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The marketing of a new product presents numerous challenges. Levinson, Levinson and Levinson  state that, “marketing is a very slow process”. The efficacy of a product may not save it from shoddy marketing. In fact, an inferior product may perform better if it is marketed better. In the field of robotics, the challenge increases significantly because of the various limitations robots have including the learning process normally required of the operator to deploy them effectively.
The robotic car designed in this project is a simple system having basic components and is ideal for simple uses. It holds a lot of promise for adaptation for various uses, but is ready to use for certain applications. Its major service offering for a client is that it can provide visual information from areas that are not easily accessible since it has a camera, which can also operate in dark locations on night mode. In other words, it is able to ‘see’on behalf of the operator, who watches from a safe distance.
Potential Applications of the Robotic Car
In its current design, the robotic car has many potential primary and secondary applications, which in the same stroke simplifies and complicates its commercialization. Shanklin and Ryans  point out that a “new product tends to be extremely complex and often has a number of potential applications”. The robotic car’s primary applications will involve using its features as currently designed without further modification, which will primarily be to collect visual information about a target area.
Secondary applications will involve using it as a carrier of separate specialised equipment for the collection of other forms of data. With modifications, it can be equiped with equipment sets such as probes, scoops, and drills to undertake some operations in remote locations. Multiple applications mean a wide range of potential clients, but it also means widely varying needs.
One of the significant applications of robotic cars of this nature is, “sending them where humans cannot or should not go” . Examples of such places include harzardous areas where chemical polution has occurred, buildings engulfed in fire and smoke, hostage situations, minefields or the diffusion of bombs planted in buildings. In fact, space vehicles for exploration of distant planets use robotic cars. The design in this project satisfies investigative needs on terrestiral motorable surfaces.
By sending the robotic car to a chemical hazard, it is possible to determine the extent of spillage of a liquid or a solid pollutant. It can also work for gaseous pollutants if they are visible. The robotic car is able to collect vital information while the operator is at a safe distance. The car is able to collect information from a hostage situation without putting any law enforcement officer in danger.
Another possible application of the robotic car is for routine operations in industries. These operations include cleaning harzadous areas and collecting information such as temparature in areas, which are not easily accessible, or may pose some threat to man. The car can provide access to environments whose safety is in doubt, or can change without warning, such as inside collapsed buildings and unstable mine shafts.
The third category of applications for the robotic car is for sports and entertainment. Robotic car enthusiasts use them to race for sports or for playing ball games for entertainment. As steffoff  observes, ‘toy robots and sports robots offer various forms of entertainment”. The thrill of controlling a real robotic car provides a different experience compared to playing the more available virtual games. Such games serve to expand the interest in robotics by the players and spectators.
Target Market for the Robotic Car
The robotic car has potential customers in research laboratories, fire and rescue brigades, chemical plants and factories, police departments, bomb squads, mines and robotic sports enthusiasts. Kachroo and Mellodge  state that, “the usefulness of these little machines is only limited by your imagination”.
Each of these potential clients represents a different market segment, which has unique needs. The basic product design applies to each of these unique needs but specialised applications differentiate them. To develop the required robotic car for the needs of each segment, the four P’s of marketing, “product, price, place (distribution), and promotion” as presented by Shanklin and Ryans , provides the basis for consideration.
The prototype needs further development and rigorous testing to eleminate all possible design flaws in order to present a high quality product to potential customers. The prototype has a lot of room for improvement to include other design considerations including interfacing controls to use a joystick instead of the current computer controls.
It also requires the design of a fail-safe system that can allow for retieval of the unit should it experience an adverse operating environment that may cause it to malfunction. Such environments include areas with radio interference and locations with extreme temparatures.
Potential clients can help meet the cost of R&D after development and demostration of the operation of a tailored prototype to meet the needs of each of the potential market segments. Discussions will follow to explore possible parnership for the development of a specilised vehicle tailored for the needs of the specific segment. Through this means, it will be possible to raise funds for R&D. if the needs of different segments compare closely, then a pooled system with contributions from different parties will apply.
Actual production of the product in sufficient quantities is possible by piggybacking on an established firm dealing with robotics, to eliminate plant set up costs. After the design of the segment specific models, it will be necessary to enter into a contractual relationship with a manufacturer to manufacture the car, or parts of it for subsequent assembly.
