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Robotics: Beyond Human Imagination

01 Mar 2013

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.

In 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 trends.

The presenters gamely answered to the best of their expertise, giving insightful replies that were, of course, far from robotic.