Robotics in the 21st Century


The huge challenges facing scientists building some of the world's most sophisticated robots were explored at the latest in the Queen's Academic Lecture programme.

Dr Anuradha Ranasinghe revealed how robot design and engineering is now drawing on a huge range of academic disciplines including physics, mathematics, materials science and even psychology.

"If we are to have robots that work with humans then we need to understand how humans respond to them if they are to interact successfully," said Dr Ranasinge, a lecturer in Robotics at Liverpool Hope University. "This is why we must engage with areas like psychology if we are to make machines that can do the same work as humans."

Dr Ranasinge has previously worked at King's College London and at Guy's Hospital on the Da Vinci robot that is pioneering robotic surgery.

"Robots are still not good at doing things that we as humans take for granted.  For example it is difficult to get a robot even to stand up and walk in the same way as a human," Dr Ranasinge added. "Perfecting many of these things is the big challenge facing robotics over coming years."

Year 12 student Carmen said: "The talk was very technical in parts but it was a brilliant reminder of just how much complex research is going in to these new and exciting machines."