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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 32, 04-10 November 2023

The Rise of Robotics

Shaping the Future of Technology and Careers

 

Prateek Singh

Mihir Singh

 

 

The captivating universe of Robotics is a world where machines spring to life, under-taking tasks once relegated to the realms of science fiction. Here, engineering and computer science unite, creating a boundless arena where creativity reigns, and the horizons of possibility are forever stretched.

 

Robotics involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of intelligent machines designed to assist humans in a multitude of ways. These ingenious creations can mimic human forms or exist in the digital world, performing tasks with precision.

 

Although the concept of Robots might seem like a product of the digital age, it has deeper roots. The term "Robotics" traces its origins to the play "Rossum's Universal Robots" written by Czech writer Karel Capek in 1920. However, it was science fiction author Isaac Asimov who refined the term, giving birth to the three fundamental laws of Robotics that continue to guide us today.

Robots come in various forms, ranging from industrial giants to compact, intelligent gadgets. They find their place in numerous domains:

Home Electronics, where they autonomously manage tasks like vacuuming and lawn maintenance.

·         AI and Machine Learning, where they contribute to processes such as object recognition, natural language processing, predictive main-tenance, and process autom-ation, propelling the field of Artificial Intelligence forward.

·         Law Enforcement and Military, employing robotic technology for surveillance missions and improving battlefield mobility for soldiers.

·         Mechanical Engineering, where they aid in tasks as diverse as inspecting pipe-lines for corrosion and evaluating the structural integrity of buildings.

·         Bio-engineering and Health-care, with their presence in the form of surgical Robots, assistive devices, lab assist-ants, and telemedicine Robots, transforming health-care and bio-engineering.

·         Aerospace, where Robots play a crucial role in drilling, painting, coating, inspecting, and maintaining aircraft components.

 

Popular Categories of Robots

Industrial Robots: These heavy-weights dominate the manufacturing and warehouse scenes, handling tasks from welding to material handling.

Service Robots: From cleaning to offering personal assistance, these Robots make life more convenient in various fields.

Medical Robots: In the healthcare realm, they assist in surgeries, reha-bilitation, and diagnostics.

Autonomous Vehicles: Think self-driving cars, drones, and delivery Robots - they navigate the world using advanced sensors and AI algorithms.

Humanoid Robots: These remarkably human-like creations find their place in research, entertainment and human-robot interactions.

Cobots: The team players among Robots, Cobots share workplaces with humans, amplifying productivity and safety.

Agricultural Robots: From planting to harvest, they're the farmers' trusty companions.

Exploration and Space Robots: Whether it's exploring the cosmos or harsh Earthly environments, these Robots boldly go where humans can't.

Defence and Military Robots: They tackle critical military operations, from surveillance to search-and-rescue.

Educational Robots: Designed to educate and inspire, these Robots make learning about Robotics and problem-solving fun and accessible.

Entertainment Robots: From robotic pets to interactive toys, they add joy and wonder to our lives.

 

Crafting a Career in Robotics: Crucial Traits and Skills

Tech Skills: Embarking on a career in Robotics requires a multifaceted set of aptitudes and personality traits. First and foremost, a strong foundation in technical skills, especially in mathematics, engineering, and computer science, is essential. The ability to navigate complex algorithms, programming languages, and intricate systems is paramount.

Passion for Innovation: A deep passion for innovation and a curiosity to explore the uncharted territories of technology can be the driving force behind groundbreaking advancements.

Problem-Solving Skills: In addition to technical prowess, problem-solving skills are indispensable. Robotics often invo-lves tackling multifaceted challenges, demanding a keen analytical mind and the tenacity to unravel intricate issues.

Creativity: Creativity goes hand in hand with problem-solving, as robotic engineers often find innovative solutions to novel problems.

Adaptability: The world of Robotics is ever-evolving, and adaptability is key. As technologies and methodologies shift, the ability to continuously learn and embrace new concepts is a significant advantage.

Communication Skills: Effective communication and teamwork skills are equally important, as Robotics projects typically involve multidisciplinary coll-aboration where sharing insights and working harmoniously are vital.

Patience: Patience is another virtue, especially when debugging code or fine-tuning complex mechanical systems.

