With the manufacturing industry undergoing significant transformation over the past few years amidst Industry 4.0, the number of firms introducing robots into operations is on the rise.
Chris Quick is the Founder and CEO of RealBotics and has been with the organisation since beginning the venture in 2015. “I decided when I was fairly young that I wanted to start a robotics company because it was a field that brought together a number of things I enjoy,” he explains. “Later, I attended engineering school and just kept taking classes until I felt like I had everything I needed to design and build robotics projects. After college I spent around seven years working for Alcoa as their automation engineer where I really learned first-hand the shortcomings and market needs for robotics and automation technology. Finally, I left Alcoa and founded RealBotics to improve robotics and automation to better address the market’s needs.”
RealBotics builds devices, software applications, and complete remote control/tele-operated systems to meet your specific commercial needs. The RealBotics platform has been designed from the ground up to work with any type of hardware, robot brand, or equipment. The platform offers a set of tools and options that can be selected for each specific use case. Tools and options include live low-latency video, stereo video, multiple camera feeds, augmented reality, and computer vision/image processing. Quick explains how his organisation’s solution works. “A client brings a robot or piece of equipment to RealBotics with a need to remotely interact with it. RealBotics will provide the technology and any required engineering to attach the device to the platform,” says Quick. “From there, the client uses the RealBotics platform customized to their specific needs to achieve their remote-control goals. We charge time and materials for engineering works and a customized fee for access to the RealBotics platform.”
Quick has observed first-hand an increase in the adoption of robotics automation for small and midsized manufacturers. “We’ve witnessed massive improvements in machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to solve challenging problems that were not feasible several years ago,” explains Quick. “There have been many improvements to robotic guidance and motion control, image classification and processing, and voice processing.” With the importance of operating with a proactive and agile approach in the market vital, Quick stresses the importance of innovation to manufacturers such as RealBotics. “With the pace of innovation and technology development today, being proactive and agile is the difference between success and failure,” he affirms. “We like to think we are working to create a new trend instead of responding to one.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic having a significant impact on industries across the world, Quick notes just how vital remote technology has been to overcoming the disruption. “It’s minimised the time and effort RealBotics needs to spend explaining the idea and use cases. It allows us to focus on development of the technology and its application to solve customer challenges. Specifically, in the manufacturing industry, our clients need to continue production while keeping workers safe. In simple situations, this entails social distancing, and additional PPE but in many situations factory floor layouts and equipment have not been designed to meet these requirements. Using a technology like RealBotics, can help in many of these situations.”
However, Quick acknowledges the pandemic has been challenging for his firm. “One challenge in this case is getting the outside automation expertise needed to support these efforts. RealBotics has been able to provide industrial automation design, engineering, troubleshooting, and install expertise virtually for our clients during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he explains. “The pandemic also caused RealBotics to lose business from clients that have been forced to put projects on-hold. We’ve dealt with these surprise interruptions by quickly identifying the new challenges and gaps created by the pandemic and adapting our technology to provide solutions. One example of the success of our changes is the signing of a new client in a completely new vertical for us, media creation. I can’t share the details yet but keep an eye out for a great example of the power of RealBotics in this new market toward the end of the year.”
Looking to the future, Quick hopes to continue to leverage robotics to improve efficiency in everyday life. “My hope is that as a civilization we continue to apply robotics and technology in a way that improves our health, relationships, and overall quality of life. For me, that means creating robotics technology that optimises our time so we can do the things we enjoy and that improves our overall output and capabilities,” explains Quick. “We hope to bring our technology to market and demonstrate its power in a few different verticals. Over the next year, we hope to demonstrate how RealBotics can assist humans in dealing with challenges like COVID-19 by providing a powerful and generic telerobotics platform.”