Analytics India Magazine featured Amol Gulhane to understand more about the research and robotics sectors in general. Amol discussed robots, their current state, and forecasts for the future.
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AIM: Who or what inspired your interest in pursuing a career in robotics? How did Robolab Technologies happen?
Amol Gulhane: Robolab Technologies came into existence out of the rigorous efforts of its founders as an attempt to transform the educational facilities in the country, provide an innovative platform to the students to show their skills and implement their ideas and create employment for the youth. Instead of taking up lucrative jobs, the founders chose to start a company. Having worked in robotics for four years of their engineering and being associated with the Robotics and Automation Laboratory – Robot Study Circle in COEP, Robolab Technologies was bound to happen.
Having worked on a variety of projects, participating in various types of competitions and securing laurels for the Alma Mater at all levels, the founders decided to continue with the same zeal and impart the knowledge to the newcomers and other students. The idea was finalised when they came across a survey which showed the laggardness in the “Research and Development Facilities and Centers of Excellence in India”. The team Robolab embarked on a journey to address the problem and provide a better Center of Excellence Platform. Our vision is to take technologies to the masses.
AIM: As a “National Entrepreneurship Award Winner” and “Young Super Achievers of 30 under 30 Entrepreneurs” in the robotics industry, what drove you towards Robolab Technologies?
Amol Gulhane: We could achieve those prestigious awards because we chose to work on the startup idea of taking technologies to the masses. Support and mentoring from our mentors Sanjay Inamdar, CoFounder of Bhau Institute of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Leadership, the incubation centre of College of Engineering, Pune, was monumental in our journey. The thought of spending time with my best friends while contributing to society and the cause drove me towards Robolab Technologies.
AIM: From volunteering in robotics events to co-founding a robotics company, how does this transition happen?
Amol Gulhane: The seeds of the thought of contributing to the robotics space were sown in the initial years. As we moved to various roles during the formative years, we got various experiences and domain knowledge. This gave us unique opportunities to learn from a variety of people.
During these years, we co-founders spent a lot of time together discussing various aspects of technology, business and how we wanted to contribute to the cause. It is during such discussions; we focused on “Taking technologies to the masses”. And from there, we could draw a logical roadmap to achieve the same.
AIM: As a first-generation entrepreneur, you would have encountered and conquered numerous hurdles along the journey. Could you perhaps share one of those fascinating challenges with us?
The following are the challenges.
Finding the right talent:
The biggest asset for any organisation is its human resource. Finding the right talents who can share the same passion and nurture them to prepare for future roles is also equally important for organisational success.
Know how money flows:
The core team of Robolab consists mostly of engineers. So, it took us some hard efforts to really understand how the money flows. Knowing the regular profit and loss statement of the business is not enough.
Perception about Robotics and Robotics Lab.
Many schools and colleges have purchased some toys and kits and have put them in the room, which is open only for visitors and guests, and they call it their Robotics Lab. It took us some time to show what an actual Robotics and Automation Lab looks like and what kind of work we can do at such a vibrant place.
Even though everyone we meet likes the idea of having the Robolab Center of Excellence at their campus, the final decision takes some time which could have been properly utilised for the enhanced learning experience for the students.
AIM: What, in your opinion, are the most important robotics concerns that require attention right now?
Amol Gulhane: The following requires immediate concern:
- Ethical dilemma faced while making something autonomous and automated
- Safety and security concerns
- E-waste management and disposal
AIM: Are there any significant obstacles that Indian robotics businesses are currently facing, in your opinion?
Amol Gulhane: We have interacted with a lot of Robotics and Emerging Technology startups and companies. A common floor for everyone to share and discuss ideas and issues is missing.
We should form a consortium of active robotics industries, which will act as a support and guiding light on how to take the companies to new heights. We need a revolution in the way companies to innovate, collaborate and grow together.
AIM: Are there sufficient robotics researchers and companies in India? Is India currently falling behind the rest of the world in terms of robotics research?
Amol Gulhane: Core robotics research companies are few, but many edtech companies are flourishing and expanding in India. I sincerely feel the need of having core robotics companies in India focused on both applied and basic research areas.
In terms of research, I sincerely feel we have a long way to go. The intent and approach are visible in both industries and academia.
AIM: Who are your role models?
Amol Gulhane: My role models are from various sectors and domains. I tend to draw a lot of strength and energy looking at the work these legends have done previously and are currently doing.
Isaac Asimov, Father of Robotics
Richard Feynman, Teacher, Theoretical Physicist
Walter Lewin, Teacher
Dr A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, Teacher
Ratan Tata, Industrialist
Elon Musk, Entrepreneur
AIM: Which books on robotics are your favourites?
Amol Gulhane: There are many Science Fiction books that are of interest to me, especially those which are written by Isaac Asimov, who is referred to as the Father of Robotics.
AIM: As a young co-founder in the robotics industry, what advice would you provide to anyone considering a career in robotics?
Amol Gulhane: Being a startup leader requires you to wear multiple hats and have functional knowledge of various domains. Also, you must be adaptable according to the needs of the organisation. One should learn to observe and analyse the situation from a different non-attached perspective.
As famously said by Brett Lee, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water into a teapot, it becomes a teapot. Water can drip, and it can crash. Become like water, my friend.”
The above is apt in both personal as well as professional lives. We can aspire to be better versions of ourselves by pushing the limits and crossing the boundaries.