Total Stations are electronic/optical instruments used for surveying and building construction. The total station is an electronic theodolite (transit) integrated with an electronic distance measurer (EDM) to read slope and horizontal distances from the instrument to a particular point.
Data collection is often used in conjunction with the total station, whether it be via on-board software or using a separate device called a data collector. This is useful in performing advanced coordinate based calculations.
Robotic total stations allow the operator to control the instrument from a distance via remote control. This eliminates the need for an assistant, as the operator holds a reflector/prism (target) and controls the total station from the field data collection device.