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15 Types of Sensors that can be used in Robots

Previously we discussed what are sensors? Click here to read about Sensors !!

There are many different types of sensors which are used alongside other electronic devices. Each sensor can perform certain tasks such as detect light, sound, temperature, motion, and so on. This article will go through the different types of sensors which can be used.

        1. Temperature Sensor:

As the name states, this sensor measures temperature as an electrical signal. This is done by the sensor returning an electrical signal which is proportionate to the temperature which was measured. There are various temperature sensors which you can use, some of which include; thermocouples, infrared sensors, semiconductor sensors, thermometer, resistance temperature detectors, and thermistors. These different types of temperature sensors have specific uses, this means that you would choose one over the other depending on the way you plan on using it. However, all the temperature sensors mentioned above measure the change in temperature.

       2. Proximity Sensor:

This is a sensor which detects the presence of objects nearby without the need for physical contact. This is done by emitting an electromagnetic field and then the sensor looks for any interference in the signal which is returned. There are different proximity sensors which detect different targets, these include; capacitive proximity sensor and a photoelectric sensor which could be used to detect a plastic target, whereas an inductive proximity sensor will always need to have a metal target.

        3. Light Sensors:

This sensor detects the ambient light in the surrounding environment, it allows electronic devices which have a light sensor to know how bright or dark it is. Just like the sensors mentioned above, there are various light sensors which can be used, these include; photovoltaic, photodiode, and light dependent. Photovoltaic light sensors respond to the level of light by generating an electrical current, photodiode light sensors are used by devices such as camera and remote controls to detect the light levels which range from infrared to the visible light spectrum, and light-dependent light sensors are used to respond to the level of light in the surrounding area.

       4. Pressure Sensor:

This sensor is a device which measures the pressure of gases or liquids. Pressure sensors are used to control many applications which people use in everyday life. Additionally, this type of sensor can be used to measure speed, water level, and even altitude. There are various pressure sensors which include; absolute pressure sensors, gauge pressure sensors, vacuum pressure sensors, differential pressure sensors, and sealed pressure sensors.

       5. Humidity Sensor:

This sensor measures the moisture and air temperature in the surrounding environment. There are 3 types of humidity sensors, these are; capacitive, thermal, and resistive. Even though each type measures humidity, they all use different methods which means one humidity sensor type is going to be better suited for certain applications compared to the others. This means that you will need to figure out which one is best suited for your needs.

        6. Touch Sensor:

This type of sensor is triggered by the use of physical contact. People use touch sensors every day as they are used in mobile phones and many other devices. This sensor is usually used to receive input from people through physical contact. Touch sensors can receive different types of input such as swiping, pinching, and tapping. There are also various types of touch sensors which include; surface capacitive sensors, wire resistive sensors, projected capacitive sensors, and infrared sensors.

        7. Ultrasonic Sensor:

This sensor is used to measure the distance between an object and the sensor, this is done through the use of sound waves. This sensor sends out sound waves and waits for them to bounce back, this allows it to measure the amount of time that passes between the sound waves being sent out and then bouncing back. There are different types of ultrasonic sensors, some of which include; ultrasonic proximity sensors, ultrasonic through beam sensors, ultrasonic retro-reflective sensors, and Ultrasonic 2-point proximity switch.

       8. Gas Sensor:

This sensor is used to monitor the changes in air quality in the area and also detect any gases that may be present. These sensors are used in many different industries such as agriculture and manufacturing to monitor air quality and make sure any changes in air quality are dealt with as fast as possible.

      9. Infrared Sensor:

This sensor can measure various variables in the surrounding area by either emitting or be detecting infrared radiation. This sensor has many applications, some of which include; it is used in mobile phones, smartwatches, remote controls, it can be used to monitor blood flow, optical communication and the list goes on. There are different types of infrared sensors which can be used, these include; thermal infrared sensors and quantum infrared sensors. Thermal sensors use infrared energy as heat and their photosensitivity is not dependent upon the wavelength that is detected. Quantum sensors can provide higher detection performance and faster response times, their photo is dependent on the wavelength that is detected. Additionally, Thermal sensors do not need to be cooled down as opposed to quantum sensors which do.

       10. Sound Sensor:

This sensor can detect the intensity of sound in the nearby area. The most commonly known sound sensor is the microphone, this can then be broken down into different types of microphone, these include; dynamic, piezoelectric, and electrostatic (condenser). Each type of microphone mentioned above has its benefits and drawbacks, this means that a certain type of microphone is going to be better suited for certain tasks compared to the others. For example, condenser microphones provide high stability and can easily provide a flat frequency response over a wide range of frequencies. Whereas, dynamic microphones provide great sound quality in all areas of microphone performance.

Detects smoke
Smoke detectors can have single or multiple sensors that are used to detect smoke in the surrounding area. They are used to protect people by making them aware of any airborne particles or gases which could be inhaled and cause health problems for people. This is especially true for the smoke detectors used in industries such as manufacturing. The different types of sensors in smoke detectors are temperature sensors (thermistor), Infrared sensors, and ionization smoke sensors.

     11. Level Sensor:

Level sensors are used to measure the amount of liquid or other substances there is that flow in an open or closed system. Some applications of this sensor include; measuring fuel levels, monitoring sea levels, used in medical equipment, compressors and so on. There are two types of level sensors, and they are; point level sensors and continuous level sensors. Point level sensors detect a specific level and alert the user if what is being sensed is above or below that specific level, the alert is usually an alarm. Continuous level sensors measure liquids within a specific range and continuously output the level of what is being sensed, an example would be the fuel level which is shown in a car.

      12. Image Sensor:

This sensor is used to convert images into electronic signals, so they can be seen electronically. Some examples of this sensor in use would be in; digital cameras, medical imaging equipment, radar systems and so on. There are 2 different types of image sensors, these are; charge-coupled device (CCD) and complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS). Both sensors take images using different methods, however, the quality of the images taken by the different sensors is not very different.

       13. Occupancy Sensor:

This sensor is used for motion detection indoors, it can detect people in the surrounding area and will automatically trigger an action, this action could be something like controlling the amount of light the room has or increasing/decreasing the temperature. These sensors can use infrared signals, ultrasonic waves, and microwaves to carry out their job. There are many types of occupancy sensors, these include; environmental sensors, PIR sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and microwave sensors. Moreover, a vacancy sensor is similar to the occupancy sensor, but it needs the lights to be turned on already, so it can switch them off when it can not detect the presence of people.

      14. Accelerometer Sensor:

This sensor is used to measure the acceleration which an object goes through, the sensor converts this into an electrical output. These sensors have many uses and are present in many devices all around the world, for example, mobile phones have these sensors and they detect vibrations, tilting, and acceleration. There are a variety of accelerometer sensors, these include; capacitive accelerometers, hall-effect accelerometers, and piezoelectric accelerometers. Each accelerometer sensor mentioned above is better suited for certain situations compared to the others.

       15. Motion Sensor:

Motion sensors
Motion Sensors

This sensor is used to detect any movement in the nearby area. There are two types of motion sensors, these are active motion sensors and passive motion sensors. Active motion sensors send out ultrasonic sound waves and then these waves bounce back to the sensor, once the waves which are bouncing back are interfered with, an action will be triggered. Passive motion sensors detect infrared radiation which is emitted in the form of heat energy, once this heat energy increases an action will be triggered. Passive motion sensors do not detect small fluctuations in heat energy.


I’m an electrical engineer and a part-time blogger. I love to Play around with electronic parts (build small robots of any kind). I try to post information that can help others.


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