Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: A Guide for Parents

  • The Artificial Intelligence is the software that talks to the human, understands his/her voice, understands what he/she asking for, knows where the kitchen is, knows where it currently is, and maps a route from its current location to the kitchen and the cup.
  • The Robotics is the software that programs the robot wheels/legs to move in steps to the kitchen and to the cup location (following the map computed by the Artificial Intelligence), moves the wheels left and right as it needs to, lifts the arm and gets the cup.
  • You can build a personal digital assistant like Alexa who can answer questions and play music for you.
  • You can detect objects in images. Self driving cars use this to help navigate.
  • You can detect fraud. Financial companies use this to detect whether a credit card has been stolen.
  • You can build a robot that can move around in a room and change direction when it hits a wall or a piece of furniture.
  • You can assemble products in a construction factory.
  • You can send robots to a war zone to perform tasks that are unsafe for a human.
  • Artificial Intelligence competitions often involve using AI to solve a problem. For example, some competitions ask kids and families to solve a community problem by building an app that uses AI.
  • For middle school and high school kids, research competitions in tech and science, biotech and other areas, frequently use AI. For example — student research competitions use AI to diagnose medical conditions, evaluate safety information for cities, etc.
  • AI algorithm focused competitions like Kaggle enable learners to showcase their skill at building, programming and tuning AI algorithms for best performance.
  • Robotics competitions often involve competitions between the robots themselves, where the physical design of the robot becomes important.
  • Some competitions ask students to design robots to perform specific tasks — such as navigate a complex landscape like a maze. Some robotics competitions are designed by the robot manufacturer and are focused on specific hardware.
  • Other competitions may focus on robot design for specialized environments — such as extreme hardiness (such as areas of challenging weather conditions, water, etc.) or for extreme power efficiency.
  • Both AI and Robotics can be done with minimal programming but both get better if you can do some programming, and get even better if you are good at programming. You can understand AI better when you learn more math, and you can understand Robotics better if you learn more physics, but both have concepts beyond what is covered in basic math or basic physics.
  • Focusing on AI will help students improve their math, their programming and application development, and also enable them to solve a wide range of problems in areas from medicine to law. Robotics helps them improve their math and physics knowledge and build robots to do different automation tasks.
  • Both AI and Robotics have real world applications. For example — in a car scenario, the production line that builds the physical car is Robotics. The software inside the car that makes it self driving is Artificial Intelligence.



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Nisha Talagala

Nisha Talagala


I am a software engineer by training and an expert in artificial intelligence. I am also a mom! I teach coding and tech to kids from grades 4-12.