What is Robotics Engineering?
Robotics engineering is an exciting and challenging field of study with enormous practical benefits for humanity.
However most people associate these perceived benefits with a distant future, unaware of just how integrated robotics already are in our day to day lives.
With driverless cars currently in development and drones expected to to be used in a delivery capacity in the very near future this is only expected to increase over time as technological advancements bring robotics ever more rapidly into our lives.
Essentially robotics engineering is a combination of computer science, electronics, programming, signal processing and systems engineering.
It’s important to understand that a career in robotics doesn’t mean you will be building the next R2D2. In the main robotics are largely used for the automation of repetitive tasks such as those associated with production lines in manufacturing environments e.g. vehicle production. The advantages to this are many and include:
• Reducing human error
• Greater efficiency than a human counterpart
• Higher level of precision
• Lack of downtime
• Higher level of safety
• Greater level of consistency
What Does a Robotics Engineer Do?
Robotics engineers are responsible for the design and creation of robots.
Anything you have fantasized about as a child might be realized in the form of an automated system and synchronization with other devices that interact with a robot. In the process of design, you will also be responsible for system diagnostics, troubleshooting, and the supervision of mechanical maintenance and repair. Engineers typically work in groups, so it will help to have a collaborative mindset.
The future of Robotic Engineering
Robots are high-performance machines with a tight grip on our economy and our future, and as they make their way into new industries, there’s a growing demand for skilled workers to build, operate, and service them.
While many blue-collar and even some white-collar jobs may be filled by robots, especially in manufacturing, a new set of jobs are being created.
According to data from the Robotic Industry Association, the market for industrial robots continues to rise.
However, as more robots enter the workforce, companies that use them face a shortage of workers with the skills to program and maintain the complex machinery.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for qualified robotics engineers is expected to grow by as much as 13 percent through 2018.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts has had robotics education and research programs for more than 30 years, and launched its first robotics degree program in 2007. Now students can earn a master’s degree in robotics online. Researchers at WPI are concentrating on healthcare robotics, including a surgical robot that’s guided by images from an MRI scan.
Alec Ross, author of The Industries of the Future: Robotics today are what the internet was 20 years ago
Ross believes that "today's robots are going to look like the PCs of 1993 pretty soon." A big reason for this, he said, is that "cloud robotics has taken the traditional development model for robots, what we historically might have thought was necessary in terms of hardware and software in-unit, and radically transformed that."
That, in turn, has transformed the economic equation as well. "By enabling a robot to draw from the intelligence in the cloud and therefore not needing such spectacular processing power inside the unit," he said, the cost will drop significantly.
Life Like Robots and Co
Robotic engineers are designing the next generation of robots to look, feel and act more human, to make it easier for us to warm up to a cold machine.
Realistic looking hair and skin with embedded sensors will allow robots to react naturally in their environment. For example, a robot that senses your touch on the shoulder and turns to greet you.
Subtle actions by robots that typically go unnoticed between people, help bring them to life and can also relay non verbal communication.
Artificial eyes that move and blink. Slight chest movements that simulate breathing. Man made muscles to change facial expressions. These are all must have attributes for the socially acceptable robots of the future.
Now we have a lot of different types of robots as robotic pets in processof developing and improving - Pets of the future might be robots with artificial intelligence.
Rescue Robots - All terrain robots (ATRs), will truly function as a team by sharing their locations, discoveries, search patterns and more. Large ATRs could carry many smaller robots and provide them with localized control and power.
Robotic Insects - Insects have come up with many interesting solutions for the problems that future robots will have to deal with like cooperation, specialized movement and adapting to changing environments. Robotic engineers are incorporating examples found in nature into their designs.
Exoskeletons - Wearable bionic suits are being developed for the military to allow soldiers to carry heavier loads and to conserve energy.
Other uses for exoskeletons are assisting rescue workers move heavy objects and bionics for motor-impaired patients
Robot Caregivers - Mobile robot assistants designed to people in daily life activities.
The future is coming. It's coming with the incredible inventions and technical miracles. The robots are becoming the part of our life.