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Making Dreams Come True: Robotics Frameworks Translate to Startup Success

Robotics Frameworks Translate to Startup Success

Almost every robotic company starts with just a handful of engineers and an idea.

Lucky for them, they’ve discovered an urgent market need and have the brainpower, capability, and drive to make it happen. But, this brilliant yet urgent idea needs to be sketched, tested, verified, and implemented in the shortest time frame possible. When dealing with a simple prototype, made up of off-the-shelf components and objects lying around your lab (or garage), you need something simple and proven for your first prototype.

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While some organizations begin with advanced no-code / low-code robotics operating system tools, ROS can bring an idea to an up-and-running robot relatively quickly.

Thanks to a software repository, which was filled with software that were created and shared by developers, you can grab a depth cam, strap on a LiDAR, secure it on a skateboard, control it with a raspberry pi and an Arduino, download a ROS-enabled mapping node, open Rviz, and there you have it– assurance that your brilliant idea may see the market one day. Your first demo (loud crowd cheers in the background).

Yet, as your team grows, attempts at new features demand more periphery projects and expenses in order to support the core team. Integrations, remote operations, balancing various calibration parameters, cloud connectivity, and more began putting greater weight on development teams– all before you even begin the development of your brilliant idea’s Intellectual Property.

Minor things that only slightly derailed from the original task, grew enough for investors to take notice.

Key questions for every robotics company

As many of us have learned over the years, developing a platform takes time. As your team grows, team members change, standards become critical, tools are needed, and a greater strain is put on all parts of the organization.

This is where setting a focus at an earlier stage begins to pay dividends.

Maintaining focus within a robotic company, demands that two questions need to be answered. They are the same for both the hardware and the software aspects of robotics.

Question 1: What is at the core of your product?

Many tools and frameworks are needed to develop robots. The more time and resources a company spends on its own IP, the better return they will see on their investment.

In a competitive market, companies differentiate themselves by excelling at their core innovative features.
Wasting time with in-house development of tools that are already available to them, either for free or through licensing, works against them as they get bogged down with bloated buggy software as they try to reach an ever-evolving market.

Question 2: How is the company’s technical debt handled? 

When deciding to develop an internal solution, or opting to use a simpler one, technical debt is induced.

Technical debt is the ability of a robotics frameworks company to develop that same solution at any given time and integrate it within their software stack.

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Let’s take for example a robotic company with a prototype and 3 founders.

Luckily, their robot met the market need and they are preparing to support deployment and production at large scales. All robotic companies will need to develop tools for remote access, updates, data profiling, permission management, and much more. Suddenly, tools that weren’t needed in the prototype, POC, or small-scale deployments are now critical as distribution scales up.

By taking advantage of emerging robotics frameworks, which allow for drag n’ drop or low-code programming, risks can be mitigated and the core team can get straight to the heart of the IP they initially set out to develop. With some of these frameworks being community-driven, companies gain the flexibility of a community-oriented, commercially supported code that enables them to integrate cutting-edge services without the risk of getting stuck behind.

Don’t ruin hard work by skimping on testing and deployment

Beware, not all robotics frameworks are created equal.

Relying on ROS or any other architecture that enables you to quickly prototype and implement your ideas is a great start. Yet, as your company grows and the development stage is completed, be sure to deploy, test, and package it using only state-of-the-art tools. Do not reinvent your own tools for that.

Empower teams to begin developing their IP right from launch. Keep your development team focused on the things that differentiate your company from your competitors by staying honed in on how your robot will excel at its task.

In today’s market, it’s not enough to only have the best robotics frameworks technology, but to deliver it reliably and on time.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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