The first version of the National Robotics Roadmap was published 2009 with the support of CCC and later revised 2013. Just before the recent election a new version of the National Robotics Roadmap was published on November 7th.

The roadmap covers key applications drivers for use of robotics across manufacturing, services, healthcare, space and defense. Based on identified drivers the expected progress with research and development is predicted 5, 10 and 15 years into the future.

The revision of the roadmap included a re-organization of the document to have a strong separation of societal drivers and R&D needs. In addition, new sections were added to discuss educational needs, and ethical, legal and economic considerations. Utilization of new robotics technology will only be possible if we carefully consider preparation of the workforce to leverage this technology with education from K-12 through community colleges to universities. We are also seeing daily discussions about legal implications of robot technology from deployment of driverless cars on public roads to use of UAV in the National Airspace. Ethical considerations of use of robots in homes, with children, etc. are also essential to the future of robotics.

From an R&D point of view it was interesting to see that driverless vehicles and UAVs had progress faster than expected as applications. Supply chain use of robotics was also growing faster than expected. Machine learning is a technology that has gained tremendous popularity. Safe actuation, gripper technology, long-term autonomy and effective human-robot interaction are examples of areas that have progressed slower than expected.

You can read the full 2016 Roadmap here. The CCC also released a white paper earlier this year, titled Next Generation Robotics, which examines the past five years of the NRI and provides recommendations for the future.