Best Programming Languages for Robotics

Robotics being a dynamic field requires involvement of various aspects of engineering field such as programming, electronics, mechatronics, instrumentation and controlling as well as artificial intelligence (AI).

One of the important aspect of being roboticist is the art of applying your knowledge and common sense in the right way. One of the way to do this is by programming your robot efficiently and logically. There are over 1500 programming languages in the world, which is impossible to get commands on and also use of language depends lot more on kind of robot we are dealing with. However few programming language are common in almost many kind of robots.

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So here we present you top 5 programming language to kick start your robotic field. We have arranged these programming language in count down manner (from least to most important ones).

5. MATLAB

This is a high-performance language for technical computing. It integrates computation, visualization, and programming in an easy-to-use environment where problems and solutions are generally expressed in familiar mathematical notation. An error in one step can often affect the entire robot programming workflow.

Modeling and simulation can help to eliminate this implementation errors by identifying problems during prototyping instead of the production phase. This can be done easily in MATLAB which is easy to use and this language as well as its relative octave both being an open source are one of the most used programming language in this area.

Being quite popular among beginner, it is also used for:

  • Analyzing information and building control system.
  • Connect to low-cost hardware such as arduino and raspberry pi using pre-built hardware support packages.
  • Simplify design reviews by creating application and shareable codes.

4. Microsoft C#/.NET

C# is a proprietary programming language provided by Microsoft. It is ranked fourth here just because it is used largely in Microsoft robotics developer studio. Examples include Netduino, FEZ Rhino and others. It provides aspiring programmers a solid foundation based on which they can branch out to different fields.

C#/.NET is generally used in port and socket level programming. This language is easy to learn and operate because it automatically handles memory management(garbage collection scheme); however, learning c/c++ first might help in long run and will enhance your skill in a wider range. Logically this language might be used to implement neural network systems (and also in manufacturing industries) which can be done better in JAVA as its libraries are far better developed.

So this language use is not much in important fields of robotics and I would recommend you to use traditional robotics languages like C++/python, which is a good combination to know.

3. JAVA

Like the C# and MATLAB, java is an interpretive language, which mean it does not compile into machine code.

  • Rather, the Java Virtual Machine interprets the instructions during runtime of the code.
  • It is fast, reliable and secure.
  • To ensure robots to perform human-like tasks, JAVA offers JAVA Speech API and JAVA Media framework which are used to receive and process visual images.

The theory for using Java is that you can use the same code on many different machines, all thanks goes to Java Virtual Machine. In practice, this doesn’t always work out and can sometimes cause code to run slowly. However, Java is quite popular in some important parts of robotics, so you might need it.

2. Python

Python was developed with a mindset that code should be made easy as simplicity is better than complexity.

  • Robot Operating System (ROS) is compatible with Python, which is probably a big reason for its popularity in the field of robotics.
  • When you are required to implement some basic functionality, there are a huge number of free libraries for it, which means you do not have to ‘reinvent the wheel’.
  • This language is used generally for task that don’t need to be run at high frequencies, as its mostly easy to program fairly complex things in fewer lines of python than in lower-language like c++.
  • In this language one can quickly write, use and reuse code however program can get messy for big projects

Also things get complicated sometimes as it is hard to spot errors due to the fact that it is an interpreted language.

1. C & C++ Language

Finally, this one is like a blessing. Reaching top list of programming in robotics, most of the people can’t deny the fact that c and c++ are a good starting point for new roboticists. Initially this might seem tedious but in long run you have it as gems.
Wanna know the reason?

  • Because a lot of hardware libraries use this as there language, this is definitely beneficial over other programming languages.
  • The C++ language has the advantage that it can call the OS API directly and doesn’t need any wrappers. This means that you can use platform-specific libraries that are extremely fast to use.
  • If the robot which you are dealing with, is severely limited in memory then standard c is preferable to save every byte possible, else go with c++ as it’s easier to work with.
  • Some of the language are easier to learn then c/c++, however as robotics is very dependent on real time performance (require code to run many thousands of times a second), C and C++ are probably the closest thing that we roboticists have to as “a standard language”.

Conclusion

Since programming a robot has never been so easy, if you’re serious about accomplishing something in robotics, learn Python, C++, or MatLab (or all three). If you just want something fun to do in your favorite language, then go for it!

Robotics programming stretches from the lowest level (embedded motor and sensor control) all the way up to high-level Artificial Intelligence. C++ is one of the few languages which excels at all of these.

  • Python is more recommended if you’re just starting with robotics & programming.
  • MATLAB is best for data analysis.
  • C# is good for performance and quick results. C++ and C is also good in performance.

Please let us know in comments, which language do you use.

Ayusha Singh

Ayusha has been put on board to help out with the creative quality content of latest programming trends and programming history related stuff.

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