Standardization is yet another major hurdle. As no standard operating systems and software are currently in use, there exists diversity in the possible configurations that a robot can be built and also in the hardware in use. It is often necessary to write programming codes form scratch when dealing with new robots.
Other issues such as concurrency cost compliance control, robot locomotion (particularly for legged, amphibious and flying robots), human computer interaction haptics, cognition computer vision and more are also facing a great deal of scrutiny with considerable research going each area.
A high level of specialization is required to work on any particular aspect of robotics. Hence there are not too many options for taking up robotics as a degree in it self especially at the undergraduate level. Robotics remains a popular course as an elective for engineering students. There are a few institutes that offer postgraduate programs in robotics most notably Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute
Given the interdisciplinary nature of the field however, the opportunities to pursue robotics from a variety of perspective abound. A good background in mechanics, control and algorithms is the primary requirement required for doing any work in robotics. In addition to this, if one would like to get involved in aerial robotics such as Unmanned Aircrafts then basic knowledge of aerodynamics and aircraft mechanics is essential. Robotics can be broadly divided into mechanical design and control algorithms. Research is carried out on improving the motion of the robot through a good structural design and enhancing is efficiency and adaptability through better control design, computer vision, artificial intelligence etc. A combination of mechanical engineering, electronics and computer science turns out to be an ideal background for a robotics enthusiast.
Despite the seeming complexity of the field, one can work on robotics even after completing ones undergraduate degree. As Bose explains disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical, engineering, electronics, computer science and industrial engineering are some of the principle areas that deal with robotics. Individuals with a background in physics or mathematics can also go far in the field considering the vast amount of theory and abstraction involved as can those with a background in product design, as they can work on functionality concepts and feasibility.
Prior experience in robotics certainly helps – especially hobbyist robotics a working with robotics societies in college since they provide a hand on feel of the discipline. Internships with robotics companies are also well appreciated by the industry. Students should communicate more. Forums the internet professor friends can all serve as excellent resources.
Academic and industrial research in robotics is a very fertile ground especially for those aiming for masters and doctoral degrees.
Opportunities in India are still emerging and the focus is primarily on educational robotics. There are hardly any companies that are designing and building industrial quality robots in the country.
Bose informs that robots used in India are usually designed and manufactured abroad. Purchasers of these robots also known as channel partners are trained to assemble and sell them to end clients in the country. For any individual seeking a career, in the industry, a good understanding of robotics is essential as is the ability to communicate and work well with teams. There are a lot of opportunities in maintenance sales and marketing. Teaching and training opportunities are also flourishing.
In terms of robotic research in India there are excellent labs and facilities at IISc Bangalore, IIT-K, IIT- B, IIT- D, and IIIT- H. These labs mostly work on ground based mobile robotics and aerial robotics. All these institutes offer postgraduates and doctoral degrees summer fellowships and project based employment opportunities for those with a research aptitude. These robotics labs rate among the best in the world in terms of their research output, publications and patents.
If you are really interested in robotics It is important to start as early as possible. The idea behind the SRA was to allow freshers to start early and provide them a platform that we did not have during our time. When starting with robotics there is usually some minor glitches and nuances that can be avoided with some simple guidance. Students don’t need to waste an entire year on that now. They can take up more challenging projects with steeper learning curves. If they are focused and determined enough, they will certainly achieve significant goals in their remaining years in college well before they step out into the real world.