Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image of robotics source Freepik
Robots are fully reliant on the power of electricity and electronics. Everything about robotics, including the power function, command, and control runs on electricity. And how are all the activities of the robotics coordinated? Electronic components are responsible for shunting the electric power and signals that run the field of robotics. These components include resistors, transistors, capacitors, logic gates, op-amps, and IC chips among others. A single robot may have millions if not billions of these components.
The focus of this article is the transistors. What are they and what do they specifically do in the field of robotics?
Overview of transistors in robotics
Transistors are discrete semiconductor electronic components that have a wide range of applications in the modern electronics. They are found in simple electronic devices such as radios as well as complex devices such as robots.
In most applications, transistors act as variable switches whereby they control the flow of electric current in circuits. They are designed to allow the electric current to get in through one terminal and flow out through another terminal.
There are two distinct properties that make transistors suitable for robotics. We have already mentioned the first property which is the ability to switch electric current on and off. They allow current to pass through the circuit and at the same time block it when necessary. The second key property of transistors is the ability to amplify electric signals. They accept small input signals into the circuit and amplify it to higher levels.
A typical transistor for robotics comprises three terminals. Two terminals are designed to provide power and a path for the signal to flow through. The third terminal serves as a controller. It controls the flow of signals in the transistor ensuring that the transistor operates within defined baselines.
Transistors have different properties that make them suitable for use in the field of robotics. There are two major classes of transistors. These are the bipolar junction transistors (BJT) and field effect transistors (FETs).
The main difference between the two is in the way that they control and regulate electric signals. The control signal in the BJT is quite significant to implement major actions and moves by the transistor. On the other hand, FETs have minimal control signals. Additionally, BJTs are always considered current-controlled transistors while FETs are considered voltage-controlled transistors.
Key roles of transistors in robotics
Here are some of the major functions of transistors in robotic systems:
Switching is among the top two key functions of transistors in electric circuits. They determine the state of electric circuits and devices in general. As switches, transistors control the flow of electric current to different components that make up robotic systems. The fast-switching speed is the main reason why transistors are used as switches in robots.
How is switching relevant in the field of robotics? Think of how parts of a robot are activated and deactivated. These processes depend on the switching actions to determine when the signals should be allowed or blocked. Transistors come in handy due to the speed at which they activate and deactivate parts of robotic systems.
This is another primary role of transistors in robotics. They amplify the input signals so that they can be more suitable for the execution of different functionalities in a robotic system. A typical robot comprises of different parts and components. Each component has a specific current requirement in some components is higher than in others. This is where the importance of transistors comes in.
Power transistors are incorporated in circuits to ensure that the output signals are of higher values than the input signal. This is important when part of a robotic system needs high-frequency signals to execute some roles. Let’s say a robot is in idle mode and you want it to perform a crucial task such as lifting a load. The incoming signals will have to be amplified.
Data storage and memory
Like most electronic devices, robots are integrated with memory or storage units. The main function of these units is to store data. Transistors are among the electronic components that make up both the RAM and ROM units. Different types of data are used in the robotics. The most important data type is the instructions that are needed for controlling activities of a robot.
For communication and network
Robotic systems have network features that facilitate the exchange of data with other devices. Like in most electronic devices, transistors are used in the operation of most network modules. They support the transmission of data through the wired and wireless network modules. This is why robots can be connected to WIFI and Bluetooth networks. Additionally, transistors are suitable for the transfer of both analog and digital data types.
Power regulation in robotics
Both the switching and amplification properties of transistors make them ideal to work as power regulators in robotics. They can control the flow of voltage and current in different circuits. This is possible due to the fact that transistors come with defined power requirements. By acting as power regulators, transistors ensure that each component gets the required amount of charge. The regulation also protects robotic devices from the dangers of overcurrent.
Choosing transistors for the robotics
Are you building a robotics system? At this point, it is clear that transistors play an important role in every aspect of the robotics. However, the success of the project will depend on the transistors that you use. So, what should I look out for when buying transistors for robotics?
The first factor to consider is the transistor type. This will depend on the specific circuit that makes up a robotic system. A robotic unit may comprise of different types of transistors.
Once you are sure of the type, you can now pay attention to the technical specifications of the transistors for robotics. These parameters include breakdown voltage, collector current, transition frequency, power dissipation, and package type among others.
Once you are sure of all the transistor specifications, the next step is choosing a reliable transistor supplier in China. While doing so, keep in mind that where you buy transistors for robotics will determine their quality and output.
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