— Written by Akshay Ahuja
Self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, a robot that can think for itself; these are no longer the fantasies of sci-fi authors or Hollywood directors. This is the reality of our future, and it’s almost here!
The new-age industry will be marked by lightning-speed advancements and mind-boggling change as it brings together the field of robotics in digital, industrial, medical, and biological technologies. Industries earmarked to revolutionise the future and generate millions if not billions for the global economy include robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual or augmented reality.
But as we in India get set to ride this wave of robotics to enter a better and sustainable future, we still have to take large strides in order to rival other nations in this field. One of the biggest reasons is the lack of youngsters taking part in the field. Parents still tend to have tunnel vision regarding the future of their kids. Computer and mechanical engineering, the medical profession still seem to be the preferred job criteria for the masses. Parents are still wary of letting their kids learn a skill like robotics which actually combines both mechanical and computer engineering. This is mostly due to lack of awareness around the topic. Before we can see how robotics is changing the face of the future, we must know what it actually is.
What is robotics?
Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineering and computer science. It deals with the design, construction, operation and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. These technologies are used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions.
Robotic science has a tremendous scope as a career option as robots play an important role in the industrial sector. They help in speeding up the process of manufacturing and find application in the fields of nuclear science, sea exploration, designing of bio-medical equipment, etc.
A course in robotics trains and educates a student in the field of artificial intelligence, computer-aided manufacturing, computer integrated manufacturing system, computational geometry, robot motion planning, digital electronics and micro-processing and so much more.
There have been many ground-breaking inventions in the field of robotics. Here are some creations from the past and present that will help you understand the importance of robotics:
Unimate #001, a programmed article transfer device, was made by the father of robotics Joseph Endgelberger and later adopted by general motors and used for die casting and spot welding processes.
“Stanford Arm”, the first computer-controlled, electrically powered robotic arm was designed by Victor Scheinman. A lightweight, multi-programmable and versatile device, it has been widely adapted for use in industry from automobile assembly lines to other tasks.
WABOT-1, designed by Ichiro Kato, is the world’s first full-scale humanoid robot complete with two arms; it could walk on two legs and used a pair of cameras to ‘see’.
“DRDO Daksh” was developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and was inducted by Indian Army around 2011. It is primarily designed to detect and recover Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Mitra Robot is a humanoid robot designed and developed by the Indian startup Invento. It can interact using facial and speech recognition contextual help and autonomous navigation. It recognises speech in multiple languages and is capable of seamless autonomous movement and obstacle detection.
Not all robots have to be a physical entity. Amazon’s Alexa is a virtual assistant, Sophia created by Hanson Robotics is an advanced social AI humanoid which can follow faces, sustain eye contact, recognise individuals and has the ability to make up to 60 expressions.
A career in robotics
One can expect jobs in the manufacturing industries, aerospace industries, private industries, biomedical industries, automobiles, appliance and industrial tools. Students who study robotics technologies at a college or technical school are prepared for careers in robot technology, artificial intelligence computer-controlled machine programming, robotic sales, and more.
Candidates may pursue higher degrees in MS, ME, MTech in robotics, and even PhD in foreign universities. After pursuing an advanced degree, job roles include robotics scientists, robotics engineers, and robotics technicians with an average starting salary of Rs 5-6 lakh per annum in India.
Where to study robotics
Many courses are now available for robotics learning at a young age. While many colleges in India have also started courses in robotics engineering including IIT Kanpur, IISC Bangalore, BITS Pilani to name a few.
Some of the national and international institutes provide the course across different age groups. Following are some of the best courses available for different age groups:
For school students
Robogenie is an online learning platform for children from 5 to 13 years of age and offers a variety of courses like coding, robotics, web designing, public speaking, speed math. They use robotics learning combined with the basics of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) subjects.
Robochamps is another start-up which has trained more than 20,000 children by setting up robotics laboratory in nearly 800 schools. Teaching involves coding basics, fundamentals of basic electronic components, programming and building robots.
TECHIE UNI, a United States-based start-up, SP robotics work are also some of the online educators available for children at school level to learn robotics.
The International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad offers postgraduate, PhD courses as well as some part-time programmes in the stream. IIIT-H offers Robotic Research as well. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has a Center for Robotics, which offers courses by faculty members from aeronautical, computer science engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering departments. Manipal Institute of Technology offers MTech in Industrial Automation and Robotics under its Mechatronics Department.
Further, edx – an online platform offers certifications in robotics from world-renowned universities. They have many courses like robot operating system (ROS), MicroMasters in Robotics from the University of Pennsylvania , Columbia University’s popular MicroMasters in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
— Written by co-founder, Robochamps