Chief Robotics Officer
Exploring this Job
Learn as much as you can about robotics by reading books and watching videos about the field. If your school offers robotics classes, enroll in them. If your school has a robotics club, join it—and start your own club if one doesn’t exist. Since CROs also have a business background, take business classes and get involved in school business clubs and join organizations such as Junior Achievement (https://jausa.ja.org), Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (https://www.fbla-pbl.org), and Business Professionals of America (http://bpa.org).
Participate in robotics competitions to test your abilities, meet people with shared interests, and have some fun. Here are some competitions to check out:
- BEST Robotics Competitions: http://www.bestinc.org
- FIRST Robotics Competition: http://www.firstinspires.org
- National Robotics Challenge: https://www.thenrc.org
- SkillsUSA Competitions: http://www.skillsusa.org
- VEX Robotics Competitions: https://www.vexrobotics.com/v5/competition
- World Robot Olympiad: https://wro-association.org
Other methods to explore this field include building robots; participating in summer exploration programs that are offered by colleges and universities, high schools, professional associations, robotics companies, and other organizations; and participating in information interviews and job shadowing experiences with chief robotics officers and other robotics professionals.
Chief robotics officers oversee the installation of new robotics and related automation technology and work to improve existing robotics/automation systems. They oversee both robotics hardware (e.g., the actual robots, automated conveyor systems, and the supporting machinery and systems) and software (such as robotics process automation software—which performs tasks such as data entry—and automated testing software that frees up humans to do more complex tasks). Additionally, artificial intelligence (machine learning, machine vision, and natural language processing) and data analytics technology are increasingly being utilized to increase efficiency, improve productivity, reduce costs, and to meet other goals.
When a company wants to introduce new robotics or automation solutions (or improve existing systems), the CRO works with executives, engineers, information technology (IT) professionals, plant managers, and others to assess their organization’s technology needs and establish a project budget and timeline. They also assess power needs and safety and security concerns. Then the CRO collaborates with automation vendors to select the appropriate technology for their company’s short- and long-term goals.
Once the robotics technology is selected, the CRO develops a plan to integrate it with existing systems. They educate employees about the new robotics technology or other automated systems in order to cultivate support and “buy-in” from executives and staff (especially line-level workers, who will most be affected by the new equipment). Introducing robotics technology without such “pre-education” can create a stressful work environment in which employees spread incorrect information and even fear that robots will replace them. Productivity and team cohesiveness suffers when these issues arise. As a result, CROs must regularly update employees regarding the technology installation process, the benefits it will bring to the company and its employees, and their roles in the process.
Chief robotics officers spend a considerable amount of time focusing on the relationship between robots and human coworker—especially if autonomous robots are being introduced that will labor along human workers. CROs develop and implement principles, processes, and rules that govern and manage these interactions to keep human workers safe and ensure the effectiveness of robot-human teams. After the new robots are introduced, CROs study and utilize data from autonomous robot fleet analytics software to better understand operations, assess performance, improve (if necessary) existing operational strategies, and make changes to increase efficiency or address safety concerns and other issues.
Chief robotics officers manage all robotics and automation assets at their employer. They continuously assess their operation, evaluate new robotics/automation equipment and processes, and monitor market developments and industry trends to ensure that their company maintains its competitive edge. Chief robotics officers also seek to identify processes that can be automated to increase efficiency and grow company profits. Other duties include creating and managing budgets for the upkeep and the potential upgrading of robotics/automation systems; developing and maintaining recovery/backup plans for all robotics/automation systems should cybercrime, natural disasters, fires, or power outages affect them; and enforcing all policies regarding human-robot interactions.