Annual CDT conference

**Please note that this event is by invitation only**

Edinburgh Centre for Robotics seventh annual conference will take place online on October 1st 2021


10:00 Conference start with introduction by directors, Prof. Helen Hastie and Prof. Michael Mistry. Media: Zoom.

10.20 Keynote speaker Amit Pandey . Media: Zoom for talk and Q&A.

Talk Title: Useful and Intelligent Artificial Social Beings: The Needs and The Opportunities 

Abstract:   Never before in history, Robots, Characters, AI and IoT, all together have been so close to us, in our society. It is a revolution towards a new ecosystem of living with technology, where artificial social beings are becoming a part of our lives. The intention is to facilitate a smarter, healthier, safer and happier life. Such AI beings are getting used in education, healthcare, retail, entertainment, art, science, and even to improve our understanding about ourselves, the human being. The talk will focus on some of such potential use cases, provide innovation and applied perspectives, and hint about the huge opportunities in the domain. The talk will open the floor by highlighting the multidisciplinary nature of the domain, the challenges we need to address as a community, and the need for a bigger collaborative ecosystem.

Amit Kumar Pandey (PhD, Robotics and AI) is a robotics and AI scientist. He is the co-founder of beingAI, the world's first transmedia AI company and serves as the Chief Scientist and CTO. He is also the founder and President of Socients AI and Robotics. He has served as the President, Chief Science Officer (CSO) and CTO of Hanson Robotics, the creator of among the most expressive humanoid robots, Sophia. He was the Chief Scientist at SoftBank Robotics Europe, Paris, France, the creator of the mass produced sociable humanoid robots Pepper and Nao. He is also serving as the President Collaboration for AI and Robotics Technology Park (ARTPARK), Bengaluru, India. He worked as a researcher in Robotics and AI at LAAS-CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), Toulouse, France.

His research interests include Socially Intelligent agents and the Society. He aims to address societal needs to achieve innovation through scientific advancements, new technologies and collaborative ecosystem creation. On these aspects, he has been actively contributing as principal investigator, researcher, and industrial scientific coordinator in more than 13+ large scale national, international and European Union (EU) projects on various themes including healthcare, education, and services, has published 60+ research papers, and delivered 100+ invited talks/keynotes/lecture in international venues.

11.10 Student Poster Session 1 (CDT1). Media: Gathertown poster room.

12.10 Keynote speaker Sabine Hauert . Media: Zoom for talk and Q&A.

Talk Title: Swarms for people

Abstract:  As tiny robots become individually more sophisticated, and larger robots easier to mass produce, a breakdown of conventional disciplinary silos is enabling swarm engineering to be adopted across scales and applications, from nanomedicine to treat cancer, to cm-sized robots for large-scale environmental monitoring or intralogistics. This convergence of capabilities is facilitating the transfer of lessons learned from one scale to the other. Cm-sized robots that work in the 1000s may operate in a way similar to reaction-diffusion systems at the nanoscale, while sophisticated microrobots may have individual capabilities that allow them to achieve swarm behaviour reminiscent of larger robots with memory, computation, and communication. Although the physics of these systems are fundamentally different, much of their emergent swarm behaviours can be abstracted to their ability to move and react to their local environment. This presents an opportunity to build a unified framework for the engineering of swarms across scales that makes use of machine learning to automatically discover suitable agent designs and behaviours, digital twins to seamlessly move between the digital and physical world, and user studies to explore how to make swarms safe and trustworthy. Such a framework would push the envelope of swarm capabilities, towards making swarms for people.

Sabine Hauert is Associate Professor (Reader) of Swarm Engineering at University of Bristol. She leads a team of 15+ researchers working on making swarms for people, and across scales, from nanorobots for cancer treatment, to larger robots for environmental monitoring, or logistics ( Before joining the University of Bristol, Sabine engineered swarms of nanoparticles for cancer treatment at MIT, and deployed swarms of flying robots at EPFL.

13.00 Lunch session. Media: Gathertown dining area.

13:30 Industry stands open. Media: Gathertown industry booths.

14:00 Student Poster Session 2 (CDT2). Media: Gathertown poster room.

15:00 Meet the alumni on zoom.

15:30 Keynote speaker Lydia Kavraki. Media: Zoom for talk and Q&A.

Lydia E. Kavraki is the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science, professor of Bioengineering, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University. She is the director of the Ken Kennedy Institute at Rice University.

Kavraki received her B.A. in Computer Science from the University of Crete in Greece and her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University working with Professor Jean-Claude Latombe. Her research interests span robotics, AI, and biomedicine. In robotics and AI, she is interested in enabling robots to work with people and in support of people. Her research develops the underlying methodologies for achieving this goal: algorithms for motion planning for high-dimensional systems with kinematic and dynamic constraints, integrated frameworks for reasoning under sensing and control uncertainty, novel methods for learning and for using experiences, and ways to instruct robots at a high level and collaborate with them. Kavraki’s lab is inspired by a variety of applications: from robots that will assist people in their homes, to robots that would build space habitats. In biomedicine she develops computational methods and tools to model protein structure and function, understand biomolecular interactions, aid the process of medicinal drug discovery, analyze the molecular machinery of the cell, and help integrate biological and biomedical data for improving human health. Her work has applications, among others, in personalized immunotherapy and in the design of novel therapeutics for asthma. Through the confluence of algorithms, statistical reasoning, formal methods, machine learning, data science and, importantly, physics modeling, Kavraki and her associates seek to understand how computers can reason effectively and robustly about problems in the real world.

16:20 Coffee break. Gathertown with lunch tables.

16:50 Reconvene on zoom for social event and competition

17.00 Keynote speaker Andra Keay. Media: Zoom for talk and Q&A.

Talk title: The Evolution of Modern Robotics

Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, the non-profit industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. She is a global ecosystem builder, a trained futurist, founder of the Good Robot Awards, Robot Launch global startup competition, Robot Garden maker space, Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, dedicated to growing ethical and equitable Autonomous Intelligent Systems (AIS). She has a background in Human-Robot Interaction, Interaction Design and Communications and is currently a Visiting Scholar with the UC’s CITRIS People and Robots Research Group.

17:30 Wrap-up and prize-giving (Prof Hastie and Prof. Mistry). Media: zoom.

17:30 Social continued (chat with Alumni). Media: Gathertown social area.


Friday, 1 October, 2021 - 10:00 to 17:30