The field of robotics design is advancing quickly, and the possibilities for the future are exciting, albeit not without its share of challenges.
Innovations in Robotics
Though industrial robotics have been around for decades, advances in robotic programming, design and construction have opened applications in less obvious areas. Robots are showing up in applications as varied as the military to surgical robotics to robots that will vacuum your house.
Recent advances include a bomb-defusing robot. RE2 Robotics is in the second development phase of an Underwater Dual Manipulator system that will dismantle explosives underwater for the US Navy. Once complete, the revolutionary robotic arm will be able to go where other bomb robots cannot reach, such as under bridges or piers, and it will be controlled remotely from dry land. The system’s applications may even extend beyond bomb disposal in the future, such as providing repairs for offshore oil and gas rigs.
Another cutting-edge innovation is the robotic bat named B2 that mimics the primary flight characteristics of real bats. B2’s advanced design, which is the brainchild of researchers at the University of Illinois and Caltech, has the potential to be the first thorough methodology for reverse engineering of the complex flight mechanism of bats. The bat-inspired aerial robot will be more energy efficient than existing aerial robots. Its possible applications include supervising construction sites and performing tasks in places people cannot go, such as inspecting Fukushima nuclear radiators that have dangerous radiation levels for humans.
Challenges to Widespread Application
These amazing, novel designs, though, present design challenges that are common to even the oldest robotic applications. First, the range of motion and articulation can cause sealing problems. Combined with the EMI shielding challenges that the onboard electronics require, this can present quite the engineering task.
Further, many of the new robotic systems are much more modular and compact, allowing for easily piecing together components to achieve the ultimate functional goal. Modular and compact systems can be much more difficult to seal and shield, and can become a mechanical engineering nightmare fairly quickly.
Finally, the quest for better batteries is a challenge facing the industry, but one in which progress is occurring in leaps and bounds.
Looking to the Future of Robotics
The market for robotics will develop more smoothly by tackling the above-noted barriers rather than avoiding them. The next five years will see more companies emerging to find solutions to the difficult issues of industrial automation, predicts WT VOX. However, having the knowledge and insights to provide viable fixes is complex, and it will require robotic designs that are reliable and repeatable.
At Vanguard, we have a good deal of experience in the robotics industry. Vanguard’s expertise in sealing and EMI shielding make us uniquely positioned to work closely with companies developing robotic systems.