Robotics comes into ‘maturity’ at annual ICRA conference

Robotics comes into ‘maturity’ at annual ICRA conference

Robotics comes into ‘maturity’ at annual ICRA conference

Written by Reuters

21 May, 2019 | 10:42 am

Reuters –  Forget fantasies of humanoid robots living equally amongst us, for now. The latest trend in robotics and artificial intelligence isn’t looking ahead to science fiction scenarios but is trying instead to perfect and fully deploy technology that’s actually been around for a few years.

That was one of the big take-aways on Monday (May 20) at the 2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation taking place in Montreal this year.

Frontline researchers and firms are focussing heavily on technology that can be deployed more robustly into our everyday lives and with little or no risk of failure, the robotisists say.

Think self driving cars that will never crash or humanoids that won’t bump into the people they’ll be working alongside in giant fulfillment warehouses.

“I think from a scientific basis we’re seeing systems that don’t do just simple narrow tasks but generalized across multiple tasks,” conference chair Greg Dudek told Reuters about this year’s big robotics trend. “They do things like understand the causes and the effects of what they do,” he said about the latest generation robots.

Dr. Anqi Xu of Canadian firm Element AI calls this year’s big trend the “democratization of artificial intelligence”.

“Things that have really been researched at different academic labs and now they’re maturing and entering real world applications,” he told Reuters.

ICRA organizers say the other big trends for 2019 include the impact of e-commerce in driving robotics research and development, medical robots designed to take care of the sick or elderly, robots that will monitor climate change, plus advances in how robots interact with humans on an emotional and psychological basis.

“Robots that learn about people,” says Dudek. “By learning about what people want and what they need, they serve them better. And that’s a huge emerging trend,” he says.

But Dudek adds that some of the robots unveiled at ICRA won’t be deployed to the public for another five or even ten years. Still, he says the pace of progress is accelerating.

Companies large and small, from Amazon and Uber to young startups, will be showing off their advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence all week at ICRA, which runs from May 20th through the 24 at the city’s convention center. It’s the first time the conference, now in its 35th year, comes to Canada.

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