What is degrees of freedom? - Definition from WhatIs.com


degrees of freedom

Part of the Robotics glossary:

Degrees of freedom, in a mechanics context, are specific, defined modes in which a mechanical device or system can move. The number of degrees of freedom is equal to the total number of independent displacements or aspects of motion. A machine may operate in two or three dimensions but have more than three degrees of freedom. The term is widely used to define the motion capabilities of robots.

Consider a robot arm built to work like a human arm. Shoulder motion can take place as pitch (up and down) or yaw (left and right). Elbow motion can occur only as pitch. Wrist motion can occur as pitch or yaw. Rotation (roll) may also be possible for wrist and shoulder.

Such a robot arm has five to seven degrees of freedom. If a complex robot has two arms, the total number of degrees of freedom is doubled. In an android, additional degrees of freedom exist in the end effectors, the legs and the head.

Fully functional androids and multi-legged mobile robots can have more than 20 degrees of freedom. An example is Project Nao, an intelligent android designed for the consumer market. Nao, which looks superficially like a large space-age doll, has 25 degrees of freedom.


Learn More About IT:
> Wikipedia has more information about degrees of freedom.

This was last updated in July 2009
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms


  • robotics

    - Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. (WhatIs.com)

  • Turing test

    - In artificial intelligence (AI), the Turing Test is a method for determining whether or not a computer is capable of thinking like a human. (WhatIs.com)

  • synthetic intelligence (SI)

    - Synthetic intelligence (SI) recognizes that although the capacity for software to reason may be manufactured, it is nonetheless real intelligence and not just an imitation of how human beings acqui... (WhatIs.com)


  • Robotics

    - Terms related to robotics, including definitions about consumer or manufacturing robots and words and phrases about stepper motor systems, XY positioning tables, automation and artificial intellig...

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment



    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.