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Mechanical Engineering and Robotics

I'm interested in robotics and currently studying mechanical engineering. From what I see, the new developments in robotics seem to be mainly in control. Electrical and computer science engineers seem to be using AI and improved sensors to make robot movement more precise and intelligent. What part does a mechanical engineer have in the robotics field, as it seems much of robotics is developing new algorithms for already existing mechanical robots. Do mechanical engineers in robotics only maintain the robots, or is demand for new robot designs still strong enough to warrant novel mechanical work?

How much crossover is there between the mechanical and control sides of robotics? I enjoy scripting, but not low-level optimization work required for robotics processors. How much programming and electrical engineering does a roboticist/mechatronics mechanical engineer do?

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G. Mark’s Answer

Universities offer courses specifically in robotics itself as an adjunct to other computer and engineering majors. Carnegie Mellon, Wayne State, University of Michigan, Berkeley and Stanford have large robotics schools and labs that are very impressive. From what I've seen, you're right. Making robots more precise in their actions is always a priority. And Artificial Intelligence is being used to augment their operations and control. I see research in various configurations of robots and different types of locomotion, flexibility, applications, etc.. But a large part is making robots fit into the human environment and learn, essentially, to work with humans without being a danger and without having to be meticulously and tediously programmed. AI, and specifically Machine Learning, and a bit of Deep Learning, are being used to create robots that can adapt to new situations and learn like people do. There are open-source applications, like, for instance, Tensor Flow, that allow anyone to get and use an ML platform to experiment with this. It is one of the very hot technologies, which also include Big Data, which enables AI and specifically ML and DL, and Internet of Things. This latter science is a big and expanding fields and, like the others, readily available to average people and very inexpensive. This sort of thing makes it a rich area for any university to make available to all of the students but also makes for a rich market for research investment. And correspondingly, a rich area for employment. This means that you're making a very wise, potentially lucrative, but more importantly an enjoyable and rewarding area to contribute innovations and Intellectual Property to help solve world problems. Go for it.

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