Robotics Prototyping 🤖

How to develop prototypes of your robots
May 26, 2023

‍The creation of a robotic system might start with an idea, but requires intensive prototyping, testing and production to bring it all to fruition. The goal is to create robotic devices quickly so as to offer the client a device to evaluate.

As the domain of robotics is growing, the need for prototypes is increasing. As a creator, knowing the space and how to innovate in it is an important asset.

This article will explore what robotics prototyping is all about, why you should be interested and how you can execute in this space.

What is robotics prototyping?

Prototyping is all about building an initial device, with the intent of developing it into the final product. The goal isn’t to design a perfect, market-ready, feature-full prototype, but rather a very basic prototype with all the basic functionalities that can showcase your idea, how it’s implemented, and your general project.

In itself, a prototype is a basis upon which you will develop your project. It helps explain the complexities, nuances, requirements, and functionalities of a new product while limiting the risk of misinterpretation.

Once you have your concept, you’ve developed your drawings, specifications, and requirements, you’re ready to pitch your idea, it’s time to move on to robotics prototyping.

Why should I prototype my robot?

A prototype brings your project to life as a functional model of your concept. Functional prototypes are often necessary, not only for concept evaluation but also for securing grant money and are widespread across a range of industries.

Compared to drawings and theoretical research, a working robotics prototype will give you a strong persuasive tool to gather feedback, work out the design flaws, minimize errors, eliminate misinterpretations and demonstrate your idea to potential investors.

Let’s look at a few advantages of using a robot prototype:

Shorter Development Time. As you introduce a prototype, you can immediately test issues and concerns. This cuts out the guesswork and creates real results without hypothesizing.

Reduced Cost. The point of creating a prototype is to help you iterate over it, this should theoretically minimize rounds and theoretical discussions, saving you time and money.

More Clarity. When it comes to autonomous navigation robotics, a working prototype will bring immense clarity and transparency to what would otherwise be a theoretical idea. This will help you dispel ambiguities and misinterpretations. You will be able to discuss concerns, and customers will gain a very clear understanding of the product. This will help all the participating members to have accurate expectations.

Accurate Requirements and Research. A prototype will also bring you more clarity to concepts you might not understand, helping you create more accurate requirements. It should also help you when conducting research, especially when conceptualizing difficult subjects. Allowing groups to access a functional model will greatly increase the accuracy of their feedback hence the quality of your results that directly depend on it.

Increased Speed to Market. As you develop your prototype, you increase your speed to market, this makes for a quicker development process, transparency and highly accurate research.

Foundation for Financial Support. One of the greatest benefits of using a robot prototype is the solid foundation it gives you to sell your product or idea. Most of the time, securing investors and financial support requires a functional prototype. Demonstrating a working model will greatly increase your chances of acquiring investors.

An Edge Over the Competition. In a competitive environment, a working robot can give you a significant advantage over those that simply use drawings, theories and concepts. In business, the real deal is often better than our imagination.

Faster Patents. Having a robotic prototype can help your team speed up the patent process, this can help in competitive environments.

Developing a prototype will quickly make you understand how your product functions, its flaws and problems, you will be able to demonstrate its features, helping you access investors and funds in the process and understand the internals of your device.


Let’s now go over a few steps that should help you develop your next robotic system :

  1. Ideas are cheap

As the internet developed massively, ideas are being shared faster than ever and more cheaply. The most costly part of an idea is now actually determining if the idea holds economic value.

By creating a robotic prototype, you can showcase your idea in a concrete form. Take the time to create a working prototype that correctly presents your idea. This means focusing your efforts not on making it look particularly good but on making a well rounded product, with all the required features.

  1. Don’t optimize for cost

You might be tempted to create the most elegant solution with the best internals and state of the art technologies. However this isn’t always desirable when creating your prototype, what you want is to develop your product rapidly and efficiently.

In some cases it might mean using the latest tech but most of the time it means using what you know will work and deliver results.

  1. Reconfigurable I/O

Building in robotics, you will use a lot of sensors and I/O devices, to save time, and not have to check what the required voltage is, how it has to be implemented etc. You should consider investing in a mechanism that enables you to quickly swap I/O devices and test them out.

Doing so will save you precious time and money.

  1. Design for Reuse

A prototype is supposed to be quickly developed in order to be improved. An efficient way to achieve this quick  development is through reusability. Look at your previous projects, can you resume some software, or configurations, maybe designs or models ?

You should also keep in mind when designing that you might reuse what you’re currently doing, it’s always a good practice to keep notes or comments on what you’re doing to check back in the future if you pick it back up.

Building a robotics prototype essentially means taking shortcuts to reach a primary product that can be developed and used for investors, research, and improvements. You’ll benefit a lot by having a functional prototype.

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