Robotics Talks

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This year ICRS will be hosting several high quality talks and discussion panels on the topics of robotics and technology. We hope to bring prominent experts to Imperial College from across the UK and even worldwide in order to share ideas and foster new relationships. Keep a lookout for posters placed around the campus, announcements on the mailing list and of course this page for new events!

Calendar of Confirmed Events

Bio-Inspired Robotics


Freely open to all Imperial College members. Please note registration is only for non-Imperial members, and can be done here.

20th November 2013 (Wed) 5:00 pm Electrical Engineering Department Room 408

Nature has given birth to many wonderful creatures that have extraordinary abilities, such as the power of flight or the ability to scale cliffs. How can these abilities be incorporated into robotics and how will they affect the development of robotics in the future?

Guest Speakers

Dr. Ravi Vaidyanathan is a Senior Lecturer in Bio-Mechatronics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London. He has researched a broad field of topics involving biorobotics, neural modelling and human-machine interface. His research has been recognized internationally and has been given awards by many institutes such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Rob Siddall is a graduate student in the Department of Aeronautics Engineering here at Imperial. He was involved in many research regarding the fields of biorobotics.

These experts from the field of robotics will describe some of the works they did. Then there will be a discussion panel where the audience will join in and ask any questions related to the bio-inspired robotics.

Catered reception to follow.

Past Events

The Future Of Robotics

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16th October 2012 (Tue) 6:00pm Electrical Engineering Department Room 408

Robotics is a rapidly advancing field with more and more robots being used in industry, military and even beginning to enter our homes. We have come so far in the last few decades and robots are continually becoming smarter, faster and better. Where will this research lead us in the future and how will it impact us all?

Guest Speakers

Proffessor Murray Shanahan is professor of cognitive robotics here at imperial, in the department of computing. He is involved in cognitive architecture, simulating networks of neurons in computers and robotics. He has researched the human mind and tried to relate that to robotic mind (AI).

Dr Clair Rocks has worked extensively in promoting robotics to the public. She managed the Walking with Robots network to help support research and reach public audiences. She has attended the Chelteham Science festival several times and worked on the Bloodhound project. An attempt to create the fastest car ever, travelling 1000 kilometers per hour.

Dr. Claire Rocks managed the Cheltenham Science festival and worked on the Bloodhound Project.

Richard Greenhill is the chairman of Shadow Robotics and has built many award winning robots including a drawing and educational robot. He has helped to develop high precision air mussels which are used extensively in his companies robots. One of their most famous robots, the shadow hand is an incredibly dexterous robotic hand capable of performing almost every motion of a human hand and handling delicate equipment.

The experts from the field of robots will describe some of the works they did. Then there will be a discussion panel where the audience will join in and ask any questions related to the future of robotics.

Catered reception to follow, food provided by (subway).

Example questions

  • Drones are already being used by the US military Do you see wars of the future being fought primarily with robots or human controlled robots?
  • Many are afraid of robots and computers making people increasingly redundant. Do you agree with this or are their roles which will never truly be automated?
  • Do you see cybernetics augments, such as microchip IDs or uplinks to the internet, as becoming common place in the near future?

Robotics at Life's Edges

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13th Mar 2012 (Tue) 6:00pm Electrical Engineering Department Room 611

by Dr. Yiannis Demiris, Senior Lecturer at the Intelligent System and Networks Group

Robots are increasingly establishing their credibility as useful assistants outside traditional industrial environments, with new challenges emerging for intelligent robotics research. To personalise the interaction with human users, robots need to develop life-long user models that can be used to recognise human actions, predict human intentions and assist intelligently, while constantly adapting to changing human profiles. In this talk, I will draw inspiration from biological systems and describe our latest advances in embodied social cognition mechanisms for humanoid robots, and describe their application towards adaptive robotic assistants for children and adults with disabilities.

We would also like to express our thanks to the Old Centralians' Trust for sponsoring this event.

Design & Build a UAV at the click of a button

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13th Dec 2011 (Tue) 6:10pm Electrical Engineering Department LT 408

by Dr. Dirk Gorissen, Systems Architect and Research Fellow at Computational Engineering and Design Research Group, University of Southampton

Designing an efficient and performant UAV is a multidisciplinary undertaking, requiring codes, solvers, & expertise from a wide range of domains. Unfortunately it is quite rare to find tightly integrated tool chains and current trade-off decisions are strongly biased towards short-term performance criteria as opposed to long term cost and environmental impact. The DECODE project at the University of Southampton aims to change this by integrating early concept design exploration with full resolution, geometry backed, design analysis, detailed manufacturing and operations models. The goal is to have a fully automated end-2-end UAV design system that can be used to rapidly design custom built UAVs that can be quickly and cheaply manufactured using techniques like 3D printing. Our main case study is the use of UAVs for search and rescue but we are also working on other use cases with the BBC and Met Office. Our work has recently been covered by the New Scientist when we flew the worlds first printed aircraft.

How does IBM Watson work?

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6th Dec 2011 (Tue) 6:10pm Physics department LT1

by Dale Lane developer for IBM working on Watson. also a mobile and gadget geek, father of two small girls and a youth charity trustee."

Earlier this year, IBM entered a computer system, Watson, into a US television game show "Jeopardy!" where it could compete in a cryptic quiz show against the show's best human contestants.

The project explored an important question with very real business implications: Can a computer system be designed to apply and extend advanced analytics to a disparate array of unstructured data and natural language content in order to discover and accurately evaluate a single, reliable insight — and do this in just seconds? The next test will be to apply the underlying data management and analytics technology to solve important business problems. Learn about the DeepQA technologies behind Watson, and the implications that they have for business.

Large Scale Navigation with Vision and Laser

1 Nov 2011 (Tue) 6:30pm

by Prof. Paul Newman (Professor of Mobile Robotics, Oxford University),

Autonomous electric podcars are lauchned at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 carrying approximately 800 passengers each weekday. With the support from Google, autonomous vehicles might be operated legally operated on public roads in Nevada from 1st March 2012. How will the life-long robotics effect on transport? Professor Paul Newman will talk about this as the first half of our event.

check here to know more about Professor Newman and his projects.

Robot Companions as Home Assistants

1 Nov 2011 (Tue) 7:15pm

by Dr. Kheng Lee Koay (Research fellow in Adaptive Systems, University of Hertfordshire)

How do we create a new computer technology that supports long-term relationships between humans and synthetic companions? How do people react to a familiar companion when it migrates from a robot body into a virtual form, for example on a mobile PDA screen? Dr. Kheng Lee Koay will talk about the LIREC project he did in solving these problems.

Check here to know more about Dr. Koay and his research projects.

Should we fear AI?

  • Date: 18 Oct 2011 (Tue)
  • Guests: Prof. Kevin Warwick (University of Reading), Prof. Illah Nourbakhsh (Carnegie Mellon university), Prof. Alan Winfield (University of the West of England, Bristol) and Prof. Owen Holland (University of Sussex)
  • feedback:* "a great debate and full lecture theatre last night. And terrific questions." -- Alan Winfield via Twiter

"You should double your sponsership to them!" --Illah Nourbakhsh to Peter Cheung(head of EEE department)

Confirmed coming speakers

Rich Walker from Shadow Robotics

Professor Guang-Zhong Yang from Imperial College DoC personal webpage

Dr. Yiannis Demiris from Imperial College EEE Robotics Research Group

Dr. Fredinando Rodriguez from Imperial College Mechatronics in Medicine Laboratory