Proposal: Robotics

We already have Electronics and Robotics

  • Note: E&R is now just "Electronics". The E&R site links back to this question as support for this decision. – laher Apr 19 '11 at 14:00

Personally, I dislike that the electronics site also has "robots" in its name.

While the two are related due to the fact that robotics more often than not requires electronics, and while some robotic activity is supported on electronics, it's quite obvious that the community thriving there are only using robotics as an extension of their electronics work.

This site would be discussing robotics first and foremost, and would attract a much different community than electronics and robotics.

I elaborate a little more in this discussion:

Please support this proposal as a means to split robotics from the Electronics site

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  • Robotics today is almost to where the original Apple was in the 1970's. There needs to be a place for hobbyist to go. This group isn't going to be it so it should stay in the Electronic name too. – user36009 Apr 19 '11 at 2:06
  • @AdamDavis, well, I wish a site had formed from this. I keep closing pure robotics questions and people are frustrated they have nowhere to go. I am not sure removing robotics was a god choice, but life will continue. – Kortuk May 10 '11 at 0:09
  • @Kortuk I wouldn't have closed the questions, since they have no place to go. I'd suggest that they be allowed and migrated when the robotics site starts up. If it doesn't start up, it's ok to have robotics questions on the electronics site long term, even though we've changed the name. – Adam Davis May 10 '11 at 0:41
  • @AdamDavis, they are already moved and the site has been changed. The way the site was going robotics experts were not joining up, as was noted. I think that unless the robotics community here had decided to come have a serious go at it we were stagnant. This community does not really have the number needed to build up a full site either. For now I will continue closing the questions, as I have made the point before. Consumer electronics questions do not have a home either, but we cannot keep them for that reason alone. We will end up building up hundreds of questions. – Kortuk May 10 '11 at 0:49
  • @Kortuk "For now I will continue closing the questions" That's too bad. – Adam Davis May 18 '11 at 6:40
  • @Adam, The site has had a name change and we agreed to stop housing robotics. Honestly, without the professionals in robotics on the site most people ask questions that are just simply, "Tell me how to do this." More often, "Tell me how to use this software suite." – Kortuk May 18 '11 at 7:16
  • @Kortuk I do not see things as so bleakly black and white. It's going to take time for the robotics site to gain enough followers, commitments, and launch. That's fine. The decision to redefine electronics needed to happen early enough that robotics could be defined as not a duplicate. That is also fine. There now remains a gap of time in between the two. I suggest one way to fill the gap, and you disagree, despite saying that you wish there was a place for them, and that you aren't sure the change was right. Guess what? There's a place for them right here, and they can be migrated. – Adam Davis May 18 '11 at 9:46
  • Blindly adhering to the strictest interpretation of "electronics" will only push people away. It's appropriate for sites like SO that get thousands of questions a day, but for a low volume site that's still starting out it may be more appropriate to pull back on the moderating and let things play out a little bit, especially in areas where there's obvious cross over, and a good chance that experts and hobbyists we attract now will be more than happy to settle in a new place once it's opened for them. – Adam Davis May 18 '11 at 9:48
  • Looking over the recently closed questions, though, I'm not sure that it matters as a practical issue. And, of course, if I really wanted to have a hand in moving the site in the direction I think is best, I should spend more time on it. Anyway, something to consider when you are deciding whether to close a question or not. In the early stages it pays to be more inclusive, and then become more strict as the site gains in popularity. – Adam Davis May 18 '11 at 9:50
  • @AdamDavis, we are relatively laid back, if you look at our closed questions, which it seems you have, we really have very few closed and only maybe 1 that was a decent robotics question in the last 2-3 months but could not have been more outside of electronics. We mostly just close shopping and very very poorly written questions that there is no way to even guess what is being asked. – Kortuk May 18 '11 at 10:20

Based on the feedback here and on the site formerly known as "Electronics and Robotics" regarding robotics being out of scope for that site and deserving of its own site, that site has been renamed to "Electronics".


Sorry to say that having a single venue for both Electronics and Robotics really denotes a misunderstanding of what robotics is all about. Of course, robotics involves a lot of electronics development, and electronics is the basis for most robot hardware development. But the most challenging part (and the most active research thrust) is really about control, distributed control, artificial intelligence, vision, modeling, etc. We need a forum dedicated to that.

