Software Devs Have Cross Over Skills for Robotics and Drone Programming


The government wants UK to lead global robotics technologies. As part of its investment of £21 million set to fund seven new research programmes, that are being developed to tackle some of the country’s major science and engineering challenges, £4.2 million is earmarked exclusively for finding new ways robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) can restore the balance between engineered and natural systems in the cities of the future.

While RAS is beginning to boom around the world, the official acknowledgement of its importance here is significant. Per government projections, RAS technologies will become critical across industries and are estimated to have a potential global economic impact of $1.9 to $6.4 trillion by 2025.

It’s highly unlikely there will be enough candidates to fill all those open positions and to meet the coming onslaught, colleges and universities across the UK are getting onboard and developing comprehensive programs. While this is all good news for software developers/engineers with experience in robots and drones, if you don’t want to go back to school or haven’t worked with them professionally, a lot of the skills are transferable within software development.

Mike Counsell, the founder and managing director of UK Robotics, a Bolton based company with international clients that specialises in providing software for robotics and automation in the Life Science industry with a focus on drug discovery and high throughput screening, said his team members have a deep commitment and an abiding interest in delivering high quality and readily maintainable software for their clients. Having a personal mandate is essential. They provide complete turn-key systems and integration solutions or provide their software to control existing or newly created systems built by the end user/client in a mission critical industry.

Counsell noted that while skill sets may vary by industry and field as well as the type of RAS, solid candidates shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Here’s what UK Robotics looks for in their candidates:

Essential cross over skills

  • C#
  • Very strong OO skills
  • Architecting experience
  • TDD and related principles
  • NUnit
  • Moq or similar
  • Ninject or similar

Familiarity with the following will make stand out

  • Development for any of following: automation, robotics, servos/motors
  • Network related security
  • Experience with remote systems

Soft skills

  • Very disciplined work ethics
  • Relaxed demeanour
  • Team player

Be Gadget Oriented

Like any industry, coming in with a general idea of things work from the top down can make a real difference in the quality of your job search. “Most software engineers have very little knowledge of the electronics/electrical and mechanical design side” Counsell said. He also advised that having an interest in and base understanding of electrical/electronic design, as well as mechanical design, would be a great help to candidates. For example, when working with any robotics or drone system, it can be a real game changer if you have the ability to look at a CAD model and be able to understand what you are seeing, even if the detail is designed by someone else.

“Basically,” Consell added, “one has to be a jack of all trades and hopefully a master of one specific trade and by that I mean excellent at software but hopefully able to wire up a few plugs and bolt a few bits together on site without needing to call someone else in.”

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