In this tech-driven world, robots are becoming increasingly integrated into our lives.
This statistic alone shows the worth of this field and the high demand for robotics engineers who are the masterminds behind these machines. They bring mechanical dreams to life by using their programming, electrical, and problem-solving skills.
This article explains everything you need to know about robotics engineering to help you determine whether it is the right career path for you.
What is a robotics engineer?
Robotics engineers are skilled professionals. They design, create, operate, maintain, and repair robots or automated systems.
They use principles from computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering to form robots. These robots perform both human and inhuman tasks.
Their goal is to make human lives easier and enhance productivity. They achieve this by creating machines that use fewer resources and less time.
From the self-driving cars moving on roads to the robotic arms that help in surgeries, all their innovations have transformed the way we work and live.
As we move forward, the contributions of robotics engineers will shape a future where humans and robots coexist harmoniously, increasing the overall quality of life.
What does a robotics engineer do?
They have a range of responsibilities, including:
Design and development: They design a complete robotic system that is both efficient and functional. It includes:
- Designing the robot’s physical structure
- Selecting appropriate materials to optimise performance
- Carefully managing the project’s budget to ensure cost-effectiveness
Software development: They craft the algorithms and software to make robots intelligent enough to perform assigned tasks efficiently.
Electrical engineering: Robots need electronic systems to operate. These systems consist of various components, including:
- Sensors – help them perceive their surroundings
- Electrical circuitry – control their movement and functions
- Power systems – provide a source of electricity
- Communication interfaces – connect them with other robots or operators
Research and development: Robotics is a rapidly evolving field. Engineers are always looking for ways to innovate and improve existing technologies. It helps them enhance the adaptability, efficiency, intelligence and safety of robots.
Testing and troubleshooting: A robotics engineer’s role is beyond designing and creating a robot. They test their software and the system in different scenarios to ensure robots perform as intended. They look for technical problems in existing robots and rectify them, ensuring reliability.
Integration: A robot is more than just its parts. Engineers combine different elements of a robot, such as its mechanical, electrical, and software components, to create an operational system. Successful integration is essential for unlocking the full potential of a robot.
Maintenance: Like any other machine, robots also require proper care and maintenance. Neglecting these responsibilities can lead to costly consequences for engineers. That is why they regularly update software and repair it when needed. It ensures they retain their functionality and even get better over time.
Collaboration: Engineers form a team of multiple members, each performing a specific task for the project. They all collaborate with each other to ensure all aspects of the robot, including its design, functionality, movement, etc., are top-notch.
Consultation: Today, more than 3.4 million industrial robots are performing various tasks in industries globally. Many industries are keen to integrate robots. Engineers provide them with the guidance they need. They help them understand how they can incorporate robots into their operations in the best possible way.
Training: As the usage of robots increases with time, it becomes essential to make people understand how to operate robots safely to make the most out of them. Therefore, engineers educate others, ensuring effective robot usage.
Documentation: They create detailed manuals and guides to preserve knowledge for future use. Documentation helps operators learn about the robot’s functions, maintenance procedures, and troubleshooting steps.
Safety compliance: Safety in robotics is a fundamental concern. Engineers adhere to safety standards to protect both users and the environment when designing robotic solutions.
- Implementing safety protocols
- Risk assessments
- Protective measures to diminish potential risks
What tools and techniques do robotics engineers use?
Robotics engineers use many tools and techniques to design, develop, test, and maintain robots. Common examples of these tools are:
- CAD (Computer-aided design)
- Simulation Software
- Prototyping Boards
- Kinematics and dynamics techniques
- Machine learning and AI techniques
What skills do robotics engineers have?
There are various types of robotics engineers, such as robotics system engineers, robotics software engineers, etc. Each of these roles requires a unique set of skills and knowledge.
However, here are the basic skills that a robotics engineer must have.
Programming: Robotics engineers need to be proficient in programming to design, develop, and test robotic systems. They must have knowledge of C++, Python, Java, algorithms, and ROS (Robot Operating System).
Electrical skills: Engineers must understand basic electronic tools such as circuits, sensors, actuators, oscilloscopes, multimeters, and microcontrollers. They should also know how to design circuits, understand signal processing, and work with different systems.
Mechanical Design: They should be able to use CAD tools like Fusion 360. It allows them to design the entire structure of a robot and assemble its physical components to craft a functioning structure. They should have the knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes to design durable robots.
Mathematics: Robotics relies greatly on mathematics, especially linear algebra, calculus, and statistics. Engineers should have an understanding of complex mathematics topics that they can use to develop algorithms for various functions related to robots.
Physics: They should have a deeper understanding of the principles of physics. They will need to use them when designing robot mechanisms and movement strategies.
Soft skills: Robotics is a field where engineers face various challenges every other day. They can tackle all these challenges and create a healthy work environment if they possess basic soft skills.
In order to succeed in this field, they need to have at least problem-solving, decision-making, and communication skills. These skills will help them share ideas efficiently, listen attentively to others, make informed decisions, and devise timely solutions.
How to become a robotics engineer?
Enrol in a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as robotics, mechanical, or electrical engineering. Try to get hands-on experience.
You can do this by joining robotics clubs, doing internships, and participating in competitions. Attend seminars, conferences, and workshops to increase your knowledge and connect with people with the same interests.
Enrol in relevant courses to learn new skills. Build a portfolio to showcase your expertise to your potential employers.
Now that you have gained both knowledge and experience, it is time to start job hunting. Start with entry-level jobs. Keep learning even after landing a job to sharpen your existing skills and learn new things with time.
How much do robotics engineers make in the US?
Robotics engineering is one of the high-paying jobs in the world. According to Glassdoor data, the average annual salary of a robotics engineer is $104,046, consisting of $96,749 base pay and $7,296 additional pay.
Know that your salary may vary from the mentioned value. It is because it depends on various factors. Examples of these factors are your work experience, expertise, qualification, organisation size, and industry type.
What is the day in the life of a robotics engineer?
A day in the life of robotics engineers can vary depending on the specific project they are currently working on.
They are generally found in either labs or offices. When in the office, they design, research, or write codes. However, when in the lab, they primarily work on testing robotic systems, assembling robot parts, etc.
Are robotics engineers in demand?
Yes, robotics engineers are in high demand. With the increasing integration of AI in industries, the need for skilled robotics engineers is increasing with time.
Can computer engineers become robotics engineers?
Yes, they can. They have enough knowledge about the hardware and software aspects of technology. With additional training in robotics-specific areas, they can shift their role.
What is the job outlook for robotics engineers?
The job outlook for robotics engineers is positive. Industries continue to integrate more and more robotics solutions into their systems, Hence, the need for experts in the industry increases.
Some sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, space exploration, and agriculture now rely on robotics ever more, creating more job opportunities.
How long does it take to be a robotics engineer?
Becoming a robotics engineer requires a four-year bachelor’s degree. However, if you go for advanced degrees, it can take you two to five years more. Additionally, gaining practical experience through entry-level positions can increase the time it takes to reach a specific goal.
Summing it up
As technology continues to evolve, the role of robotics engineers becomes even more important in shaping our future. These professionals possess software, electrical, and mechanical engineering skills that they use to make human lives easier and more productive.
If you have a passion for technology and robots, this career might be the right choice for you.