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Robotics will revolutionise human employment : Jayakrishnan T, CEO, ASIMOV Robotics and IEEE Member

In conversation with Jayakrishnan T,  IEEE Member and CEO, ASIMOV Robotics on the robotics scenario in India and the future of  robotics in India.

  1. What is the Robotics scenario in India?

Robotics is going through an exciting phase in India. due to the increased connectivity and availability of rapid prototyping methods India will catch-up with the global trends in this area in near future.

Being a revolutionary technology robotics has to also follow a three-dimensional growth pattern which includes social awareness & acceptance, developmental infrastructure and a well-defined educational curriculum.

Due to the advancement of IOT and improvement in internet connectivity, the awareness of the public will soon be on par with the developed countries. The acceptance, however, will be a gradual process before robots address real-life issues, alongside with human beings.

Regarding the infrastructure, India is not yet self-sufficient to develop or manufacture complex and sophisticated robotic systems. Nonetheless, due to the availability of 3D printers, opens source development platform like ROS has brought-in significant changes the ability of Indian researchers to come-up with robotic solution for specific problems in the day to day life.

Finally, the larger and long-standing impact of the technology is possible only when the younger generation gets involved with it. Hence, it is important to make robotics a part of the main stream curriculum from the elementary school level. Although from the last few years, there has been some effort in this direction, India must seriously look into it like South Korea is currently implementing.

  1. What do you think is the future of robotics in India?

Robotics of course has a bright future in India, primarily for two reasons.
One is that the ability of Indians to adapt to any new technologies had always followed a hockey-stick curve. Just like in case of computers, internet and mobile devices, Indians will increasingly get used to robotics in the coming years.

The second reason is that there is a collective interest from the government, academia and IT organisation to explore and invest into the opportunities in robotics. This would create a favourable ecosystem in this country for robotics to grow. There is a huge possibility that situation can be further leveraged to promote the return of talents in this domain who is working in other countries at present.

Moreover, Indians are inherently good in maths even from the historical days. Robotics is one of the domains wherein the ability in mathematics would help to solve complex problems.

  1. What are some of the challenges with robotics in India?
As robotics is Multi-disciplinary, the developmental and manufacturing facilities required is much complicated and diversified compared to any other engineering products. 

Considering the prevailing scenario, to support the development, we need to import things right from raw materials, tools and sub finished assemblies from outside India. The import duty charged and the delay in processing documents are seriously affecting the development.

Another challenge we face is that the unawareness among the beneficiaries and general public about this technology. Due to this, the opportunities are not seen. Whereas robots are still seen as a threat to human community too. Hopefully this situation may change in a couple of years.

  1. There is growing speculation that robotics will eat up lot of human jobs in the near future. What do you have to say about that.

It has two aspects.
It is absolutely true that a technology like robotics will revolutionise the human employment. On the other hand, as technology overlap with human capabilities, being the most intelligent creature in the planet, we must adapt to the new circumstances to convert the challenge in to an opportunity.

It also true that technology has been always helping us to improve the quality of our life. The introduction or advancement of technology is not deliberate. it is always evolved to address difficult problems from time to time.

If we look back, we can see that computers and internet connectivity have already replaced hundreds of human resources. But the same time, they have created many new opportunities of employment directly and indirectly. They also help us in issues starting from billing in a cash counter, forecasting weather, addressing medical advancement and space exploration etc.

As population increase, we need the support of technology to increase the throughput away from conventional means.

I would say when robots are trying to become humans, we humans should not try to become robots by running after mundane tasks. We must try to become super humans by being more intelligent and creative.

  1. What is your specific robot about?

Asimov Robotics has recently developed and launched its human- like service robot Sayabot. The form-factor, appearance and behavior of Sayabot is similar to human beings.

Sayabot is a versatile robot that can be customized to perform tasks in various sectors such as hospitality, retail, healthcare, education and banking. With AI and a range of sensors collecting
information of the environment, Sayabot has the capabilities to work along-side human beings seamlessly.

In January this year, Sayabot was launched under the name of IRA (Intelligent Robot Assistant) for HDFC Bank. The robot is India’s first Banking Robot to be made completely in India.

As a banking robot, Sayabot provides assistance to customers visiting the bank. Currently, in the first phase rollout for HDFC bank, the robot performs tasks such as greeting the customers, providing information on the facilities available in the bank, guiding the customers and escorting the customers to various sections in the bank.

Further to this first launch, HDFC bank has announced that it will rollout 20 more robots in the next two years.

  1. How is it helping the society as whole?

Sayabot being a highly customisable robot, will be able to provide assistance in performing many day-to-day activities for which, we may find difficulty to identify skilled resources in the coming years due to demographics and disinterest.  

One of the main examples is giving care to disabled and elderly people. Almost one in seven people live with some form of disability and they depend on others. This dependency and lack of assistance lead to frustration.

Sayabot can be alongside with such people to give reliable and friendly assistance that compliments their disability. The services include 24x7 monitoring, dispensing medicines, patient engagement, support for walking and falling assistance, initiating crisis alert and enabling remote accessibility.

  1. Increasingly, robots are being taught to learn on their own. Comment on this.

Learning is an inevitable part of any front-facing and human co-operative robots. They need to customise their behaviour and responses in addressing a particular use case for which it is designated.

Such robots must also be able to continuously collect the data to be able to improve the and refine the responses by training their model that represent the physical world. The advancement of layered neural network and deep learning techniques made it possible for the robots to learn like human being while working with specific tasks.

But the decision making is not just limited to the parametric model based data correlation. It also contextual appropriateness depends on the priority, timing and capacity to do the task based on a self-understanding. It may also have to consider the social role, obligation and the morel values before making the final decision.

  1. According to recent reports, Indian army is planning to deploy robots to fight terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Do you think there will be more use of robotics in Defence in the coming years?

Robots are into defence applications for a while. They were mainly used to address two requirements such as surveillance and the handling of hazardous materials and objects.

In the recent times due to the due to the advancement in drone technology, lots of UAVs are deployed by the US army for bombing the enemy targets. Similarly, UGVs which are capable to direct confrontation with human beings are also under development.

However, due to the unpredictability and complexity of war scenarios, most of the defence robotics systems so far used are controlled from distance using “human in the loop” mode. They have limited autonomous capabilities to detect, tract, alert and send the real-time information back to the operator end.

Regarding the fighter robots, the ethics of human-robot confrontation is still topic of international debate.

Anyway, in case of terrorists, ethics may not be an issue to be considered. Whereas developing a robust system to survive in the extreme climatic conditions in Kashmir would be challenging task to address.

Shrey Kapoor is a Tech-Enthusiast, Harvard certified Cyber Security and Cyber Forensics Expert. He Founder, which is one of the India's Top Tech News Website. Even Forbes and many other renowned publishers took his articles reference. Shrey is a Technology analyst, strategic thinker and creative writer who is passionate to deliver the best, latest possible Tech-News to his followers and subscribers. He completed his masters in Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, certified in IPR, T.Q.M. & ISO 9001:2008 In Quality Management Systems.

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