Science & Technology

Four key challenges robots need to overcome to play a bigger role in business and industry

Joel Reed, government director of the Pittsburgh Robotics Community. (GeekWire Picture / Todd Bishop)

PITTSBURGH — Breakthroughs in robotics are producing a brand new wave of startups and industrial exercise on this metropolis, and the affect might be felt all through the world, if the business can overcome a number of key challenges.

One of many greatest adjustments in Pittsburgh within the 4 years since GeekWire final visited is a renewed deal with commercializing the robotics analysis that has been happening right here for many years. A revitalized Pittsburgh Robotics Community is main the hassle, working intently with Carnegie Mellon College and others.

“We’ve always had a very strong R&D and engineering community,” with many key companies rising organically from that exercise, stated Joel Reed, the Pittsburgh Robotics Community’s government director. The concept now could be to get extra purposeful, “to fill this commercial gap and connect this community with business markets and business channels.”

Reed recognized 4 key challenges to beat for broader adoption of robotics.

  • Economics: “We’re all amazed by the videos that you see on YouTube of humanoids, and what robots can do, but they have to be useful, and they have to pay for themselves. And they have to be economically viable and sustainable. We’re continuing to drive costs down on the cost of these units, and coming up with solutions that actually do derive economic value for customers.”
  • Rules: “Our companies are working to test in a wide variety of locations and geographical areas. And so we need a public-private partnership approach. In places like the Bay Area and Arizona and Texas, they’re a lot more aggressive. Other states, as well, can start participating in this new economy.”
  • Security: “As we start bringing robots out more broadly with us as humans, safety is really important. So our companies have to be focusing on safety. There’s this whole new segment of our industry called collaborative robots. And that is that is the key: how do robots interact with humans in a safe way.”
  • Workforce affect: Historical past exhibits a web optimistic affect on jobs from automation, however “some people will be displaced. And so we need to address that, and be prepared for it in terms of job training and reskilling. But right now, people are not taking these jobs in warehouses, on construction sites, and in other areas where it’s ‘dull, dirty or dangerous.’ So that’s a big part of it.”

These might be a few of the key points on the minds of business leaders gathering this week in Pittsburgh on the Cascadia Join Robotics, Automation & AI convention. The convention is organized by Seattle-based Cascadia Capital, which is underwriting GeekWire’s impartial reporting on the subject.

The industrial potential of robots and automation was evident on an impromptu tour of Pittsburgh’s “Robotics Row” final week, spanning the Strip District and Lawrenceville neighborhood, led by Reed together with Mark Anthony Thomas, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.

At each flip, it appeared, there was a brand new challenge or firm that had popped up since our final go to.

Robotics and automation operations and startups in Pittsburgh, as tracked by the Pittsburgh Robotics Community in its new Robotics Cluster Profile. (Click on for bigger model.)

There have been 39 capital initiatives for robotics and autonomy occupants previously 5 years in Pittsburgh (plus Uber’s preliminary autonomous car analysis middle in 2016) totaling greater than $275 million in development prices and 1.7 million sq. ft of area, in keeping with information compiled by Jeff Burd of Tall Timber Group, a market analysis and consulting agency in Pittsburgh. That features 320,000 sq. ft of latest development.

In its new Robotics Cluster Profile report, the Pittsburgh Robotics Community counts greater than 100 corporations in what it calls the Pittsburgh Robotics Cluster, up from 80 a yr in the past. 

Thomas, of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, stated there’s a concerted effort to maintain entrepreneurs and engineers from feeling the necessity to depart for different elements of the nation.

“Where the strategy 12 years ago was to take the best of our institutions and put them in other markets, now that’s shifted,” Thomas stated. “All the entrepreneurs and creatives now have a place that has been developed for them to stay here. So I think that’s going to change the pipeline of growth.”

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