 

Robotics in India: An Overview

In the past decade, India has made significant strides in fortifying its industrial base through the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies, particularly Robotics, which have led to remarkable gains in productivity. According to the World Robotics Report of 2022, India now holds the 10th position globally for annual industrial robot installations. This remark-able growth underscores the substantial potential of Robotics in India, poised to revolutionise industries, foster inclusive growth, and elevate living standards.

 

Nevertheless, compared to certain developed economies, the growth of the Robotics ecosystem in India has been relatively sluggish, attributed to challenges like high import dependence, expensive hardware components, and insufficient investments in research and development. Moreover, the scarcity of trained personnel capable of implementing, integrating, and maintaining Robots further impedes the development of the domestic ecosystem.

National Robotics Strategy: To remove such bottlenecks, the Government of India has proposed the National Robotics Strategy, the draft of which was recently floated for stakeholder consultations. The intent behind the proposed strategy is to leverage Robotics in realising the potential of Industry 4.0.

Other initiatives: Over the past couple of decades, several initiatives have been taken to catalyse the Robotics eco-system, including the establishment of technology innovation hubs and research centers such as the AI and Robotics Technology Park (ARTPARK), I-hub Foundation for Cobotics (IHFC), and the involvement of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in Robotics and AI research.

Within India's burgeoning Robotics landscape, numerous capacitybuilding initiatives are propelling the nation towards a digital-savvy future. One such initiative, 'FutureSkills Prime,' orchestrated by the government through MeitY, spearheads a digital talent revolution. It provides a robust online platform for remote and self-paced learning in emerging technologies. Additionally, the 'Atal Innovation Mission' aims to nurture one million young innovators by establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools, featuring DIY kits in Robotics and IoT. Furthermore,

'e-YANTRA,' a Ministry of Education-funded program hosted at IIT Bombay, empowers young engineers to solve real-world problems using technology across various domains. In the realm of 'Make-in-India Robots,' notable creations include 'DAKSHA,' an ROV developed by DRDO for military applications, 'Vyommitra,' ISRO's spacefaring humanoid companion for astronauts, and 'MANAV,' India's first 3D-printed humanoid robot.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

While India's Robotics ecosystem faces a multitude of challenges, these very challenges present compelling reasons for aspiring Roboticists to step into the field. The foremost challenge lies in the inadequacy of skilled human resources, creating a demand for engineers and technicians well-versed in designing, developing, and maintaining Robots. With targeted efforts required to address these challenges, there's a growing need for technical expertise. Additionally, the heavy reliance on imports has led to a fragmented supply chain, emphasising the need for localised production and creating opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. High costs of robot integration have created greater necessity for professionals who can streamline this process and maintain Robots efficiently. As the Indian ecosystem evolves, awareness and governance mechanisms will be essential, paving the way for those well-versed in regulatory aspects and standards. Thus, embracing education in Robotics today ensures a promising and lucrative future in a field ripe for transformation.

In India's rapidly evolving landscape, the role of Robotics is set to redefine key sectors, ushering in transformative changes that promise greater efficiency, productivity, and safety. Industry experts predict that Robotics is set to play a more pivotal role in the following fields in the near future:

·         Manufacturing: Logistics & Ware-housing Automation;  Shopfloor Transformation through Cobots

·         Agriculture: Crop Scouting; Spot Spraying Robots

·         Healthcare: Cleaning & Disinfecting Robots; Safety & Monitoring Robots; Surgical Robots

·         National Security: Mine Detection Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), Surveillance Robots; Remotely                    Operated Vehicles (ROV)

 

Education in Robotics

Robotics spans multiple engineering disciplines, encompassing mechanical, electronics, and communications. There-fore, there is a pressing need for dedicated engineering degree programs in Robotics at the undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral levels in various higher education institutions. The Draft National Strategy on Robotics Information Technology (MEITy) reco-mmends encouraging cross-disciplinary cooperation for robotic innovation by enhancing the design ecosystem in India. It recommends that curricula of 'Industrial Design' and 'Product Design' for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses include essential or optional courses in Robotics. The strategy also includes introduction of specialised postgraduate degrees in Robotics Design within National Design Institutes across the country for fostering expertise. Further-more, the strategy envisions establishing more Centers of Excellence in Robotics to facilitate researcher training through fellowships, collaborating with industry and academic partners, both at home and abroad.

