How to find an idea for a startup in robotics?


Having gone from amateur plywood computers to 14nm single-board computers the size of a flash drive, the computer industry has given impetus to the powerful technological development of mankind. At the same time, we all witnessed how large-scale phenomena are happening in front of our eyes in real time, including the development of the Internet, astronautics and robotics.
Compared to the field of Internet entrepreneurship, the development of non-industrial robotics is at the very beginning of its path. We can assume that now among those enthusiasts who in hackspace and their garages in the evening, after work, cut out parts for robots, assemble their projects and program to the detriment of sleep and rest, there is the future Bill Gates, and Paul Allen, and Mark Zuckerberg, and many of those who will realize the motto: "Robots are injected - a happy person!".

I will not pour water and beat around the bush - this material was written not so much for the sandbox I read daily Habra, how to organize their thoughts, and for the sake of lulz comments people experienced because experience decides. Moreover, in such an unknown and young industry as robotics.


What immediately comes to mind to an ordinary person with the phrase: “Can he come up with a robot?”.
Admit that a picture immediately flashed in my head: an anthropomorphic iron trolley with luminous eyes, a light bulb nose and a nasal metal voice rides through the laboratory: “I am a robot! I am a robot! I am a robot!".
The essence of understanding a person who is not involved in robots is the endowment of a robot with signs of an Artificial Man. But the roomba, a useful robot vacuum cleaner, doesn’t look like a robot, it is perceived as part of the interior, a useful “device”, and not a traveling iron, all riveted, an incomprehensible mechanism.
Why all these phrases above - I propose to take a detached look at the main question of this article without imposing the pattern “I’ll think of a robot, but it will have a head, arms, legs and glowing eyes!”.


A successful robot is something so robot-like that someone is willing to pay money for. That is, the robot must solve some problem or need for its purchase to be cost-effective. Image robots also solve the problem of attention from others, so iron carts with eyes and ventriloquism in a metallic voice also have the right to life.

Below I wrote about 6 ways of how you can come up with an idea for a startup in robotics. Of course, these can be not only robots, but also other components of such ecosystems - “twitter for robots”, “instagrams for pictures of engine oil and batteries”, etc. Joke.

1 Improve the finished!

Why seek a new idea, suffer and suffer? Take a ready-made, already existing solution on the market, channel your energy and energy into creating an improved version of this and - voila!, A new product has appeared, with an already formed sales market, unique and basically tested.

The Roomba robot vacuum cleaner already mentioned above. The Neato robot also cleans carpets, but at the same time it has a laser range finder, which allows him to first create a map of the room and then clean "smartly", rather than randomly walking around the room.
There is always room for creativity, if you have creative thinking, you can always come up with a couple of improvements for the existing and currently selling robot in any area. The main work then will be to check whether the new "smarties" are suitable for such a robot or are these excesses that developers could come up with, but then abandon them.
And progress does not stand still, the robot launched into production 5 years ago did not have a super-sensor, because the sensor cost fabulous money. But six months ago, in the glorious city of Shenzhen, the mass production of a super-sensor began and now a slightly reworked robot with it can become much smarter and even more in demand than the existing model, which served as the basis for your robot.

2 Back to the future!

This method is perfect for those who like to read science fiction and generally fantasize.
Sit back, relax, close your eyes and imagine that you are in the future, say, in about 20 years. And around you is a real hi-tech - personal flyers fly along multi-level streets, gravity is defeated, and against the background of sunrise you can see the inverse trace from taking off into orbit bulk carrier, in the womb of which freeze-dried solders for the colonizers on Mars. You see, they’ve gouged at the greenhouse with meteorite, there’s nothing to devour, you need to save it until the whole reserve from the local Martian Rosrezerv has been eaten up.

So, imagine what kind of robots could surround you in this room or on an imaginary street. It will be a robot cleaner, an armored box driving around the streets and blinking an orange lighthouse, or a quadrocopter that bombed a parcel from a local cafe, straight to your balcony, or maybe it’s a telepresence robot with special head guides on the ceiling, constantly annoying incoming people video calling.

