Is there a taxonomy of errors that are common in robotics? Things that come to mind but I don't have names for are:

  • Getting stuck in a stable infinite loop
  • Going into an unstable feedback loop (A balancing robot overcompensating more with each correction)
  • An inability to generalize between tasks (Pick up a bowl vs pick up a glass)
  • An inability to generalize between 'similar' sensory inputs.
  • Causing damage to itself or its environment.

These would be things that make a robot look 'stupid' to a non-roboticist. If you're curious I want to have this list so I can then prepare a clear answer ready for people who don't know why these various things are hard.

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    $\begingroup$ IIRC, such make-a-list questions are considered rather broad and are generally closed as such (especially a list which seems endless on a precursory glance). If you want to ask about a specific mistake, that's fine, though :). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, list questions are discouraged on all SE sites, as they are seldom constructive and don't really fit the Q&A format that SE is trying to promote. $\endgroup$
    – ThomasH
    Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ I get the feeling you're kinda dancing around the actual question you want to ask. Regardless, this doesn't seem like something that can be well-answered at present. $\endgroup$
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 3:22

2 Answers 2


To a roboticist it might look like a stupid question, however, I think your question is valid, and even important!

Setting expectations is very important when introducing robots to the general public, this will help bridging between Hollywood-robots and real-life robots.

I think the most important difference is understanding the context. Robots (or computer) are very good with computing an answer to a mathematical question, however they are clueless about the context of the question.

for example - ask a humanoid robot to reach his right hand to touch his left ear. In most of the cases I saw - the robot tried to get to the left ear through the head... the context has to be hard coded into everything...


This is not a clear question, is more of a fishing / discussion question. As much as I'd love to sit down and discuss this for a few hours, this is unfortunately not the type of things we can concisely and objectively answer. Expectations are better diffused by specific questions. Example: "Bipedal robots: Can they walk over a pile of skulls like in Terminator 2?"


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