Researchers and entrepreneurs are used to weighing the potential risks and rewards of any project they are thinking of putting time and money into. Potential financial investors — be they government policy advisors, members of grant committees, venture capitalists or angel investors — are no different. But in terms of viability, some projects, visionary and game-changing as they may be, are far from certain. Even if overwhelming technical hurdles are navigated successfully, there always remains the risk that the market will not be ready …
Surface Telerobotics – Terry Fong/NASA
Space mining – Kris Zacny/HoneyBee
DARPA robotics challenge – with G. Pratt, B. Gerkey
RoDyMan – Bruno Siciliano
Human Brain Project – Florian Röhrbein
Cultibotics – John Payne
euRathlon – Alan Winfield
Funding & Support:
Venture Capital – Dmitry Grishin
Tech transfer – Rich Mahoney
Tech transfer – Peter Seitz & Roland Siegwart
NSF Grants – Marc Rothenburg/NSF
Crowd-funding – Andra Keay/Robot LaunchPad
… and if even if the technology makes it successfully to market, leaders in innovation face potential legal and policy risks as their products enter a social arena that may be unprepared for the disruption. And yet it is the very challenge of overcoming the odds, and the thrill of achieving the near-impossible — of turning science fiction into science reality — that drives leaders and visionaries to take bold risks.
It has been well-observed that the field of robotics is at a tipping point, but many questions remain. Which of the promised game-changing technologies will succeed? Which will fail? How to best support these emerging, visionary initiatives? When is the best time to invest? And, perhaps most poignantly, can we afford to be left behind?
Over the next few weeks, Robohub will host a special focus on high-risk / high-reward robotics that will feature original articles and interviews from leading experts robotics and funding. A new article will be released every other day or so, so look out for our new Focus logo if you want to follow the series!
Our goal is to explore the potential benefits and risks of frontier robotics research, and the factors that lead to its ultimate success or failure. The series will look at the financial, legal, human, and business risks — and potential rewards — of some of the most innovative and visionary robotics initiatives currently under development. This will be complemented by a look at the various funding models (including venture capital, government grants and crowd-funding) available to high risk/ high reward researchers, and the effect of policy, law, and other social factors on a society’s ability to innovate.
We hope you enjoy this focus series … feedback is welcome, so send us your comments!