Types of RPA Bots and who Starts them?

Difference between Unattended and Attended Bots

Within RPA circles, it is normal to describe a Bot as either Attended or Unattended. In simple terms, this basically describes the difference between robots which are started manually and/or part of a process which includes a human, hence the term ‘Attended’, and a Bot that runs without any in-process input from a human, actioning an end-to-end process automatically. Hence the term ‘Unattended’.

A good example of an Attended RPA Bot is one that works alongside a customer service rep for instance, and is started by the rep to go and retrieve customer information, while the rep is speaking on the phone to the client. They can also be termed as a ‘Digital Assistant’, helping them with their tasks.

An example of an Unattended RPA robot would be one which runs automatically in the background of the user’s computer desktop, or in a Cloud environment and on a server somewhere remote from the business.

The Accounts Payable case study is a good example of an ‘Unattended’ Bot. The RPA Bot is scheduled to automatically check an email account twice a day, and if there are emails with supplier invoices to process, the Bot will do this automatically in the background.


This is yet another term used to describe an Attended RPA bot. As the name suggests, a Human is still part of the process. However, the term tends to describe situations where a human input is required. For instance, the Bot might start the automation and then stop while it waits for the human to enter a password for instance, or review some information that cannot be automated and determine a next course of action, or even solve a Captcha if one appears.

Who starts an RPA process?

Normally, an Attended RPA process would be started manually by a human. To do this, there is a small software application placed on the user’s laptop where there is a start button. On the other hand, an Unattended process would be scheduled using a dashboard called an Orchestrator. This allows the user to schedule Bots to run at different times of the day, and indicate which Bot they would like to run the automation.

Lastly, it is possible to start a Bot from another program. So for instance, a software application can request more information and automatically trigger a Bot to go and retrieve it for instance using an API (Application Programming Interface), essentially an electronic connection between one software application and another.