Silicon Valley is at the center of the perfect storm of robotics.
It’s at the center of the talent, the investment and the research, the center of the software and hardware industries — all key ecosystem components to build the robotics companies that need to rise to serve the world’s future.
But the event horizon to make that happen is something that needs to be considered in terms of decades, not the typical start-up timelines of a few months to a few years, according to Andra Keay. Keay is managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, and one of the panelists in this upcoming webinar that will be shedding light on what businesses need to know now to take advantage of the evolution that’s reaching a tipping point.
“Robotics moves slowly but it’s been around a long time,” she says. “The industry has done a great job over the last 50 years of helping us to envision what uses we could make of robots and what that could mean to the quality of our life and our economy. Yet, few of those promises have yet been met.”
The problem, according to Keay is that our expectation of robotics has been inflated.
“We did it wrong. We’ve created this situation where we look at robots as humanoid,” Keay says. “There’s no way that robots have anything like the capability of a person. It’s just absolutely impossible in this century for a robot to replace a human in anything.”
That’s not to say that robotics technology isn’t already very much a part of our lives, or that now isn’t the right time for the industry to become more established and scale.
“Five years ago in the industry we said, OK, the time is right,” Keay says. “It’s clear that robotics is at a point where it’s time to move into new areas. Out of industry, out of research labs, into the service industry and into the home.”
Robotics technologies are well engrained in certain industries, like automotive. It’s just that, for the average person, it doesn’t feel like something that’s particularly close to home. For this reason, it’s easy for people to dismiss robotics as science fiction because it seems so far away and the tipping point moments so elusive.
Understanding what that future may actually look like comes back to understanding the technological and economic drivers that are making robotics peek right now.
Don’t miss out! Learn more about Andra Keay’s vision for the future of robotics by tuning-in for the webinar “How robotics will change everything, including your business.”
“In many cases it will be taking this ubiquitous connectivity that mobility computing delivers and making a gradual transition to products that are just that much more powerful and versatile,” Keay says. “It’s not going to be a disruption, but once in a while one of those devices will change in how we use it and that will lead to other changes. I think that, with time, robotics will account for the same kind of seismic shift that the internet and computers had in the 20th century.”
One popular belief is that the growth of robotic technology will inevitably equate to the loss of human jobs. But Keay says there is good reason to believe that the opposite will be true.
“Everywhere I look there are industries that have increased the number of robots that they employ. They’ve also increased the number of people that they employ,” she says. “An exciting vision of the future is that of the skilled mobile tradesperson. They’ll still drive a pickup or an SUV but instead of a leaf blower, or a power tool, they’re working with smarter tools that are used in applications to take care of robots.”
Keay sees a correlation between this future of robot builders and technicians and the opportunity to create small, regional pockets of highly-specialized, entrepreneurial manufacturers and service providers of a variety of stripes to support niche industrial and commercial requirements for robotic technology. “Robots increase the number of jobs that are needed and they also increase the productivity of a company that allow it to expand and create even more jobs,” she says. “That will create opportunities for a new class of entrepreneurs.”
Ultimately, the future of robotic technology means creating machines that augment, not replace, humans and socializing the idea that people can work with robots in an integrated fashion.
“Some of those fences are starting to come down as computing power and intelligent algorithms lead us to a better understanding of how people can work alongside robots,” Keay says. “To make a significant impact on our economy, we need to build a lot of robots because there are not that many out there today.”
“People need to build them and people need to maintain them and the only way we can do that is to create opportunities for the industry to grow in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.”
What you’ll learn:
The key consumer and commercial applications of robots and drones
The role robots will play in societies and economies
How smartphone technologies will pave the way to robotics’ future
How cognitive technologies will transform our lives and business
The foundation of many IoT applications in shaping the way to robotics
Jim McGregor, Principal Analyst, Tirias Research Andra Keay, Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics Anthony Lewis, Senior Director of Technology, Qualcomm Maged Zaki, Director of Technical Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.