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Robots Are No Threat But An Aide To Support Production

Robotics, Drones, UAV3 min read

Kanishka Vardhan.jpg

Meet kanishka Vardhan

CTO | Robotics | Aviation @ Sagar Defence Engineering

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India 

Kanishka is the former CTO of Sagar Defence Engineering, a robotics systems manufacturer from Mumbai.

The company is a supplier of military-grade Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for several government agencies.

He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and his keen interest in mobile robots has led him to develop and work upon various projects on drones, computer vision, and machine learning.

Describe the moment you decide to study Robotics?

I remember stumbling across some material online about robotics when I was in my 3rd year of engineering.

The video showed how you could use open source components to create robots like manipulators, hexapods, and UAVs.

A week later I received my first Arduino and I started to think of what I could do with it.

Coming from a mechanical engineering background, I had almost no knowledge about programming, let alone robotics.

So, I scraped the web for robotics courses and started learning whatever I could find.

It was initially very daunting to think like a computer scientist at first, so for a little ease of use, I started learning Python and eventually started reading and tweaking as much code as I can be written by other people to understand the logic.

I also started to translate robotics math into code just to see how it works in real-time and visualizing it in Processing.

I really felt motivated to pursue this field after making my first project, which was a gesture-controlled arm made using an Arduino Uno, ADXL345 accelerometer and servo motors.

As my graduation project, I made a 3-axis stabilizer much like the gimbal stabilizers used for cinematography using IMU and servomotors.

The biggest achievement for me during these projects was not their complexity but the fact that I avoided the use of any external libraries and wrote my code from scratch.

What is your goal with your studies in Robotics?

I began my journey in robotics by learning the dynamics of industrial manipulators.

For a thorough understanding of how they are applied in the modern-day factories, I completed an advanced course by KUKA robotics for programming them.

My focus shifted to Mobile Robotics after college and I have worked in that field to date.

My goal is to make robots that have a positive tangible impact on our lives. 

There are any Robotics projects that want to share your experience with us?

I have worked extensively on software and hardware optimization for UAVs in the past few years.

These have involved path planning, swarming and implementation of computer vision and machine learning capabilities on GPU and non-GPU aerial platforms.

The products developed have been inducted in the armed forces as well put to use in several industrial and government organizations.

In university, I have worked with industrial manipulators and gait generation for walking robots.

Can you mention some areas that robotics can be applied?

The use cases of robotics are all around us.

From self-driving cars to real-time surveillance and from last-mile deliveries to taking care of the elderly, robotics will continue to find use to automate several repetitive and high-risk tasks.

I come from India where agriculture is a source of income for a large proportion of the population.

By making robotics more affordable, the farmers can benefit by using drones to monitor their crop health as well as use them to spray pesticides on their crops.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years as a roboticist?

As I said, robotics for me is a way to enhance the quality of human life.

I believe that this field should not be looked upon as a threat to jobs but merely as an aide to support production and optimize the manufacturing capabilities of the industry.

I understand that this may require the upskilling of the workforce to use these new tools but I feel its only natural to gain new skills to match the Industry 4.0 standards.

In this day and age of IoT, I would also like to explore more into connected robots over long distances and their implementation for market use.

In the near future, I see myself as a tinkerer who would enjoy building new things and educating the people about the benefits of robotics and automation.

How can robots be useful to help fight the spread of a deadly outbreak?

Robots can be used for routine sanitization of hazardous environments.

This mitigates the risk of any personnel getting an infection by carrying out the same task.

Aerial Drones have already been conducting last-mile deliveries.

This platform can be utilized to transport essential medical supplies like vaccines, tests and blood samples on short notice in urban and rural areas.

Will Robots replace air pilots' on commercial flights?

No, not in the near future. I view a human as a mix of rational and irrational decision-makers.

We might consider all the boundary conditions that might occur, but irrationality is something we cannot program and it is this uncertainty that sometimes saves lives.

So, I believe airline pilot replacement is a long way to go.