The new wave of robotic automation

Ask Peter Howard SM ’84, CEO of Realtime Robotics and MIT Sloan School of Management alumnus, what he thinks is the biggest bottleneck facing the robotics industry, and he’ll tell you without hesitation it’s return on investment. “Robotics automation is capable of handling almost any single task that a human can do, but the ROI is not compelling due to the high cost of deployment and the inability to achieve commensurate throughput,” he says.

But Realtime Robotics has developed a combination of proprietary software and hardware that reduces system deployment time by 70 percent or more, reduces deployment costs by 30 percent or more, and reduces the programming component of building a robotic system in the industrial robot space by upwards of 90 percent. In other words, Realtime Robotics is making robot adoption well worth the investment.

On some level, people are always planning — even the most spontaneous among us. We plan the day: breakfast, work, meeting, lunch, pick up the dry cleaning, etc. On a more intuitive level, that trip from your desk to the coffee machine and back requires many micro-decisions that get you from point A to point B without bumping into anything or anyone. In fact, we don’t stop making decisions that allow us to successfully navigate our physical environment until we fall asleep.

In the field of robotics, the computational process of moving a robot from one place to another in the optimal manner without collisions is called motion planning. For 30 years, it has been a thorn in the side of the industry, because successful motion planning is really about instilling robots with the capabilities (intelligence) to make their own decisions to achieve their goals. To be successful, it has to be done in real-time to accommodate variables that pop up in real-life situations. Furthermore, if a robot is going to work with other robots or people, its movements need to

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