June 27th, 2014

Robots: Computer Assisted Surgery

In this episode Ron Vanderkley speaks to Prof. Karol Miller, Director of the Intelligent Systems for Medicine Lab at the University of Western Australia, about medical robotics and how doctors and patients perceive its role and use. Central to his work are mathematical models of soft tissue (brain, liver, etc.) that can be used for robot-assisted surgery by providing fast and accurate feedback. He also discusses the potential and challenges in making surgery fully autonomous. Finally, we hear about how his computational tools could be used to build transformer-like robots that can reassemble to adapt to new tasks.

Karol Miller
drKarol_Millar2Karol Miller is a specialist in the area of modelling and computer simulation in biomechanics. He is the Winthrop Professor of Applied Mechanics at the University of Western Australia, the Deputy Head of the School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Director of the Intelligent Systems for Medicine Lab and Director of the Computational Geomechanics Laboratory. His contributions include mathematical models of brain deformation behavior (the world’s most frequently cited) and close-to-real-time finite element and meshless algorithms.

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June 14th, 2014

Robots: A Code of Ethics for HRI Practitioners

Human-robot interaction is a fascinating field of research in robotics. It also happens to be the field that is closely related to many of the ethical concerns raised with regards to interactive robots. Should human-robot interaction (HRI) practitioners keep in mind things such as human dignity, psychological harm, and privacy? What about how robot design relates to racism and sexism?

Dr. Laurel D. Riek worked on a code of ethics for HRI practitioners with Dr. Don Howard, both professors at the University of Notre Dame. They presented their work at the We Robot conference held earlier this year.

Curious to find out more, AJung spoke with Dr. Riek about what motivated them to draft the code of ethics, what is covered, and where they plan to take it. 

Laurel Riek

lr-webLaurel Riek is the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, where she directs the Robotics, Health, and Communication Lab. Her research interests are in human-robot interaction, social signal processing, and health informatics. Riek’s work explores how to build machines that are socially agile – able to sense, respond, and adapt to human behavior. This includes computationally modeling social context and synchrony, as well as building expressive robots, such as next generation patient simulator systems. Riek received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge and BS in Logic and Computation from Carnegie Mellon University. She worked for eight years as a Senior Artificial Intelligence Engineer and Roboticist at MITRE, on projects including search and rescue robotics, unmanned vehicles, and natural language processing. For her research, she has received several high-level awards from MITRE, a Qualcomm Research Award in Computing, and the NSF CAREER Award.

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May 30th, 2014

Robots: Russian Robotics

In this episode, Sabine speaks with Andrew Gryaznov, co-founder of Cubic Robotics and Roman Luchin, CEO of CyberTech Labs, about robotics in Russia. They provide us with an inside view on robotics education, innovations and startups in their country. The interview was done live at RoboForum in Moscow earlier this month. Roboforum is a cross disciplinary conference designed to unite the best minds in robotics, including scientists and designers, business people and governors as well as artists, engineers and popular science speakers worldwide.

Speakers at the conference included creator of Hubo, Jun-Ho Oh, iCub’s Giorgio Metta, creator of the Blind Robot Louis-Philippe Demer, Vladimir Konyshev of Neurobotics, Skolkovo’s Albert Yefimov, NanoSatisfi’s Chris Wake, Unbounded’s Melonee Wise, Valery Komissarova of Grishin, and many more.

Roman Luchin
rluchinRoman Luchin is Founder of TRIK and CEO of CyberTech Labs in Russia. He started as a researcher in a laboratory of theoretical cybernetics in Saint Petersburg State University, where he developed multi-agent control systems. Faced with two challenges in Russian robotics, young professionals and outdated approaches, he decided to devote himself to the improvement of STEM education through robotics and the creation of new educational tools. As a result, he developed a unified cybernetic platform for education, research, and robotics projects called TRIK. There is continuously growing community around TRIK, including universities, researchers, prototyping labs, and creative teams working to provide everyone with the opportunity to create modern intelligent robots that can “see”, “hear” and collaborate.

Andrew Gryaznov
gryaznov Andrew Gryaznov is Partner and Co-founder of Cubic Robotics in Russia. Cubic Robotics is developing a personal robot assistant for the home. The first prototype of the robot was completed in October 2012. It was a cardboard box connected to a smartphone based on an Android platform, with specialized software and a speaker. The robot was able turn a fan on and off, and adjust the lighting in a room. Andrew Gryaznov met the idea’s author, Yuri Burov, in Moscow in the summer of 2011. He was part of a team working on the creation of a telepresence robot, when Yuri Burov suggested that they create a home-helper robot, or robot butler, which could communicate, know the answers to thousands of questions and remotely control household objects.

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May 17th, 2014

Robots: RoboRoach

In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with Bill Reith, an engineer at Backyard Brains. The company develops RoboRoach, the world’s first commercially available “cyborg”, which was successfully backed on KickStarter. Using their kit, you can briefly control the left/right movement of a cockroach from a smart phone using microstimulation of the antenna nerves. The RoboRoach is one of the many tools that Backyard Brains uses to teach students about neuroscience. Aware of the ethical questions their work raises, the company has put out a set of Ethical Statements. To explore the ethics further, AJung Moon speaks with Prof. Oliver Bendel, at the School of Business in Basel.

Bill Reith
Bill Reith is Engineer at Backyard Brains were he works on RoboRoach. He also uses the companies products as an educator at Maker Fairs, university workshops, high school events, local bars, and TED talks.

Reith has a Bachelors degree in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan where he worked at the Neural Engineering Laboratory. He also worked at Maker Works, helping customers with their projects at Ann Arbor’s makerspace.

Oliver Bendel
OBE_WEB2Oliver Bendel is Professor of Information Systems and Ethics at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, where he is active in the areas of e-learning, knowledge management, social media, mobile business, avatars and agents, information ethics, and machine ethics (http://www.maschinenethik.net/). His current areas of focus in machine ethics are chat bots, medical and care robots, advanced driver assistance systems and the combination of machine ethics and animal ethics.

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May 2nd, 2014

Robots: Zero Tillage Robotics

In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with Professor Peter Corke from Queensland University of Technology, about the fast-tracking research that will see robots planting, weeding, maintaining and harvesting crops. The AgBot is a light-weight, golf buggy-sized robot that has been specifically designed to reduce the environmental impact of weeding. It can navigate wheat farms of around 4000 hectares using low-cost sensors, targeting weeds with spray while they are still very young plants. The Chief Investigators are Peter Corke, Ben Upcroft, Gordon Wyeth and Salah Sukkarieh (ACFR) with Partner Investigator Andrew Bate from SwarmFarm.

Peter Corke
petercorke1-tnPeter Corke joined Queensland University of Technology at the start of 2010 and is known for his research in vision-based robot control, field robotics and wireless sensor networks. He received a B.Eng and M.Eng.Sc. degrees, both in Electrical Engineering, and a PhD in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, all from the University of Melbourne. Prior to QUT he was a senior principal research scientist at CSIRO where he founded the Autonomous Systems Laboratory, a 50-person team undertaking research in mining, ground, aerial and underwater robotics, as well as sensor networks. He subsequently led a major cross-organizational “capability platform” in wireless sensor networks.

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