What are the robotic projects in Turkey?

The sectors that will develop the most in the age of Industry 4.0 will undoubtedly be robotics and artificial intelligence technologies. These sectors, which are generally dominated by the Far East and the USA, are important not only from a commercial point of view, but also from a strategic point of view. In Turkey, on the other hand, new studies in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence are added every day.

In industrial production processes without staff, the greatest work comes from robots. While these smart machines, which can move in control or autonomously, provide great advantages to their users, there is great competition among those who develop and produce them.

The number of service robots sold today is significantly larger than the number of industrial robots. According to the International Robotics Federation (IFR) report, in 2016, 6.7 million individual service robots and 59 thousand 706 professional robots were sold against 294 thousand 312 industrial robots worldwide. According to data from IFR, 70 percent of worldwide robotic systems sales occur in Japan, China, USA, Korea and Germany.

The global robotic population has grown from 1.5 million in 2015 to 2.5 million in 2019. The region where they are most common is Asian countries. Robotics is the most obvious indicator of technology development in countries. The countries that are more advanced in this regard are the countries such as South Korea, Japan and Germany, which have reached a very advanced level in the industry and have the largest global brands in all strategic sectors such as automotive.

According to the International Federation of Robotics data, the robot population density (number of robots in use per 10,000 workers) corresponds to an average of 50. While this figure is currently 550 for Asia in general, it has been recorded as 18 for Turkey. Currently, the number of industrial robots in Turkey is 8 thousand.

Today, production is expected to rise thanks to robots designed to work with humans and even exceed their mechanical forms by artificial intelligence. Thus, it is estimated that production will increase by nearly 50 percent until 2025, and thus its contribution to the global economy will be around 2 trillion dollars annually.

It is predicted that in the next 10 years, robots will become an integral part of life from production to home life, from security to agriculture, and the number of robots that interact with humans and help will increase day by day.

ROBOTICS IN TURKEY

One of the first humanoid robots, named RoboTurk, was designed and developed in 2006 at the University of Balıkesir in Turkey, in collaboration with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). RoboTurk, the first humanoid robot sponsored by the Turkish Government, is the successor to the bipedal robot Salford Lady and Gonzalez from the University of Salford in England.

In 2009, Turkey's first dynamically powered humanoid robot, SURALP, was developed by the University of Sabancı in collaboration with TÜBİTAK. In 2011, a primary brain-controlled robot named Auriga was developed at Çukurova University.

Electrical and electronic engineer Mete Karaca is one of the names leading the teams conducting robotic studies in Turkey. Providing information about his team, Karaca said, “Turkey's first FRC robot team, “Sultans of Turkey” was founded in 2009. They have been participating in the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) robot competition organized by the FIRST foundation every year since 1989. Every year, with a different theme, solutions to world problems are sought through robots. Teams race their robots in a competitive environment, first at regional tournaments and then at world championships in the United States."

Mete Karaca said: Our team of robots design, build and code their robots according to the theme announced throughout the season. We don't just make robots, we use every platform, especially social media, to spread the science, technology, engineering and mathematics defined as STEM, first to the environment and then to the people of the world. We created a butterfly effect by undertaking a social mission in robotics. Today, there are hundreds of robot teams.”

Karaca, who closely follows the studies in the field of robotics both in Turkey and in the world, evaluated Turkey's position in the world in this field.

Referring to the importance of robotics and coding, Karaca said, “The fact that Turkey has a young population provides an advantage. Developed countries produce technology and make the produced technology added value. The increasing demands for robotic coding training in our country offer an opportunity to catch up with developed countries in the near future. It will be one of the countries that have a say in this field in the future with the training of qualified and talented generations with the robotic coding and software trainings that young people receive in schools and educational institutions.”

ROBOTICS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE INSTITUTIONS

Almost all universities in Turkey that have mechanical, electronic and/or mechatronics engineering have automation/robotics laboratories. Most of these laboratories and facilities support both lecture and basic research activities. Some prominent research centers integrated with industry include:

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory (AIR) – Istanbul Technical University

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory (AIR Laboratory) at Istanbul Technical University has been focusing on creating intelligent systems by developing and applying artificial intelligence methods and algorithms since 2007. The laboratory carries out various projects on intelligent robot systems. Their main research topics include Scene Analysis methods for Cognitive Robots, Automated Reasoning and Planning Methods for Cognitive Robots, Learning in Cognitive Robots, AI methods in video games, Multirobot systems and Robot-Sensor Systems.

KOVAN Research Laboratory – Middle East Technical University

KOVAN Research Laboratory is an autonomous robotics research center affiliated to the Computer Engineering Department of Middle East Technical University (METU). Their research interests include Cognitive Robotics, Swarm Intelligence, Cognitive and Computer Vision.

Research on swarm robotics focuses on the development and implementation of distributed and scalable coordination algorithms for mobile robots, such as self-organizing flock. The lab is also working with mini-drones to develop similar coordination strategies.

Besides these,

Sabancı University Cognitive Robotics Laboratory (Cogrobo Lab),

Boğaziçi University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory,

Boğaziçi University Perceptual Intelligence Laboratory,

Bahçeşehir University Robotics Laboratory,

Middle East Technical University ATLAS Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory,

Hacettepe University Robotics Society,

Özyeğin University Robotics Laboratory,

Atılım University Robot Technologies Research and Application Center RoTAM,

Gebze Technical University Robotics and Control Laboratory and

Üsküdar Robot and Technology Research Center are also institutions that work on robotics and AI. 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ECOSYSTEM

Artificial intelligence, which science fiction literature and cinema work intensively, is used in a wide range of areas such as personal applications, economy, defense systems, automation and production tools.

To support the holistic development and sustainability of all stakeholders of the artificial intelligence ecosystem; Turkey Artificial Intelligence Initiative (TRAI), which works to increase the cooperation between individuals and institutions, increase the capacity and commercialization rate, has published the February 2021 figures of the "TRAI Initiatives Map", in which it lists the initiatives that are actively working on artificial intelligence in Turkey.

Turkey Artificial Intelligence Initiative's February 2021 map includes 164 startups working in areas such as image processing, prediction and data analytics, search assistant and search engine, natural language processing, chatbot, machine learning, optimization, autonomous vehicles, robotic process automation and smart platforms.

The distribution of the categories of the initiatives included in the Turkey Artificial Intelligence Initiative Initiatives Map is as follows:

Image processing: 47

Foresight and Data Analytics: 21

Search Assistant and Search Engine: 6

Natural Language Processing: 16

Chatbot and Dialogue AI: 17

Machine Learning: 32

Optimization: 9

Autonomous Vehicle: 6

Robotic Process Automation: 7

Smart Platform Area: 3

Turkey Artificial Intelligence Initiative, which closed in 2017 with 24 startups, received support in 2018 from 28 companies, 9 technology partners and 64 startups on the ecosystem map. The number of startups working on image processing, natural language processing, autonomous vehicles, chatbots, voice recognition, prediction and analytics grew to 75 in 2019.

By March 2020, with the private sector's interest in artificial intelligence, increasing investment and support opportunities, artificial intelligence initiatives continued to create value, develop their sphere of influence and reached 112. In July 2020, the number on the risk map was 134, whereas in November 2020, the number rose to 145.