Acorn Blog–Robotics Design–Defining Requirements


Ken Haven

September 19, 2017

As we discussed in an earlier blog, a detailed set of requirements is key to any successful product development effort. In the case of developing a robotics system, this is especially important as these systems tend to be dynamic systems (i.e., they involve motion) and may be used in a wide variety of environments. Understanding and defining the operational requirements and boundaries of the robot is critical both to the design and ultimately to customer satisfaction (setting proper customer expectations). And if your business model is to sell the robots as a service, designing the robot(s) to satisfy a potentially wide range of customers and their (potentially) unique requirements will be critical to expanding your customer base.

In today’s blog, we’re going to focus on defining some of these operational boundaries – we’ll leave the user interface/operational control, sensors/data gathering and other requirements for a future blog.

There are several main areas that should be defined in terms of requirements for a robotics design:

As with most product development processes, a set of requirements will start from an idealized perspective, and compromises/tradeoffs will likely be needed to satisfy performance, cost, etc. realities. In the end, spending the time to consider and detail these requirements will save both time and money in the long run. Find several potential customers, and work with them to understand the impact of these tradeoffs and help you prioritize your requirements.

About the author

Ken Haven has been CEO of Acorn Product Development since the company’s founding in 1993. Ken has more than 25 years of product development experience including technical leadership roles with NeXT Computer, Attain, Inc., and Hewlett-Packard. He holds MS and BS degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.