rom Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” to “WALL-E” and the successive“Terminator” series, we have seen how robots have playedthe protagonists. If those reel life robots were any hint of the future, they today come to play the new frontiers in technology and are all set to enter our daily lives. Experts predict that just as software and hardware industries have played pioneering roles in the development of technology for the last 25 years, so robotics as a field is going to see the next wave of innovation in the comingyears. Every day we read about new applications of robotics: from Amazon trying its drones for the home delivery of its products to Google’s self-driving cars, robotics is fast emerging as a major field of technological advancement.
Nitin Motani, Chairman of SK Robotics, succinctly describes the current trends in the robotics industry by saying, “Over the next 5 years, the robotics industry will reach the heights similar to what software and hardware industry has achieved in 25years.” Unlike the pharmaceutical industry where a development is noticed in every 3 months, the robotics industry throws opensome or other new application every single day. However he is quick to point out that unlike in the developed countries—where robotics industry is evolving at a very rapid pace—in India robotics industry is still in its budding stage and is comparatively moving slowly.
Nitin, however, believes that India has immense potential to emerge as a leading design and manufacturing hub for robotics, catering to huge demands in global markets. Looking at the opportunities that lay ahead, SK Robotics has aggressive plans to spearhead Robotics design, development and manufacturing in India. The company firmly believes that the usages of robots are fast evolving,and it is only matter of time that it makes inroads into commercial and domestic markets;Robots will eventually help individuals carry out their jobs more efficiently and accurately.
Robotics is going to touch every single field right from the household chores to country’s defense system, from nursing at the hospitals to tackling hazardous job conditions, robots are going to take over repetitive and laborious jobs.
Despite Hurdles, India Set To Breed Robots
Even though India is the largest consumer of technological products such as mobiles, tablets, laptops etc., the country still lacks the impetus required for large scale production as demanded by the robotic industry. Indian business conditions, unfortunately, still favor small and medium scale industries over the large scale industries. On the other hand, robotics technology demands huge investments and support for large scale manufacturing facilities. Nitin believes that India needs to bridge this gap. In addition to manufacturing hurdles, robotics industry also struggles with the availability of skilled workforce. One of the reasons for the shortage of skilled manpower in robotics is the mass exodus of largely talented Indian youth to western countries in search of better lifestyle and opportunities. India produces a huge pool of talented work force every year but this work force is attracted towards foreign countries merely because of the size and opportunities these countries offer, and we in India have to stay contented with small or medium sized facilities with the leftover workforce. The situation, however, is improving with increased interest towards robotics as a career option.
Explicating the problems the robotics industry is facing today, Nitin says, “Robotics as a field is very new and highly technical. There are very few reference materials and data banks available.” Lack of proper technical knowledge is the biggest hurdle. There are very few educational institutes that provide robotics engineering in their curriculum. Even the technical consultants in the industry face the same hurdle at present. Nitin believes that consultants need to catch up with latest trends that are fast emerging in the industry. Due to the lack of resources, not many consultancy companies are coming forward. Beating all odds, SK robotics has developed an house team expert of consultants who, with their depth of knowledge, can take the technology to the next level.
SK Robotics is working on several new robotics products, focusing primarily at robots deployed for cleanings purposes. It has recently launched a Dustbin Robot which moves in designated area to collect the garbage, there by taking over the unproductive work from the human workforce. The advantages of using robots for mundane jobsare diverse. Explaining the benefits of using robotic technologies, Nitin says, “I think that technology in form of robots can be of a great help by taking over the monotonous jobs by the robots and the human work force can be used for more intelligent work.”
Unlike its widespread acceptance in the west, robotics technology is yet to make inroads into Indian household and commercial establishments. With the aim of providing Indian household the benefits of robotics technologies, SK Robotics aims to provide affordable robots in the Indian market and set up manufacturing facilities here. Nitin emphasized, “Our aim is to make robots affordable for every Indian home and commercial establishment by the year 2020.” Accordingly, the company plans to come up with new products that will assist individuals in their daily activities. The company believes that India can strive to become a hub for robotics manufacturing for the world market. As robotics industry picks up in India, SK Robotics plans to be the face of robotics in the country. (As told to Sudeshna Mazumdar)