Robot Terminology

Do you know a cyborg from a cobot? And what is special about a Droid? We have gathered some of the most common terms and definitions for robots below so you always appear to be an expert!


A robot is a machine built to carry out a complex task (or set of tasks) by physically moving and interacting with the world around it. Robots can usually be programmed by a user.

The word “Robot” come from the Czech word “robota” meaning “slavery or forced labour”. It was first used by Czech writer, Karel Čapek, in his 1921 science-fiction play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots).


An android is a robot or artificial being made to resemble a human, most often a male.

The word “android” comes from the Greek word ἀνδρ- andr-, meaning “man” and the suffix “oid”, meaning “having the form or likeness of”. Interestingly it existed long before the word “robot” and was first used to describe mechanical chess players!


A droid is a robot or with a degree of artificial intelligence which may or may not look human (think R2-D2 from Star Wars).

In fact Lucasfilm, the film company that created Star Wars, registered the word “Droid” as a trademark in 1977. PIXAR had to ask Lucasfilms permission to use the term “Omnidroid” in The Incredibles!


A gynoid is a robot or artificial being made to resemble a woman.


Cyborg is short for “cybernetic organism” and refers to an organism (such as a human) with restored or enhanced abilities due to an artificial component or technology.

This means anyone with a pacemaker or cochlear implants, or even someone using Google Glass, could be called a Cyborg…


Cobots are “collaborative robots” designed to work with humans and physically interact with them in shared workspaces. It is these robots that people worry will take away jobs human currently do!


Drones, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are unmanned aircraft. They are basically flying robots.

Drones take their name from the remotely flown aircraft used for target practice with battleship’s guns!