By: Jayakrishnan T, CEO, ASIMOV Robotics and IEEE Member
The future where robots will be in every home and workplace is not far away. With recent developments in AI, we are seeing the advent of intelligent robots that can perform tasks similar to that of a human being. There is also a rising demand globally for human-like robots that can perform tasks such as information assistance, delivery, surveillance and so forth.
Robotics is going through an exciting phase in India. Due to the increased connectivity and availability of rapid prototyping methods, India will catch-up with the global trends in this area in near future. Due to the advancement of IoT and improvement in internet connectivity, the awareness of the public will soon be on par with the developed countries. The acceptance, however, will be a gradual process before robots address real-life issues, alongside with human beings. Though India is not yet self-sufficient to develop or manufacture complex and sophisticated robotic system, however, due to the availability of 3D printers and opens source development platforms like ROS, it has brought-in significant changes to the ability of Indian researchers to come-up with robotic solution for specific problems in the day to day life.
The hurdles in its way
As robotics is multi-disciplinary, the developmental and manufacturing facilities required is much complicated and diversified compared to any other engineering products. Considering the prevailing scenario, to support the development, we need to import things right from raw materials, tools and sub finished assemblies from outside India. The import duty charged and the delay in processing documents are seriously affecting the development.
Another challenge we face is that the unawareness among the beneficiaries and general public about this technology. Due to this, the opportunities are not seen. Whereas robots are still seen as a threat to human community too. Hopefully this situation may change in a couple of years. There is growing speculation that robotics will eat up lot of human jobs in the near future. has two aspects. It is absolutely true that technology like robotics will revolutionize the human employment. On the other hand, as technology overlap with human capabilities, being the most intelligent creature in the planet, we must adapt to the new circumstances to convert the challenge in to an opportunity. It also true that technology has been always helping us to improve the quality of our life. The introduction or advancement of technology is not deliberate. it is always evolved to address difficult problems from time to time. If we look back, we can see that computers and internet connectivity have already replaced hundreds of human resources. But at the same time, they have created many new opportunities of employment directly and indirectly. They also help us in issues starting from billing in a cash counter, forecasting weather, addressing medical advancement and space exploration etc.
On the bright side
Robotics however has a bright future in India, primarily for two reasons. One is that the ability of Indians to adapt to any new technologies had always followed a hockey-stick curve. Just like in case of computers, internet and mobile devices, Indians will increasingly get used to robotics in the coming years. The second reason is that there is a collective interest from the government, academia and IT organisation to explore and invest into the opportunities in robotics. This would create a favourable ecosystem in this country for robotics to grow. There is a huge possibility that situation can be further leveraged to promote the return of talents in this domain who is working in other countries at present.
Moreover, Indians are inherently good in maths even from the historical days. Robotics is one of the domains wherein the ability in mathematics would help to solve complex problems.