Earlier this year I got an email from Natalia Reinic at Intech and managing editor of the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems (IJARS), about a new idea she had regarding guest curators. I was asked to be the first, of hopefully many to come, to “choose interesting, relevant robotics content (both scientific and popular) in a fixed period of time (let’s say 3 months).”
Update: IJARS just published their first e-zine online, with my curated content.
— IJARS Journal (@IJARS_Journal) June 12, 2015
After the fold you can read what I came up with for Q1 of 2015. I hope you like it!
I am honoured to be the first IJARS Guest Content Editor. To be honest, it is not really clear what this means exactly. Part of being a researcher is to keep updated with what is going on in your field. While this has become easier by being connected all the time to everyone everywhere the amount of information has reached staggering heights. I understand the guest content editor to pick the most interesting papers and stories happening in the bigger robotics community and highlight them.
Personally I think it is a great time to be in robotics, if you are not convinced, I think the news bits might sway your opinion. The content I picked is closely related to my research and personal interests, which is robotic vision, robot learning and the integration of vision and actions.
Some of the application areas we have in mind here at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision have also been in the news these last months. In medical robotics for example (which was mentioned as one of the technologies of the 2022 report by the IEEE Computer Society), Google announced a collaboration to enter the robotic-assisted surgery market. This area has also seen more and more work in providing visual feedback not just to the surgeon but also using vision to guide the robot itself. With increasing miniaturisation robots might be able to enter the bloodstream and perform operations from within the body. A recent IJARS paper looks at how to control such micro robots using electromagnetic fields.
Staying with Google, their DeepMind AI research lab, was featured quite a bit after their Nature paper was released earlier this year.
Deep learning is the current trend in computer vision, and I hope to see some more applications of this in robotics. Following the increasing negative AI coverage in media it is good to read an opinion by somebody like Andrew Ng who is one of the worlds leading machine learning researchers.
Another area of interest in our Centre is agricultural robotics. It has seen a surge of investment, not just here in Queensland but also in Europe, where the first round of H2020 funding recently released a list of funded robotics project, including two in agricultural robotics. With all the funding and media hype one also should not forget that there is issues here as well.
But also the industry and startup scene is getting its funding. For example, 3DRobotics, a UAV technology developer, secured a 50m USD from Qualcomm and Fetch Robotics has raised some backing these last few months as well. Rethink Robotics released a new robot, called Sawyer, similar to their Baxter robot, released just 3 years ago, yet with only one arm but a much sleeker look (inspired by the KUKA LWR).
And Uber, the transportation startup, has shown their interest in robotics technology with their announcement of a ”strategic parntership” with CMU, which in fact looks like they hired a big part of the CMU robotics staff.
How to get the next generation interested in robotics is another important issue, this year QUT has launched two MOOCs with the aim of bringing robotics closer to a worldwide audience of interested students. IJARS also is running a video lecture series, and I can highly recommend the talk by Francesco Nori about complete force control in humanoid robots.
Definitely worth a read is the piece by Lauren Orsini “What It Took These Four Women To Get Into Robotics“.
I want to end with a few nice videos, Festo released their traditional, annual bio-inspired robot video. This year it is a flock of butterflies.
Also worth watching is the AAAI Shakey winner video of this year, in which a Nao is used to help kids learn how to write (feating a former QUT student) And what would a robotics video list be without Boston Dynamics, watch this video introducing Spot.
All in all it seems like a good start for the 2015 and robotics, I am looking forward to the research that will be published this year and presented at ICRA, IROS and RSS this year.