Robotics Industry Today : Zero-in from IROS 2014

IROS 2014 (IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) is currently happening at Chicago, Illinois, Sep 14 to Sep 18 2014.

The event is primarily sponsored by the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society, the Robotics Society of Japan, the Society of Instrument and Control Engineers, the New Technology Foundation, and the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society.

From business side, this year's Gold sponsor is Microsoft.

The aim of this article is to explore what is the latest trend in the robotics industry, what researchers are up to and what consumers can expect out of the industry.

Looking at the keyword index of submitted papers, it is found that the followings are most popular subjects:
  • Biologically-Inspired Robots - the R & D of emulations of robots based on biological entities such as snakes
  • Computer Vision
  • Field Robots - outdoors challenges
  • Human-Robot Interaction
  • Localization - the R & D of effective, intelligent and autonomous methods for robots and applications to adapt to operating environment, with focus on costs and performance
  • Mechanism Design
  • Medical Robots and Systems
  • Motion and Path Planning
  • Motion Control
  • Robot Learning
  • Surgical Robotics
  • Unmanned Aeriel Systems

Based on the subjects listed above, it is quite clear that the industry is still focusing a lot of works into engineering research and exploration robotics.

Let's dwell deeper by focusing on health industry, it is found that the followings are areas of focus:
  • Prosthetic
  • Microsurgery, minimally invasive surgery with high accuracy and sensitivity
  • Surgical simulators and training platforms
  • 3D imagery and navigation
  • Automated surgery
  • Remote surgery
  • Kinematic optimization
  • Motion & path optimization
  • Automated diagnostic and analytics
  • Rehabilitation - exoskeleton system
  • Semi-automated and remote control
  • Haptic

Based on the list above, it is observed that research areas are focusing on medical surgery area - perhaps this is where the big money is for now.
Exoskeleton concept image

In terms of Medical Systems, Healthcare, and Assisted Living focus areas, the following subjects are the focus:
  • Rehabilitation - exoskeleton system
  • Prosthetic
  • Smart powered wheelchairs
  • Robotic arm

Therefore, it looks like exoskeleton system will be available to the market in the near future - for medical rehabilitation and military purposes.

Master of Science in Robotics

Northwestern (Evanston, IL 60208, USA) - which is launching a Master of Science in Robotics program this fall -- is a leader in robotics research, having developed new technologies for rehabilitation robotics, advanced prosthetics, brain-machine interfaces and other types of human-robot interaction. These technologies, for example, now help stroke patients recover their ability to walk and help people who are paralyzed from the neck down to use their own arms. Much of this work is done in collaboration with RIC.