Robotics involves designing and creating programmable devices also known as robots. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) expects the robotics industry to grow to $260 billion by 2030. Although the demand for technicians in robotics has decreased, there were 13,400 electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians in the US in 2020.
With the number of programming languages available, it can be challenging for future robotics engineers to identify the best programming languages for robotics. For this reason, we’ve put together an article featuring the best programming languages to learn for robotics and related careers.
What Is Robotics?
Robotics is a branch of technology that focuses on developing and constructing robots. A robot is a programmable device that performs specialized functions and everyday tasks that are typically carried out by humans. It’s an interdisciplinary field that blends science, engineering, and technology.
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Programmable machines are designed to help humans or mimic their actions. Robotic engineering is becoming increasingly important in the manufacturing industry and in many industrial applications. Soon, self-driving cars, humanoid robots, and other advanced robots may be commonplace.
What Are Programming Languages?
What Programming Languages Do Robotics Engineers Use?
Robotics engineers use program languages such as Python, C, C++, and Java. However, there are other important tools and libraries such as MATLAB and Robot Operating System (ROS) that are essential in robotics engineering.
Best Programming Languages to Learn for Robotics
Which Programming Language Is Best for Robotics?
Python is a high-level, object oriented programming language. According to TIOBE’s index, Python is the most popular programming language. It is simple to use and features built-in data structures that make it ideal for application development. However, it is this language’s increased productivity that makes it stand out.
Many developers in robotics prefer using Python for a number of reasons. For instance, this language interfaces with other languages such as C and C++. It is also cross-platform and works just well on Windows, Linux, and macOS. Python is a core language of the Robot Operating System, meaning that all relevant libraries and tools are easily accessible via Python.
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MATLAB is a high-performance proprietary programming language used in technical computing. Its typical uses include mathematics and computation, modeling, simulation, prototyping, data analysis, application development, and algorithm development. MATLAB is also an essential language in robotics.
Robotics engineers use this language for analyzing data and developing control systems. It is extensively used in data processing and research. You’ll need to learn MATLAB if you want to analyze data and implement control systems.
If you are new to coding and are wondering which language to learn first, consider C. C is a basic language that’s widely considered to be the earliest programming language. The basic knowledge you acquire in C will help you develop programming skills that will come in handy when learning and working with other languages.
In the field of robotics, C++ is used in image processing, control loops, and low-level interface hardware. Many hardware libraries used in robotics employ one of these languages. Such libraries enable real-time performance and interaction with low-level electronics. Besides, they are mature programming languages.
Java is a common programming language used for mobile applications, database connection, web applications, desktop applications, games, and more. For robots to perform human-like tasks, functions must be included in the programming languages. Java language offers a wide array of APIs designed to match needs in the robotics field.
Java is one of the most popular languages in robotics because it has all the high-level features needed. You can create highly efficient Java algorithms for machine learning, language processing, and neural algorithms. Also, Java allows many developers to run the same code on different machines.
Which Programming Language Should I Learn First?
The first programming language you learn should be C or C++. C++ is a successor to the C language. They are both used for embedded development and real-time high-level programming in the robotics field. These languages play a massive role in robotics perception, motion, control, and decision-making algorithms.
Learning C makes learning other high-level languages such as Python and C++ easier. You’ll learn how to implement everything manually if you learn C first. As you learn C, your logic skills will significantly improve, especially if you implement everything manually.
Is it Possible to Choose the ‘Wrong’ Programming Language?
It is possible to choose the wrong programming language for a project. For instance, many developers choose Python for all their projects. Doing this deviates from best practices as there are many different types of projects. For instance, game developers wouldn’t recommend Python for high-speed video games or multi-threaded applications.
How to Learn Robotics
Learning robotics is a fairly straightforward process. If you’re new to the computer science field, consider starting your journey by learning programming languages. A background in coding, physics, and linear algebra will help you learn faster.
Learn and Master Programming Languages
Coding is a fundamental aspect of robotics. Programming languages such as Java and C++ are essential. You’ll need to learn how to use variables and certain functions and create conditional statements, among other basic coding skills. We recommend attending a coding bootcamp to learn some of the programming languages used in robotics.
More About Electronics
Electronics are essential in robotics. Robots are mechatronic systems consisting of hardware, electrical components, and sensors. You can learn more about electronics by experimenting with Arduino boards and Raspberry Pi.
Build and Program a Robot
Applying theoretical knowledge in projects is one of the best ways to learn programming and robotics. Search for guides to hands-on robotics projects—you can buy parts and components online. Consider starting with simple projects and working your way to more complex projects. You can also look into local robotics clubs for community support.
How to Learn Robotics: Top Resources
- Introduction to Robotics. This is a masterclass led by Professor Peter Corke. It is ideal for beginners with no knowledge of robotics.
- Electrical4U. Electrical4U is a great learning resource that features hundreds of learning articles on electronics-related topics.
- Introduction to Robotics (Stanford Engineering Everywhere). This free course from Stanford University introduces students to robotics. Topics covered include motion planning, control, programming, and design.
- Fun with Beginner LEGO MindStorms EV3 Robotics. This is a free Udemy course taken by over 1,000 students. It is ideal for beginners and can help you build a programmable robot.
- Robotics, Learn by Building. This is a paid Udemy course that will help you develop and build analog electronic circuits.
Ready to Break into Tech?
Robotics is an excellent career field to pursue. Having knowledge of mathematics or a science background certainly helps but is not a requirement. Your journey to learning robotics starts with understanding programming languages.
We recommend attending coding bootcamp to learn programming languages. Not only are they cheaper than universities, but they take a significantly shorter period of time to complete. Are you ready to break into tech? Join a coding bootcamp today to start your journey in robotics.
Best Programming Languages for Robotics FAQ
C++ is better for low-level programming functions, while Python is ideal for high-level code. However, both languages are popular in robotics and have varied functions.
Yes, coding is necessary for robotics as most robots have electrical components that are programmable. It may be tempting to rely on a visual programming language, but ultimately, knowledge of programming languages such as C++ and Java is essential in this field.
The standard language for AI is Python. Python is the most-used programming language and is widely considered to be the best language for machine learning and artificial intelligence projects.
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C++ is used in robotics because it allows interaction with low-level hardware while offering real-time performance. C and C++ are mature programming languages.
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