It was a
full house of human beings that greeted several robotic entities at the IHPC
student seminar in March 2013. The theme of ‘Robotics: Beyond Human
Imagination’ had managed to attract upper secondary and junior college students
who wanted to understand the reality of robotics beyond what popular culture
and science fiction had shown them.
total, 341 students and 36 teachers from 24 schools turned up at the Genesix
Theatre at Fusionopolis to understand more about the robots and the science
behind robotics. And they were not disappointed.
Dr Martin Saerbeck and Dr Pramod Kumar Pisharady from
IHPC presented their cat-like robotic tutor, and went on to showcase how the
robot can be trained to interact with students and as a tutor, help them to
learn. They shared some insights about the A.I. (artificial intelligence)
programming and even the gesture recognition system that helps the robot to better
‘understand’ human behaviour.
Dr Han Boon Siew from the Institute for Infocomm
Research (I2R) brought
along Hubo the dancing robot with tai chi skills, and discussed the history of
robotics – and also shared his thoughts on how robots will play an increasingly
important role in future.
Rounding up the presentations was Dr Zhou Changjiu from the Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Control
Centre of Singapore Polytechnic.
He brought along several soccer-playing robots to
illustrate the “Humanoid Robot: Design Challenge”, and shared some insights in
the physics behind bipedal robots.
The speakers also joined a panel discussion to
handle questions from the students.
The questions were compiled using the
Pigeonhole Live service that allowed the audience to post their queries via
their smart phones and mobile devices. Thankfully, the students rose to the
challenge by posing several questions relating to robotic technologies and
presenters gamely answered to the best of their expertise, giving insightful
replies that were, of course, far from robotic.