In 1954 George Devol invented the first digitally operated and a programmable robot called the Unimate. This industrial robot was a hydraulic manipulator arm used in a General Motors automobile factory in New Jersey to automate metalworking and welding processes.
Less than a century later, technology has come so far in the field of Robotics that we now have Pepper, the world’s first social humanoid robot. Pepper can recognize basic human emotions and faces and interacts with humans both through conversation and a touch screen. Over 2000 companies globally use Pepper to greet visitors in an exciting new way.
There is also Paro, a robot designed to look like a baby harp seal that provides animal therapy to patients in hospitals and long term care centres where the use of live animals may be prohibitive or logistically difficult. Paro acts like a live baby seal, making sounds and moving its arms and legs.
Hemanth Myneni has his Mechanical Engineering degree with a post-graduate certificate in Robotics and Advanced Automation from Sault College. Myneni is an international student from Pradesh, India. “I am interested in robotics and automation. So I did research about the courses related to that and I found Canada is the best option as it is a global leader in robotics,” says Myneni.
He adds, “The first industrial robot in the North America was used by Canada. Canadarm is the best example which shows Canada’s contribution in Robotics. The Canadian government promised $1.9 billion funding in this third generation of Canadarm to attract investors to invest in new robotics technologies.”
After obtaining his Mechanical Engineering degree, Myneni was attracted to robotics because of the limitless potential. “The current generation is based on technology and almost all the industries are concentrating on automation for manufacturing,” explains Myneni. He continues, “I was a bit worried before starting the course because it’s totally different than my under graduation work. But once I started the course, it really felt so simple and fun while playing with the Industrial Robots, which was all because of the support by professors.”
By gaining a valuable, hands-on learning experience students are able to apply their education to real-world solutions. “We had to make a project with our own ideas to complete the course. For this me and my friend Jaikishan Iyer came up with the idea of a Salad Making Robot. This gave us an opportunity to participate in various events like Sault Ste. Marie Science Festival, April 2019,” Myneni enthuses.
Because of its relatively new technology, the global job outlook in the field of robotics will only continue to grow. Myneni explains, “There are various career opportunities in Robotics some of them are Robotics Engineer, Robot technician, Robot programmer, Automation specialist, Robot welding technician, Robot cell designer, Robotics professor, etc.”
He continues, “Not only in Canada but also there is a huge demand for Robotics Engineers globally because of the advanced manufacturing technology. I think the work in the robotics field is so hard, but it will be fun, innovative and technological.”
Advancements in robotic technology can help industry become more competitive, in turn contributing to an increase in domestic and foreign sales and investments.
Robotics is helpful to maintain the better quality and high production of all kinds of products. Robots reduce the risk for humans by performing the hardest tasks; they can work 24/7 for 365 days a year.”
Robots can also be beneficial when it comes to safety and environmental issues. Perilous jobs that were once handled by humans can be safely sourced out to robots.
“Canada is familiar with manufacturing and mining sectors which have dangerous tasks to do. By using robots in these tasks it can reduce the accidents and increase the production of goods, thereby increasing revenue,” says Myneni.
Potential robotics students should have a good background in mathematics, electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science and design and technology. A good robotics engineer will be curious, flexible, able to work collaboratively, creative and an effective communicator.
Colleges across Canada are offering industry-led classes in robotics and mechatronics, utilizing the latest equipment and technologies to help their students become competitive in the global job market.
The field of robotics has come a long way. With imagination and a good foundation in the study of robotics, the sky is the limit. It will be interesting to see what comes next.
By Jackie Fritz