  • @Greg, I have friends whom do all of what you just listed, they are electrical engineers and have a detailed understanding of electronics. They often are designing the electronics and building up that system. I am sorry that you feel that it is a misunderstanding, maybe it is just the school I went to, but Electronics and robotics are hand in hand for me. It is definitely its own discipline in EE. – Kortuk May 18 '11 at 7:18

In research-level robotics, problem areas like planning and computer vision are livelier than hardware areas.

I think that an expert-friendly research-level AI proposal would make a better home for this. Of course we don't have that.


Hi Robert,

The robotics proposal would be more of scientific nature but on Electronics and Robotics, I could only see questions like how to select a microcontroller, etc. This could be more concerned with research oriented stuff. I have just started sending it out to my other researcher friends out there. Just wait and let's see if it gets votes. Thanks..

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    @Robert: The electronics & robotics site says this:This is a collaboratively edited question and answer site for electronics and robotics hardware hacking enthusiasts.. What i propose is for the target group consisting of scientists, roboticists and graduate students. This has more to do with research." – hAcKnRoCk Mar 4 '11 at 16:21

We've had this discussion before here, here, and here. It's also been discussed extensively on a few Area51 proposals and SE1.0 sites that have gone missing, but you'll have to trust me on that :) Perhaps someone can pull the database for the deleted Robotics proposals?

Robotics covers areas of mechanical engineering, AI, and a number of other topics which are poorly represented on the E&R site. We've allowed Lego NXT robotics to join the community, but there haven't been a lot of questions on that topic recently.

E&R has turned out to be a site about embedded systems. We have no robotics community, in spite of the three (now 4) proposals for a robotics community. We welcome robotics (it's in our name, for crying out loud!) but our current core users are embedded systems guys. It seems that we're a robotics site in name only. (But not in the URL! How convenient!)

BTW, I've posted a question about this proposal on the E&R meta here.

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    "It seems that we're a robotics site in name only" -- deserves emphatic emphasis. – Nick T Mar 9 '11 at 3:32

I work with a lot of pneumatic actuators and control them using electronics. If I had a question about pneumatics, without asking for help on the electronics side, would that not be an acceptable E&R question?

The purpose behind posting a question as an "answer" to this "question" is to illustrate that other fields (fluid dynamics, etc.) are part of robotics and probably why some people would like to separate it from E&R. However, I do not support the separation, and view this as something that is closely enough related that people should use the tags and filter as they deem appropriate.

I feel that if enough robotics-only questions appear later in the life of the E&R site, then separation should be considered. Why separate them now, when it is at such an early stage?

  • @JYelton - Answering your question about E&R acceptability: Sure, pneumatics is acceptable according to the FAQ. However, I'm not sure we have a lot of users of or experts on pneumatics. – Kevin Vermeer Mar 7 '11 at 22:22
  • Why separate? Because a user interested in pneumatics would have as hard a time separating out all the electronics stuff. I've tried to get rid of everything except what I want to read about on Stack Overflow - There are more than 100 tags in my ignores list, ranging from C# to Javascript. I hide questions which contain those tags, but it's still hard for me to use the site. This opinion runs contrary to the Stack Exchange 'merging season' plan. – Kevin Vermeer Mar 7 '11 at 22:27
  • @reemrevnivek: I understand the dilemma, as a user of SO, I too find that sometimes the questions that are out of my interest boundaries can become somewhat overwhelming. I just want to ensure the success of the site in its infancy, but not having too small a user base. – JYelton Mar 8 '11 at 0:04
  • Having worked for two industrial automation companies I agree that this is not the right place for such a topic. Robotics can span a few categories. Google and Honda are making consumer level robots that are in the development stages however most of the main line robotics, ie: Faunc, Adept, and Epson are found within the industrial sector and should be grouped as such. I too have worked on pneumatic actuation, lasers and vision systems on the wiring end. It takes a PE or an EE to program an industrial robot. Googles robots that can be controlled via android should also have their own area. – quotaholic Oct 9 '11 at 14:30

Robotics is fundamentally 3 fields of knowledge. Electronics, Software and Mechanics. I don’t mean any disrespect anybody BUT grouping robotics under electronics is totality ignorant on the nature of what makes a robot.

I know many ppl that are experts in one of these fields, some that are expert in 2 and very few that are expert in all 3. Having a community of ppl that respect the others expertise will greatly advance the filed. If the servo expert and the circuit designer can get together whit the AI…. Now you’re in business.

  • You could also add chemical eng. and fluid dynamics eng. to that mix (for hydraulics and hazardous environments). – user34375 Sep 19 '11 at 14:40

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