Advancement in Mobile Robotics has gone through a torturous path of seeking applications, which has seen interestingly complex robots maneuver at slow speeds due to their complex intelligence in sensory ability and navigation. DARPA, the United States of America arm of research and development in Robotics has wowed us with very interesting insights in development and application of the intelligent mobile machines, with present focus on walking robots, which can be used in hazardous environments. Yet, the field seemed like it was constantly in a state of only research.
In 2005 when the DARPA autonomous vehicle challenge, with a prize of $2,000,000 was embarked upon, it ushered a new era of research bringing in the ideas of private sector participation, many lessons learnt for the participants, with many going on to become competitors in the field today, such as TORC robotics who just signed an agreement with Daimler for the development of autonomous trucks. Still a lot of work was needed to really break the invisible line separating research and application/deployment which would establish a permanent signature of mobile robotics in our everyday world.
Fast forward a few years and the very notion of our cars, driving themselves, and being termed “driver less vehicles” simply means “Robotic Cars”, the former just being used for the general population who believe anything associated with robots means taking over the world.
Companies like Tesla, Waymo, Torc Robotics, and Zoox are at the forefront of the development, with Tesla primed to be the first to easily deploy with its currently existing infrastructure ensuring it can readily deploy its solution, with just a simple software update to its line of electric cars, in most continents of the world. The beauty inherent in the Robotic cars, is that they have opened up capabilities in mobile robotic navigation which can be deployed at extremely high speeds and still be functional with data collection and navigation. They are pushing the boundaries of the ability of mobile Robotics in other areas and applications which will no doubt lead to massive improvements in many future endeavours.
What does the future hold for mobile Robotics? it holds a great things to be imagined, lets hope our “driverless Cars” agree with us on this…….