International Workshop on Robotics, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Researchers, end users and technology developers attended the International Workshop on Robotics (IWR 2017) which took place on 30th and 31st March at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), São Paulo, Brazil.


This workshop, with a theme of “Robotics and automation: uncovering recent developments and applications on energy, industry, environment, agriculture, health and social settings” was organised jointly by Dr Patricia Vargas from Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and Professor Ely Carneiro de Paiva, from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Unicamp. 

IWR 2017 was an excellent opportunity for attendees to network with fellow roboticists and a world-class audience from universities, research institutions and industry. Speakers at the opening session of the workshop included Luis Augusto Barbosa Cortes, Executive Vice President of International Relations at Unicamp; Eulides de Mesquita Neto, of Fapesp; and Ely Paiva.

Patricia A. Vargas explained how developing robotics technology has many applications. For example, her research with Gabriela Castellano, from the Physics Institute at Unicamp and other colleagues at USP and UK involves developing a device that will improve the rehabilitation of hand movements for people who have suffered a stroke.

Professor David Lane, Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, attended as a special guest and spoke with Professor Milton Mori, from the Unicamp Innovation Agency about innovations within the UK energy industry.

IWR 2017, part of the SAS-ROGE project for developing cooperative swarm robotics, also reflected on the growth in robotics research not only in Brazil but globally,  and considered how new collaborative research opportunities might be stimulated, in particular between Scotland and Brazil.

Heriot-Watt University and Unicamp have been working together since 2014 to develop new technology as part of a collaboration agreement with São Paulo State Foundation for Support Research (FAPESP-SPRINT calls). However, Dr Vargas believes that the versatility of robotics and how it can be adapted to benefit a number of sectors including energy, industry, environment, agriculture, health and social care will open up further opportunities for collaboration.

As Dr Vargas explained:  "Fortunately funding agencies are looking for more research to be carried out that will have real impact in society. As a result of this, we are working towards creating robotics applications that will enable real changes in peoples’ lives through adoption of this technology".