By Manu Anand
Robotics is a diverse field that offers excellent opportunities to engineers with various specialisations to innovate and make life easy with the use of intelligent and efficient machines. Deriving its origin from the Czech word robota, meaning forced labour; robots are the helping hands everyone has always wished for. Created as a result of the perfect blend of the human imagination and technological developments, robots can be described as mechanical devices that are capable of performing a variety of complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance.
Robots are used in industries for speeding up the manufacturing process. Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics. Rapid developments have made robotic technology professions among the most exciting available to recent graduates.
What does a robotic engineer do?
A robotic engineer designs, assembles and disassembles robots and/or peripheral equipment like circuit boards, sensors, controllers, encoders, servomotors, servo valves, or automatic lubrication systems; designs experimental robotic models, production line robots with programmable arms, maintains and upgrades older production line installations; installs robots or robot systems where required; integrates robotics with welders, controllers, or other equipment; modifies computer-controlled motion of robots; programs robots for series of moves manually or by electronic instructions to a micro-processor and trouble shoots to determine robot malfunctions.
What does one learn?
A course in robotics trains and educates a student in the field of artificial intelligence, computer-aided manufacturing, autonomous mobile robotics, computer integrated manufacturing system, robot motion planning, digital electronics and micro-processing, computational geometry, modelling and control of flexible robots. The different facets of building a robot include working on developing the hardware, software, intelligence control and adaptive control of this machine.
List of courses: Diploma in Robotics, BERobotics, BTech Robotics, BE Advanced Robotics, BE Robotics and Automation, BTech in Mechatronics Engineering, ME in Automation and Robotics, ME in Robotics, MTech in Robotics and MTech in Automation and Robotics.
Eligibility at the UG level: Candidate should have passed 10+2 or an equivalent examination with maths, physics and chemistry with a minimum of 50 per cent marks. Also, they will have to clear the common entrance test of the institute offering the course.
Eligibility at the PG level: The eligibility criterion for pursuing a postgraduate degree is holding an undergraduate degree in (BE/BTech) in mechanical, electrical, electronics and instrumentation or computer engineering. The duration of the course is two years.
Specialisations: Some common core courses at the postgraduate level are artificial intelligence, automation, air traffic management systems, bio-cybernetics, computer aided manufacturing, computational geometry, design and control, digital electronics and micro-processors, foundations of robotics, medical robotics, micro-robotics, robot manipulators, robot dynamics, robot motion planning and signal processing.
Educational skills required: One must be aware of the practical application of engineering science and technology. Candidates must possess knowledge on circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software including applications and programming, design techniques, tools, and principals involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models. Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance along with knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and their applications is also a must. Prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes must also be understood by aspiring robotic engineers.
Personal skills: One must possess critical and analytical thinking, active listening, complex problem solving, judgment and decision making, attention to detail, dependability, persistence, integrity, innovative, designing vision, creativity and disciplined team spirit skills.
Employment opportunities: Most robotics engineers are employed in laboratories, space exploration, manufacturing plants, mining and organisations, private robot manufacturers or robot users. These days gaming industries are possibly providing the most enjoyable variation of the kind of intelligence provided by robotics. Professionals can also opt for teaching jobs in universities and colleges.
Recruiters in India: Indian robotic firms include Precision Automation Robotics India Limited (PARI); ABB, Kuka Robotics; Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Limited (HRSL); DiFACTO Robotics and Automation; Tata Advanced Systems; Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited; Bhabha Atomic Research Center; Jindal Industries; Tata Automotives and, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). ISRO too has some robotic initiative in the field of space robotics.
Remuneration: Depends on certification and experience.
Where to study: IIT Delhi, Kanpur, Powai, Kharagpur, Madras, Roorkee, Guwahati; University of Hyderabad; MS University Baroda; Banaras Hindu University; Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning; Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology Patialal; The Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani; PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
Colleges offering robotics as a subject abroad: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Leeds, University of Central Lancashire, University of Sheffield, Carleton University, University of Toronto, University of Calgary, Harvard University, KING’S College London, Stanford University, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania.
Developing a robot comes with the goal of finding a solution to problems. This field has no boundaries and will continue to grow until the machines take over!