Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Robotics and new opportunities

Here are the slides of my talk at the BARA Academic Forum for Robotics meeting Robotics: from innovation to service, on Monday 20 May 2013:

The key messages from my talk were:
  • The new wave of robotics represents a kind of Cambrian explosion in robotics: an exciting but also bewildering exploration of new forms, functions and materials. This explosion of diversity means that the New Robotics is not one kind of robot. Thus any kind of prediction about which of these will successfully evolve to become mainstream is more or less impossible.
  • There are two common myths: first, the waiting-for-AI myth: the idea that robotics is waiting for some breakthrough innovation in Artificial Intelligence, without which robotics is stuck. And second, the need-full-autonomy myth: the idea that fully autonomous robots represent some ideal end-state of the development of robotics; this is not true - instead we need robots and human-robot interfaces that will transition smoothly between tele-operation and semi-autonomy. We call this dynamic autonomy.
  • There are significant opportunities for innovation right now - underpinned by a significant head-of-steam of fundamental technologies from university R&D. I offer some examples for discussion, including companion robots, wearable robots and tele-operated robots with immersive tele-presence, perhaps making use of remote tele-haptics (although I claim no special insights). 
  • We need new and agile approaches to innovation. New kinds of research-industry partnerships and flexible, responsive pathways to commercialisation. Especially campus start-ups and incubators, nurturing post-docs as next generation entrepreneurs; and innovative modes of funding. We also need responsible and sustainable innovation.Haptocs 

Here are links to further information, and video clips, on the projects and robots highlighted in the talk:

Slide 10: The Cooperative Human Robot Interaction Systems (CHRIS) project
Slide 11: MOBISERV - An Integrated Intelligent Home Environment for the Provision of Health, Nutrition and Well-Being Services to Older Adults
Slide 12: Hand exoskeleton for post stroke recovery

Slide 13: Tactile Sensing - tele-haptics

Slide 14: Surgical Haptics
Slide 15: Search and Rescue - Disaster Response
Slide 16: Towards energy sustainability

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