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Issues to consider in such an agreement include patenting and financing of the venture. If there lacks independent funds, it may be necessary to sell the production rights entirely to a capable manufacter so that they proceed with the development of the product.
Since the manufacturers have already optimised production processes, it will lead to the saving of valuable time and finances on the cost of setting up a plant dedicated to the production of robotic cars, unless justifiable by demand. In this case, all other efforts will go to product development and testing. Performance of quality checks to guarantee product quality will form part of the production process. Levinson, Levinson and Levinson  observe that, “to be successful, you must offer a quality product or service”.
Production costs will influence the pricing of the robotic cars, which will span the R&D phase, the marketing phase and after sales support for the product. These costs have not yet been determined. However, the nature of financing for the R&D component may influence the costs positively for the clients.
If a client is involved in this phase, they will receive discounted prices for the finished products. The production of the robotic cars’ fits best in already established manufacturing concerns. If one manufacturer cannot produce the entire robotic car, then it may be necessarry to consider setting up an assembly plant for the robotic car. This model is justifiable only by matching demand for the robotic car. Otherwise, the overheads may kill the project.
Promotion for the robotic cars will include demonstrations in exhibitions on robotics and during target segment events. This approach takes into account that not all potential clients attend events on robotics. The promotion effort will include a website to display the potential applications of the robotic car together with testimonials from existing users. In addition, the promotion effort will include adverts on catalogues that target the market segments, which the robotic car will serve.
Promotion for the product will not be an end in itself. It will only be part of the entire process of getting a market share in a budding market. Butje  states, “Nothing is more killing for a product than a flashy introduction and a failure to deliver”. Quality controls present one of the key areas to focus on during production to ensure that the product lives up to the promise it offers during the promotion exercise.
Finally, the robotic cars will be availed through technological stores. It is expensive to set up an elaborate distribution network hence all effort will aim at using the distribution networks of established distributors dealing robotic equipement. Davidow  observes that, “the exposure the product gets through the channels of distribution is critical”.
Butje  adds that, “in order to reach the intended target market, the right sales channels must be chosen and developed”. Trying to set up a new distribution channel from the onset requires large capital, and a major logistical outlay, which the project cannot support at this stage.
A key consideration in the production process is the place of the competition. The robotic industry has come of age, and to get a market share for the robotic car, it must have a strong selling proposition. Its key element is simplicity of operation. Its unique selling proposition is a ‘general purpose robotic car adaptable for a multiplicity of applications’.
Many competing products have specialised applications currently and as such, there is need to acquire a separate vehicle for every concievable need.
Unless the need for the vehicle is indeed a special purpose, for instance space exploration, there is no reason for acquiring a special purpose vehicle for simple needs that the simple robotic car can competitively meet. Its ability for operation by a normal computer makes it even more attractive since the user only needs to install the relevant software and is at once ready to use the car.
The future of the robotic car lies in the multiplicity of applications it can have. As the model stands, it has limitations on what it can to do beyond giving a visual output. It may also currently serve as a vehicle for carrying specialised equipment like thermometers. With the addition of more features, it is adaptable for specialised tasks such as diffusion of bombs.
A possible means would be to provide for the fitting of different tools onto it for specialised tasks. The addition of more cameras can enhance functionality by providing more views at any one moment. Other design considerations would be fireproofing the car for high temparature applications and enhancement of its operating range, to enable control over longer distances.
There is need to include a system overide which may allow for disabling the car or imposing a second line of control in the event that the primary control line is compromised. During operation, if the robotic car goes out of range while approaching a harzard to itself, the lack of an overide may cause it to proceed unhindered to the danger. Also in situations where there is radio interference, the car may spin out of control. If the car was undertaking extraction of a person in need, it may mean loss of life or serious injury to the victim.
 J. C. Levinson, J. Levinson and A. Levinson, Guerilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.
 L. Shanklin, and K. Ryans, Essentials of Marketing High Technology. USA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1987.
 P. Kachroo, and P. Mellodge, Mobile Robotic Car Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005
 R. Stefoff, Robots. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2008.
 W.H. Davidow, Marketing High Technology: An Insiders View. New York, the Free Press, 1986.
 M. Butje, Product Marketing for Technology. Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth- Heineman n, 2005.