Quadrocopter + book = Amazon delivery without traffic jams and long waiting for the courier.
Or quadrocopter + pizza in a bag = Domino's hot pizza delivery.
Or a small hexapod-governess who does only two things - bringing your socks to the bed in the morning (finds them using the built-in RFID beacons by triangulation method (there are two charging docks in the house, additionally serving to find socks)) and transferring your smartphone to “ contactless charging table ”so that in the morning you don’t have to hurry to look for both.

3 Solve a well-known problem!

Trite, but you can solve some problem or something that is necessary. For example, a robot for transporting goods between floors, a kind of eight-legged walker with a platform on top for refrigerators, which can carefully lift loads to 12 floors and lower them from there. An irreplaceable thing when moving or for a company engaged in the delivery of household appliances. Especially in those houses where the elevator is in perpetual repair or its load / size is not enough.

A guide robot for visually impaired people solves a real problem and makes life easier, unlike, say, a robot from loneliness ala “twitter for cats” (I have nothing against cats, but even vice versa!). Such a robot the size of a dog, stuffed with sensors and powerful iron for the operation of the technical vision system, could be of great help to those who have eye problems.
Or another variation of it - a robot guide for those who first arrived in another city and want to see local sights, not stopping in lines at museums, but walking along with their robot, who will pay for the tickets that were billed before the beginning of the tour. He can even speak pure English in the same, yes, Martian city where the bulk carrier with dry rations flew. The Russian language there is local, they will not surprise anyone.

4 Explore the application!

Such an option is to become very good at something, to learn the area from the inside and on the basis of this, ideas for this area of ​​application will already arise.
This can be especially pronounced in related fields, for example, robotics and medicine, robotics and geology, etc.

A robot in the form of a small, er ... "submarine" to investigate the causes of clogged sewer collectors.
Where a person cannot crawl even in scuba gear due to their large size or dangerous fumes, such a plumber robot could examine everything, release a reagent, and then swim back into its airtight box for transportation.
Or another option - a robot agronomist, flying around a hundred hectares of wheat fields in a day and taking measurements of soil indicators - humidity, pH, etc. Based on this, a fine-tuning for irrigation canals is made so as not to swamp the fields and prevent water overruns.
A farmer or an agronomist, even on a tractor \ motorcycle \ bike \ chaise, will not be able \ will not want to compete with such a robot in productivity and profitability in the framework of solving the problem.

5 More versatile communication!

Sometimes, in a phrase or question farthest from robotics, a great idea for a robotic startup may be contained. Communicate more with people from other areas, while considering your communication from the point of view as if you could see some problem or need of your interlocutor and solve it. That is, simplistically, form one of the faces of your view as “I am an inventor listening to a focus group”.

A friend who recently built a house tells you: “Well, it was hard for me when I laid tiles in the yard, I constantly had to drag pallets with it, which greatly reduced productivity and concentration of work!” You immediately get the idea: “An assistant robot for dragging building materials to the place of work - tiles, tiles, mortar in containers, etc.”. If the master is not distracted by secondary matters, then he will be able to work much more efficiently.

6 Solve your own problem!

Not always can we see the real problem that other people have. And the problem not always found is real, but not taken from the ceiling. But the problems that confront ourselves and have to be solved - we can boldly research these problems and offer a solution for all those who may also encounter them and already be able to solve them using the results of your startup, naturally, paying money for it.

I find it difficult to get up at the right time if I go to bed late. I just don’t react to the alarm, although it gives a loud signal three times.
My problem could be solved by a small robot, which is on duty by the bed, and when the time specified in the settings comes, the robot drives up to the foot, puts the manipulator on and gives a weak discharge of current. And while playing the music of the alarm. If you don’t turn it off within a minute, he again approaches the leg and gives a stronger discharge of current. And so five times, and on the sixth the robot drives up to the head and with the manipulator-handshake “washes” the amateur to sleep.
Hmm, I wonder how long such a robot is. He certainly needs a solid anti-vandal case.

Thanks everyone!
I wonder how you find ideas for your startups in the field of robotics.

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