How do robots communicate with each other?

robotics training

Robot communication involves the exchange of information either between robots or between robots and humans. It covers various methods, including natural language processing, speech recognition and synthesis, non-verbal cues, sensor data utilization, and network-based interactions.

The importance of robot communication stems from various reasons. Firstly, robots require seamless communication to coordinate movements and prevent collisions. This becomes especially crucial when multiple robots collaborate on tasks like assembling products or navigating an environment.

Additionally, robots must share information to make informed decisions. This information encompasses details about their surroundings, current status, and objectives. Equally important is their ability to interact with humans—receiving instructions, providing feedback, and fostering trust, particularly in settings where robots coexist with humans, such as manufacturing facilities or households.

Safety is a paramount aspect reliant on effective robot communication. Allowing robots to communicate among themselves and with humans helps prevent accidents and injuries. Moreover, efficient communication among robots enhances their overall productivity. They can collaborate more efficiently by distributing tasks, avoiding redundant efforts, and making better collective decisions.

Robots communicate with each other in a variety of ways, including:

1. Wired communication

This is the most traditional method of robot communication, and it involves connecting robots with physical cables. Wired communication is reliable and robust, but it can be limiting, as robots can only communicate with each other if they are physically connected.

Physical cables, such as Ethernet cables, RS-232 cables, and CAN bus cables, connect robots directly to each other. These cables provide a reliable and robust connection for data transmission. Sensors, such as proximity and touch sensors, can detect the presence or contact of other robots, enabling them to communicate and coordinate their actions.


  • Reliable and robust data transmission
  • Secure connection
  • Suitable for long-range communication


  • Limited range due to physical cables
  • Requires physical connections between robots
  • Less flexible compared to wireless methods

2. Wireless communication

This method of communication is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows robots to communicate with each other without the need for physical cables. Wireless communication can be used over various frequencies, including radio waves, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Radio waves are used for long-range communication between robots, especially in outdoor environments where wired communication is impractical. Wi-Fi networks allow robots to communicate wirelessly over short distances, enabling them to share information and collaborate within a confined area. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology suitable for communication between nearby robots, such as robots working on the same assembly line.


  • Flexibility and scalability
  • Enables communication without physical connections
  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments


  • Susceptible to interference from obstacles or electromagnetic waves
  • Potential security risks if not properly implemented
  • It may require higher power consumption compared to wired methods

3. Infrared communication

This method of communication uses infrared light to transmit data between robots. Infrared communication is a good choice for short-range communication, as it is not affected by obstacles such as walls. Infrared LEDs emit infrared light that can be used to transmit data between robots. This method is handy for indoor environments with unreliable radio waves. Infrared detectors receive infrared light and convert it into electrical signals, allowing robots to decode the transmitted data.


  • Short-range, low-power communication
  • Not affected by obstacles like walls or furniture
  • Suitable for indoor environments with minimal interference


  • Limited range compared to other methods
  • Not suitable for outdoor use due to sensitivity to sunlight
  • Requires precise alignment of infrared emitters and detectors

4. Ultrasonic communication

This method of communication uses sound waves to transmit data between robots. Ultrasonic communication is a good choice for medium-range communication, as it is not affected by obstacles such as walls.

Ultrasonic transmitters generate ultrasonic sound waves that carry data. These sound waves can travel through the air and are not affected by obstacles like walls. Ultrasonic receivers detect and convert ultrasonic sound waves into electrical signals, enabling robots to extract the transmitted data.


  • Medium-range communication
  • Not affected by obstacles like walls or furniture
  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments


  • Lower bandwidth compared to other methods
  • Susceptible to interference from ultrasonic sources like machinery or industrial equipment
  • Requires specialized ultrasonic transmitters and receivers

5. Visible light communication (VLC)

This method of communication uses visible light to transmit data between robots. VLC is a relatively new technology, but it has the potential to be very efficient and secure. Visible light LEDs emit visible light that can be modulated to encode data. This method is still in its early stages of development but has the potential for high-speed communication. Visible light detectors receive visible light and convert it into electrical signals, allowing robots to decode the transmitted data.


  • High-speed data transmission
  • Potential for indoor use without interfering with radio waves
  • Utilizes existing infrastructure of light fixtures


  • Emerging technology with limited availability
  • Requires specialized LEDs and detectors for data transmission and reception
  • Susceptible to interference from ambient light sources

In addition to these physical communication methods, robots can communicate with each other using software protocols. These protocols allow robots to exchange data and coordinate their actions. Some common software protocols for robot communication include:

  • Robot Operating System (ROS): ROS is a popular open-source software platform for robot development. It includes various tools and libraries for robot communication, including the Raspy package.
  • Publish-subscribe (pub-sub): A messaging pattern allows robots to send and receive messages. Robots can subscribe to specific topics, and they will receive messages that are published on those topics.
  • Client-server: Client-server is a network architecture in which robots can act as clients and servers. Clients can request information from servers, and servers can provide information to clients.

Robot communication is essential to robotics, allowing robots to work together to achieve common goals. As robots become more sophisticated, the need for effective robot communication will only grow.