A teach box is a device that registers and memorizes mechanical motions or processes for later recall and execution by an electronic or computer system. The term especially applies to programmable robots.
Robot programming can be divided into levels, starting with the least complex and progressing to the equivalent of human intelligence. The table shows a four-level scheme.
|2||Sequences of motions or operations|
|1||Single motions or operations|
An example of a level-1 teach box is a remote-control for the doors of a car. When the wireless receiver gets the signal from the remote unit, it locks or unlocks the doors. Another example of a level-1 teach box is the remote box that controls a hi-fi sound system or videocassette recorder (VCR).
An example of a level-2 teach box is the microcomputer that controls a telephone answering machine. When a call comes in, the sequence of operations is recalled from memory. The machine answers the phone, makes an announcement, takes the message, and resets for the next incoming call.
Level-3 teach boxes are used in aerospace, miliatary, and industrial applications. Level 3, just below human-equivalent artificial intelligence ( AI ), is called task-level programming. Programs at level 3 can instruct a robot to execute complete operations, such as shoveling the snow from a driveway or flying an aircraft on a reconnaissance mission.
The intended movements of a robot are entered into memory by pressing buttons or guiding a joystick or other three-dimensional control device. The robot's path, variations in speed, rotations, and gripping/grasping movements are all programmed. Then, when the memory is recalled, the robot reproduces these movements in the exact sequence, and to the exact extent and speed in all dimensions.