Robotics: What Is It All About?
Though man considers himself the superior-most creation, there are certain areas where his involvement remains restricted. That’s when automation of certain processes becomes necessary. With the advent of robotics in 1920s, the entire process of automation took a giant leap. Human life has now become less monotonous and more hassle-free.
We can define a robot as a programmable machine that can carry out specific complex, dangerous or repetitive tasks with greater efficiency and better speed compared with human beings. The branch that handles robots is called robotics.
The Global Picture
As robotics enhances the quality and quantity of products—thus revolutionizing the industrial sector—its use has reached sky-high within the years. According to the International Federation of Robotics, around 1.63 million of industrial robots were in operation worldwide in 2015, which is expected to rise to 2.6 million by 2019.
How Far Is India In The Revolution?
Not too far, we can say. Though India started late, the use of industrial robotics in India is soaring with due time. In fact, according to the International Federation of Robotics, India now ranks third in the world in implementing industrial robotics for its core business processes. India’s contribution to the world of robotics can be highlighted with the introduction of the humanoid ‘Mitra’ to the world. Mitra includes a range of artificial intelligence features, such as face recognition, conversation and autonomous navigation, which make it all the more incredible.
Thus, it is indisputable that the robotics industry is showing an upward trend of growth in India, which has accelerated the country’s demands for Industrial Robotics considerably. The reasons for this increased demand of industrial robots have been listed below.
A business that applies a process that saves both time and money goes a long way to be successful. And robotics is the most appropriate tool for this success, as it can cut down the constant attention required from the employees in manufacturing and delivering a product. Robotic automation can now complete tedious and difficult-to-handle processes more easily, which not only saves time but also money.
India is a land of agriculture; however, it is very depressing to know that the suicide rate of farmers in India has ranged between 1.4 and 1.8 per 100,000 total population over a 10-year period through 2005, the highest number of suicide cases being recorded in 2004 when 18,241 farmers committed suicide in the regions of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Also, the lack of knowledge of using fertilizers besides the lack of manpower have made the situation grimmer.
All the above-mentioned crises can be eradicated, enabling an improved version of the Indian agricultural sector, by the use of Robotics. Researches are underway for the establishment of the robotic technology in the agricultural sector. From sowing seeds and watering plants to cutting weeds, spraying fertilizers, examining the soil and harvesting the yield, a robot can contribute massively in farming.
Due to the high patient volume and myriad complex diseases encountered in India, robotic surgery is expected to have a great future here. Although robotic surgery in India is still in its infancy, a new marketing intelligence report by BIS Research suggests that coming years may see a significantly higher prospect in the surgical robotics market in India compared with the global scenario—India’s surgical robotics market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 20% between 2017 and 2025, as compared to the global rate of 12%. At present, India has over 50 players in the market, including Intuitive Surgical Inc, Accuray Inc, Mazor Robotics Ltd, Medrobotics Corporation, Medtech SA, Renishaw plc, Stryker Corporation, Synaptive Medical Inc, Titan Medical Inc and so on.
The benefits of the robotic surgery treatment over open surgery are many, some of which are lesser chances of medical errors, shorter period of hospitalization, lower post-surgery discomfort, faster recovery time, reduced infection risks, lesser number of transfusions and minimal surgical scarring on the body.
India is facing an upsurge in the growth of online shopping, thus affirming the need for warehouse automation. In fact, new-generation robots have already flooded into many of the warehouses in India. Manufacturing, logistics, retail and e-commerce sectors are the major areas where warehouse automation has been the most apparent. For instance, Amazon is reported using 30,000 robots in 10 of its warehouses; these robots are capable of delivering entire shelves of products to the packaging units of a warehouse.
India is one of the key markets for warehouse automation systems in Asia. The Indian market for warehouse automation is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10–12% during 2015–2020, and is expected to reach $3.49 billion by 2020.
Use of robotics in the Defence sector can be a huge blow to the enemy countries of India. A report in Greater Kashmir has stated that the Defence Ministry is about to introduce robotic weapons to assist the Indian Army to counterinsurgency and terror attacks. Robots in the army may lower the incidences of deaths or injuries among the soldiers, besides taking the place of soldiers when climatic conditions are adverse. After the Pulwama attack, such a measure becomes extremely important.
The Centre for Artificial Intelligence (CAIR) is in the process of developing Multi-Agent Robotics Framework (MARF), which could be used in scenarios like Pulwama Attack. Also, it has constructed the ‘Robot Sentry’—a mobile robot that can carry out patrolling and surveillance applications in extreme conditions—and the ‘Snake Robot’, which can help to navigate difficult passages.
Social care encompasses a range of activities from child protection and handling to care of the aged population. The demand for social care is rising but the quality of care, which now comes at an exorbitant price, is degrading with time. Robots, with their appropriate sensors and smart software, can be incorporated to reduce the pressure on the existing social care systems. Robots can be used to perform tasks such as washing, cleaning and feeding. They can assist in reminding when to take medications, besides monitoring the wellbeing and educating kindergarten children. Robots are now developed to assist in improving memory in dementia patients and managing children with cognitive disabilities.
Several automobile giants like Tata Motors, Hyundai, Honda etc in India use robots along with blue-collar employees for efficient and faster production of vehicle parts.
With a bunch of robots and blue-collar employees, Hyundai plant in Sriperumbudur, Chennai, churns out one car every 30 seconds! Likewise, Tata motors, using industrial robotics and automation for production, reveals a decrease in its production force by 20% and an increase in turnover by 250%.
Robots are proving advantageous in filling, inspecting, packaging and manufacturing personalized medicines. Automation has now become an integral part of the pharmaceutical production process. The various benefits of automation include: efficiency; saving workers from hazardous environments or repetitive tasks; reducing training overhead; eliminating human error; increasing repeatability and reproducibility; and reducing the potential for human contamination.
Reviewing financial documents in bank with the help of robots can cut down the number of human errors. Moreover, processes like mortgage approval, credit card processing, account cleansing and cost accounting can be automated for the smooth running of bank processes. Humanoids, i.e., human-like robots, through their speech technology can inform customers of the product categories and assist them in carrying out different bank processes.
Robotics has its application in almost all the sectors, including healthcare, textile, agriculture, automobile, pharmaceutical, industrial, IT, mining and so on. The rapid growth of robotics in India has opened up several career avenues and a wide range of entrepreneurial opportunities in fields like engineering, development, research and management of robots.
The contributions of automation are too huge to ignore. To keep up with the changing educational and economic facade of the country, the next generation should be well acquainted with Robotics. Although Robotics is an emerging science, it has immense demand among the student population of India. According to a report by Economic Times, Robotics education in India is a 500-Crore industry that is supposed to become the mainstay of educational curricula at all educational levels in coming years. And seats in Universities offering degrees in robotics are already selling like hot cakes.