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Top 10 programming languages for Robotics engineers to learn

Robotics and Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as a blessing across industries as it has reduced human working hours and labour. Almost every industry, including manufacturing, production, construction, health, agriculture, and education, is using automation and hence the demand for RPA developers has skyrocketed in recent years.

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If you aspire to build a career in RPA, you can give a start by learning one or a few of the top 5 programming languages used by robotics engineers.

1. C/C++
C was created in 1969, and C++ was created in 1983, following C. C and C++ provide really strong features that make these a perfect fit for RPA development. C language can be easily moved from one machine to another. This language is frequently used in robotics because of its interaction with low-level hardware.

2. Python
Python is another powerful programming language that is used to build robots. Python is extremely simple to code, and there is no need to change the code when using it on Linux, Windows, and Macintosh, among other platforms. It also allows integration with other programming languages such as C and C++. The adaptability of robots can also be evaluated using Python rather easily than any of the other languages.

When it comes to automation, Java is one of the fundamental programming languages ruling the industry for over 2 decades. Java robots can perform human-like functions, and Java Virtual Machines can interpret commands. It is used in the development of algorithms and for machine learning.

4. .NET
. NET is associated with Microsoft, and it can be a good platform for someone interested in robotics, even when it is a little complex. .NET is primarily used to create visual applications, including a variety of robotics tools that simplify the use of other RPA programming languages like, Python,C++ and Java. The tools are available through the Microsoft Developer Function.

Robotics engineers have been using MATLAB for a long time to create algorithms that help connect and control robots. It includes a number of tools, such as the ability to create graphs using MATLAB data. Scripting and prototyping can also be done using MATLAB.

Here are the ten most popular programming languages in robotics at the moment. If your favorite language isn’t on the list, please tell everyone about it in the comments! Each language has different advantages for robotics. The way I have ordered them is roughly in order of importance from least to most valuable.

6. Pascal

Pascal was one of the first programming languages that I ever learned. However, that’s not why I’ve included it here. It is the basis for several of the industrial robot languages (see number 8 below). As a result, it’s still quite a good starting point if you are going to be programming industrial robots.

Pascal is a basic language (literally based on the language BASIC) and was designed to encourage good programming practices.

These days, Pascal is too outdated to be good for everyday use. However, it can be useful if you want to become familiar with other industrial robot languages without becoming tied to one particular robot brand.

7. Scratch

A brand new entry to this list, Scratch is used by thousands of budding roboticists around the world every year. This visual programming language is specially designed for new programmers — targeted at users aged 8 to 16 — and is often the language of choice in school technology classes and robotics clubs.

Scratch programming is achieved by dragging around blocks and connecting them together. “Under the hood” it is written in a combination of Squeak (a dialect of Smalltalk), ActionScript and Javascript.

Although you’re probably not going to write any industrial robot programs in Scratch, it’s an incredibly good and popular language for complete beginners and is paving the way for many of our future robotics engineers.

Industrial Robot Languages

Almost every robot manufacturer has developed their own proprietary robot programming language, which has long been one of the problems in industrial robotics. You can become familiar with several of them by learning Pascal. However, you are still going to have to learn a new language every time you start using a new robot brand.

ABB has its RAPID programming language. Kuka has KRL (Kuka Robot Language). Comau uses PDL2, Yaskawa uses INFORM and Kawasaki uses AS. Then, Fanuc robots use Karel, Stäubli robots use VAL3 and Universal Robots use URScript.

In recent years, more general-purpose programming options like ROS Industrial, manufacturer agnostic offline programming, and hand guiding have started to provide more standardized options for programmers. However, if you are a technician, you are still more likely to have to use the manufacturer’s language.

8. LISP and Prolog

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has really been gaining in popularity recently. This means that AI programming languages like LISP and Prolog are starting to make their way back into people’s programming toolkits.

LISP is the world’s second oldest programming language (FORTRAN is older, but only by one year). Parts of ROS (the Robot Operating System) are written in LISP, although you don’t need to know it to use ROS.

Prolog is a logic programming language and allows programmers to represent “knowledge” in a form that an AI algorithm can understand. Prolog was used as part of the programming in IBM’s Watson AI. 

It is also possible to program artificial intelligence using some of the other languages on this list and more that are not listed. However, LISP and Prolog remain at the core of some AI implementations and certainly deserve their place on this list. It’s also worth remembering that robotics and AI are not the same thing. 

9.Hardware Description Languages (HDLs)

Hardware Description Languages are basically a programming way of describing electronics. These languages will be very familiar to electronic engineers who create the low-level electronics of robots.

HDLs are commonly used to program Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). These devices allow you to develop electronic hardware without having to actually produce a silicon chip, which makes them a quicker and easier option for some development tasks.

If you don’t create prototypes of robotic electronics in your job, you may never use HDLs. Even so, it is important to know that they exist as they are quite different from other programming languages. For one thing, all operations are carried out in parallel, rather than sequentially as with processor-based languages.

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