Since the first industrial robot was designed by George Devol in 1954, the use of robotics has led to a number of major energy and economic advancements. It helps companies remain competitive through greater efficiencies and is widely used in industries today ranging from manufacturing and agriculture to national defense and security.

So what’s the big deal about robots?

With the rise of robotics in both entertainment and the general marketplace, we decided to set the record straight on some common robot myths.

Five common robot myths

Myth: Robots are a modern invention

Robots date back to 1495 when Leonardo da Vinci drew up plans for an armored humanoid machine. His vision was later created by NASA Engineer Mark Rosheim to help colonize Mars. Additionally, Ford introduced one of the first functioning robots in 1961 to make car parts on its legendary assembly line.

Myth: Only professionals can build robots

You don’t need a mechanical engineering degree to build a robot. In fact, students of all ages at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Robotics Academy have designed, created, and programed their own robots.

With the right resources and tools, anyone can build a basic robot.

Myth: Robotic technology is not yet mainstream

More than a million robots are used all over the world today. Half of them can be found in a diverse range of environments including hospitals, labs, and energy plants.

Myth: All robots are expensive

Affordable home robots are available to the everyday consumer. Simpler robotic technology can be found in children’s toys, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, alarm clocks, and smart security cameras, just to name a few.

Myth: Robots are intended to eliminate jobs


An independent study found that the robot industry generates approximately 170,000 to 190,000 jobs worldwide each year. They also estimate up to 2 million additional jobs will be created between 2017 and 2020.

A Future in Robotics

In addition to its industrial impact, robotics technology is also opening doors for many students majoring in mechanical engineering, computer science, bioengineering, and even psychology. DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) provides opportunities for students to get actively involved through its FIRST Robotics Internship Program and by supporting the FIRST Robotics Competition.

The internship program continues the development of robotics to increase labor demand in the industry. It’s designed for current college students and recent graduates and provides practical, hands-on training from industry mentors using the state-of-the-art resources of the national labs.

Additionally, the FIRST Robotics Competition challenges, excites, and educates high school students through a battle of robotics technology. Students design and build industrial-sized robots that compete against rival robots in difficult field games over a six week period. It ends with world-renowned championship events – hosting approximately 946 teams from more than 26 countries.

Relive some of our favorite moments from past competitions in the slideshow below and good luck to all the teams competing in this month’s competition!