 

Top 10 Colleges to Study Robotics (Indicative List)

Education in Robotics Engineering in India is poised for a remarkable shift. With the impending implementation of the proposed National Robotics Strategy, the courses are expected to undergo a transformative upgrade, aligning with India's ambitious vision to emerge as a global leader in the field of Robotics. The future holds the promise of cutting-edge advancements, innovation, and a re-defined educational experience that will empower the next generation of robotic pioneers in the country. Let's explore the top ranking institutions that are currently paving the way for this exciting journey.

1.         Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee

2.         Thapar University, Patiala

3.         SRM Engineering College, Kanchi-puram

4.         Chandigarh University, Chandigarh

5.         Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar

6.         Visvesvaraya Technological Univer-sity, Belgaum

7.         Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani

8.         Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

9.         Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal

10.       Jadavpur University, Kolkata

11.       Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

12.       Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad

13.       Indian Institute of Information Technology, Pune

14.       Bhubanananda Odisha School of Engineering, (BOSE) Cuttack

15.       Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Pune

16.       Dr. DY Patil Institute of Technology, Pune

17.       Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women, Delhi

18.       Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

19.       Dr. Vishwanath Karad MIT World Peace University, Pune

20.       Amity University, NOIDA

21.       Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai

22.       The National Institute of Engineering, Mysore

23.       Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Pune

24.       Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences, Coimbatore

 

Entrance Exams

While the Joint Entrance Examination Main (JEE Main) and Advanced (JEE Advanced) undoubtedly serve as the primary gateways for securing admission into prestigious institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other renowned engineering colleges, it is important to note that many universities and colleges have their own unique entrance exams as well. These institution-specific exams are tailored to assess candidates in a manner that aligns with their particular academic programs and admission criteria. These exams allow universities and colleges to select students based on a broader range of qualifications and skills, ensuring a well-rounded and diverse student body. Therefore, while JEE Main and Advanced are instrumental for aspirants aiming for premier engineering institutions, other universities and colleges may have their distinctive assessment methods to identify students who are the best fit for their individual academic offerings.

1.         Joint Entrance Exam Main (JEE Main)

2.         Joint Entrance Examination Advanced (JEE Advanced)

3.         Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)

4.         Birla Institute of Technology and Science Admission Test (BITSAT)

5.         Kerala Engineering / Agricultural / Medical Entrance Examination (KEAM)

6.         Vellore Institute of Technology Engineering Entrance Examination (VITEEE)

7.         Telangana State Engineering/ Agricul-ture/Medical Common Entrance Test (TS EAMCET)

8.         Consortium of Medical Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka Under-Graduate Entrance Test                      COMEDK UGET)

9.         Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE)

10.       Rajasthan Polytechnic Exam (Rajasthan Polytechnic Exam)

 

Popular Job Roles in Robotics

Automation Engineer: Automation engineers design, develop, and maintain automated systems to streamline processes and increase efficiency in various industries.

Automation Engineering Manager: These managers oversee teams of engineers, ensuring the successful implementation of automation projects and optimising production processes.

Autonomous Vehicle Design Engineer: These engineers specialise in creating self-driving vehicles, working on the design and development of the autonomous systems.

Design Engineer: Design engineers focus on creating the physical and mechanical aspects of robots and automated systems, ensuring they meet performance and safety standards.

Engineering Manager: Engineering managers lead engineering teams, guiding projects, and ensuring they align with organisational goals.

Factory Automation Engineer: Factory automation engineers design and implement automated systems to improve manufacturing processes and reduce costs.

Research Engineer: Research engineers work on cutting edge technologies, conducting research to develop new robotics solutions and improve existing systems.

Robotic Systems Engineer: These engineers focus on the entire system of robotics, from hardware to software, ensuring all components work harmoniously.

Robotics and Systems Lead: As a lead role, these professionals guide teams in the development and integration of robotics and automation systems, often in complex projects or research initiatives.

India, being a nation poised for technological transformation, choosing a career in Robotics is an exceptional opportunity to be a trailblazer in innovation and contribute to shaping the nation's future. As a roboticist, you'll combine technical expertise with creative problem-solving, addressing complex challenges while continually adapting to this dynamic field. Your decision to become a Robotics Engineer will be no less than a commitment to propel vital sectors forward, improve efficiency, and elevate living standards.

(The authors are NEET & JEE coach. Feedback on this article can be shared at:        feedback.employmentnews@gmail.com).

Views expressed are personal.