Kinds of Robots 3 Manipulators
This group of robots contains the most accomplished machines by far. We mostly see these as industrial robots. This group is large and highly developed because it has substantial economic value.
Ken Goldberg has demonstrated with many projects the substantial opportunities for making art with this type robot.
One definition of a robot is a device that senses its environment, thinks and then acts. These robots have this capability, but probably not applied the way that first comes to mind. These robots are task oriented rather than goal oriented. The are able to repeat a previously defined task.
Usually these robots have a world view - an internal understanding of their the world around them - either predefined, like semiconductor manufacturing equipment or learned like automobile welding robots. This world view establishes, a priori, what is around the robot. Although these robots have sensors these sensors are dedicated to understanding the state of the robot itself to deliver very precise positioning with high reliability and repeatability.
A subset of this group is called automatons. You have seen these at Disneyland or Chuck E Cheese. The automatons of today use the same parts and techniques as robots, but their heritage goes back through Christmas window displays all the way to eighteenth century clockwork automatons. Things like birds, chess playing, even a minature secretary that wrote cards.
Robots lilke this are naturals for kinetic scupture as seen in the outstanding work of Alan Rath, Carl Pisatouro, and others.