If you look at the use of robots today, what would the market penetration look like in India as well as globally?
India has a very low robot penetration compared to industrialised countries. Globally, the robotics market is growing at a healthy rate and India, with its fast-growing economy and rapid manufacturing growth, is well-placed to mimic these secular trends to become the next big robotics market.
What is the greatest challenge facing the global robotics industry today?
The greatest challenge for the robotics industry today is the perception that it replaces humans. It is a misplaced apprehension of the fact that countries with high robot penetration are enjoying resurgence in manufacturing and continue to add more well-paid manufacturing jobs.
What do you think about robot malfunctions in a factory? How frequent are the incidences and what are the possible reasons?
With advancing technology and strict adherence to industry safety regulations, robot malfunctions are becoming rare. On the contrary, robots can be used as the eyes and ears of the manufacturing environment in order to spot production glitches and lead through for predictive maintenance.
Can a robot self-diagnose a malfunction and avoid causing any damage? What role can the human play here?
With embedded sensors and machine learning, modern robots could self-diagnose problems and resolve them or warn for predictive maintenance. Furthermore, as robots become more intelligent and safe, they can work alongside humans to learn and avoid problems in real-time.
The robotics industry has undergone a huge change in terms of technology and applications. Can you highlight the latest trends?
Force sensing, vision, real-time computing and Machine Learning technologies are enabling robots to have a more humanistic perception, i.e. be intrinsically safe and contextually intelligent to work in unstructured environments and work safely alongside humans or other robots.
What are some misconceptions of a robot and its use in the factory?
Some misconceptions about robots are that they are expensive, suitable only for all-out automation and require experts to operate. New human-robot interaction technologies are breaking these barriers and making it possible for robots to be flexible, affordable and easy to operate by anyone enabling smaller and efficient factories.
Do you think the increasing use of robots will affect human jobs? If all the repetitive tasks become automated, what happens to the low-end jobs?
Robots cannot replace humans but can become collaborators to augment human ability. Robots are evolving to be a great humanising force, relieving humans from menial, repetitive and sometimes dangerous jobs, and instead focusing their creative energies on problem-solving. Human-robot collaboration is the next wave, where both robots and humans inform and affect each other.