the limbs. This can be in the form of wheels, legs or tracks.
5. Controller. This part corresponds to the brain and central nervous system. The most common form is the micro controller. The micro controller is usually a computer that is embedded as a chip It usually consist of a CPU, RAM and Erasable memory space.
6. Sensors. This part corresponds to the sensory organs of the robot. They interact with the external environment. Typical sensors includes light sensors, sound sensosr and pressure sensors.
7. Manipulator. This part corresponds to the fingers and hands. This is an optional component.
8. Communication system. This corresponds to the speech. This is another optional aspect of a robot.
9. Power system. The part that powers the robot. This include batteries. Common batteries include alkaline, nickel, lithium ion and battery packs. Some robots also employ solar cells and other power sources.