Invited Speakers

Most robotics researchers ultimately want their research to contribute to real world applications of robotics. The challenge of robots in human society is not robots taking jobs from people, but there being not enough robots to support human society in the future as the great demographic inversion takes place across the world. For robots to be useful in our future society we must make progress on the three "M"s of robotics. Mobilty, Manipulation, and Messiness.
RODNEY BROOKS is the Panasonic Professor of Robotics (emeritus) at MIT. He is a robotics entrepreneur and Founder, Chairman and CTO of Rethink Robotics. He is also a Founder, former Board Member (1990 – 2011) and former CTO (1990 – 2008) of iRobot Corp (Nasdaq: IRBT). Dr. Brooks is the former Director (1997 – 2007) of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and then the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received degrees in pure mathematics from the Flinders University of South Australia and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1981. He has published many papers in computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics, and artificial life. He was co-founding editor of the International Journal of Computer Vision and is a member of the editorial boards of various journals including Adaptive Behavior, Artificial Life, Applied Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Robots and New Generation Computing. He starred as himself in the 1997 Errol Morris movie “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” named for one of his scientific papers, a Sony Classics picture, available on DVD.

Rodney Brooks

Enabling robots for direct physical interaction and cooperation with humans has been one of robotics research primary goals over decades. I will outline how our work on human-centered robot design, control, and planning may let robots for humans become a commodity in our near-future society. For this, we developed new generations of impedance controlled lightweight robots, previously at DLR, now in my new lab, which are sought to safely act as human assistants and collaborators over a variety of application domains. These may e.g. involve industrial assembly and manufacturing, medical assistance, or house-hold helpers in everyone's home. The latest generation of lightweight robots was recently commercialized as the KUKA LBR iiwa, which is considered to be the first commercial representative of this new class of robots. However, there is so much more to be tackled than mechatronics design alone. Clearly, a robot has to be equipped with the skills to perceive its surrounding and deduct according actions for successfully carrying out its given task. At the same time the primary objective of a robot's action around humans is to ensure that even in case of malfunction or user errors no human shall be harmed because of the robot's action or inaction. For this, instantaneous, safe, and intelligent context based reaction paired with according subsequent actions to unforeseen events in partially unknown environments become crucial. I will outline how far we have come with the aforementioned research problems till today, which major hurdles are still ahead, and what can be expected from near-to-midterm future research.
SAMI HADDADIN is full professor and director of the Institute of Automatic Control (IRT) at Leibniz University Hanover, Germany. Previously, he was the Scientific Coordinator of the “Human-Centered Robotics” group at the Robotics and Mechatronics Center of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Lecturer at Technical University of Munich (TUM). In 2011 he was a visiting scholar at Stanford University and consulting scientist of Willow Garage, Inc., Palo Alto till 2013. He received degrees in Electrical Engineering (2006), Computer Science (2009), and Technology Management (2008) from TUM and Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (LMU), respectively. He obtained his PhD with summa cum laude from RWTH Aachen in 2011. His research topics include physical Human-Robot Interaction, nonlinear robot control, real-time motion planning, real-time task and reflex planning, robot learning, optimal control, human motor control, variable impedance actuation, and safety in robotics. He was in the program/organization committee of several international robotics conferences and a guest editor of International Journal of Robotics Research. He published almost 100 scientific articles in international journals, conferences, and books. Recently, his book “Towards Safe Robots: Approaching Asimov’s 1st Law” was published. Among other things, he received five best paper and video awards at ICRA/IROS, the 2008 Literati Best Paper Award, the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2011, and the 2012 George Giralt Award. He won the IEEE Transactions on Robotics King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Paper Award in 2012. Furthermore, he was a finalist of the 2009 Robotdalen Scientific Award, IROS 2010 Best Application Paper Award, and 2012 SfN BCI Award.