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By 2020 the global robotics market will reach $400 billion! You should think about investing in robotics

Illustration image (123rf)
Illustration image (123rf)

The robotics industry will get significantly stronger in the near future: According to assessments, by 2020 the global robotics market will be worth $400 billion, compared to $30 billion today.

As proof we can look at Google’s latest activities, for example, and the way the company stormed into the industry and acquired no less than eight robotics companies. The Chinese computer parts manufacturer FOXCONN also plans to integrate a million robots into its production lines within three years.

These assessments were made by Professor Tzvi Schiller, Chairman of the Israeli Robotics Union and a member of the Ariel University Department of Engineering, during a robotics innovation conference. Professor Schiller: “As we advance toward 2020 there will be a robot in every house, in every car, every farmer will have them, every hospital operation room will feature robots, every disabled person will be assisted by robots, as will every soldier in the army. The advancement of robotics is of strategic importance, since it brings youth closer to technologcial education and presents solutions usable in the war against terror and for the advancement of traditional industry.”

Dr. David Zarrouk from Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, in his address, presented a facinating future in which man-made robots are inspired by nature: Research into lizard movement, for example, showed that the animal can move very quickly forward, backward and to the sides. When it feels threatened by a predator it uses its tail to increase its movement speed and escape. A tiny, 10 centimeter-long robot was built, capable of moving to the sides, and when a tail was added the tiny robot’s movement capabilities were enhanced – exactly like a lizard.

iHLS – Israel Homeland Security

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Dr. Zarrouk also mentioned the importance of mechanics when building robots. People develop electronic systems while neglecting basic mechanics. The Americans, for example, sent a probe to Mars – but the vehicle got stuck in the sand. It took immense effort to get it out since it didn’t have a basic mechanical arm. The same with the nuclear disaster in Japan – they sent robots into the ruined reactor, but the robots lacked even a simple mechanism for turning valves. The most advanced robot can’t function without proper mechanical tools.

Dr. Noa Agmon, from Bar Ilan University’s Computer Science Department, is researching robotic behavior in hostile environments, known as adversarial robotics. A real-life example: Three robots are patrolling the Ben Gurion Airport perimeter. Their algorithms lead them along a predetermined, well-calculated route designed to prevent infiltrations. They cover the entire area and reach specific locations once every few minutes. When there’s an infiltration attempt, however, the infiltrators can study the robots’ behavior – the mechanical guards have to utilize algorithms that would prevent infiltrators from learning their routine.

Another issue is movement in formation. The future of robots and unmanned vehicles, as far as it concerns security, is working in groups, cooperating. Robots have to maintain connectivity between them while moving, but what happens when an enemy tries to damage them and disrupt their movement? How will the robots survive? The solution is algorithms for maintaining formations while moving. When it comes to overcoming these challenges, concluded Dr. Agmon, there are developments and innovations but they’re all still at a very early stage.