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Pulak Satish Kumar,

Director and COO

Puresight Systems (iRobot India)

ROBOTICS & HANDLING Humans and robots would coexist harmoniously

May 6, 2019

Industrial robots are getting more advanced, with the influx of new technologies like, AI, Machine Learning and Big Data. - Pulak Satish Kumar, Director and COO, Puresight Systems (iRobot India)

If you look at the use of robots today, what would the market penetration look like in India and globally?

The robotics industry in India is expected to register strong growth numbers in the upcoming years. Robots are being deployed in various sectors, ranging from manufacturing to agriculture. The defence sector, too, is considering the idea of introducing a robotic force. As for the global market, robotics is witnessing unprecedented growth, with a sudden spike in demand for consumer robots. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that we are steadily moving towards a world where humans and robots would coexist harmoniously. The global surgical robotics market is also fast-expanding.

What is the greatest challenge facing the global robotics industry today?

Despite the advancements made in the field of robotics, the industry is still at a nascent stage. This is mainly because of factors, such as, lack of cognizance, lack of multipurpose robots, high cost of implementation, safety concerns and general misconceptions. These challenges are preventing the robotics industry to reach its maximum potential.

What do you think about robot malfunctions in a factory? How frequent are the incidences and what are the possible reasons?

The incidents of robot malfunctions in a factory are not frequent, but they are not uncommon either. There could be many possible reasons, including technical failure, control panel issues, power disruptions, human errors and even environmental factors.

Can a robot self-diagnose a malfunction and avoid causing any damage? What role can the human play here?

While taking self-diagnosing in robotics into account, it is always there as an alert system. If the robot is facing anything wrong, it gives an automatic alert, which can be in any form like, an LED blinking, an alert sound or some digital text showing up on the screen. When it comes to industrial robots, the staff should be trained so that they can identify any signs of failure. Also, only authorised personnel should have access to these robots. Similarly, domestic robots should be handled with care and the owners should ensure that the robots are maintained properly.

The robotics industry has undergone a huge change in terms of technology and applications. Can you highlight the latest trends?

Earlier, robots were designed only for industrial usage. Today, companies are equally focused on developing consumer robots and companion robots that exhibit some human values. At the same time, industrial robots are getting more advanced, with the influx of new technologies like, AI, Machine Learning and Big Data.

What are some misconceptions of a robot and its use in the factory?

The main misconception is that robots are evil and can turn against humans, especially, in a factory setting, where robots could go haywire and harm humans. Another major misconception is that robots will cause mass job destruction or unemployment.

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?

Contrary to popular belief, the rise of robotics will create more jobs than destroy. Of course, some jobs will become obsolete. However, this doesn’t mean that humans will be left without any jobs. Instead, their roles will evolve and workers will need to upgrade their skill-sets. In any case, it’s safe to say that there wouldn’t be a time in the future where we wouldn’t require human intervention.

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