Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have always been a fascinating field that is often over-shadowed by the image portrayed in popular media. When you say the word ‘robot’, most likely something such as the Terminator will pop into your head, or the more child-friendly Wall-E. However, it is vastly different from what it is in the real world. Robotics and AI is something that could transform so many aspects of our day to day lives. In some ways, it already does. Roombas, Alexa, Siri, Cortana, these are all examples that we use right now. Odds are you use one yourself or know someone who does.
As part of the Edinburgh Science Festival , we were invited by Dr Lindsay Wilson of the National Robotarium and Sara Dodd of Heriot-Watt University to attend the ‘How Robots Will Help Us In The Future’ talk, hosted at the National Museum of Scotland. After getting to see ‘Spot’, a quadrupedal robot dog with a knack for lifting demonstrate its impressive abilities, the discussion provided an eye-opener into the field. The CEO of the Robotarium Stewart Miller shared a look at the world leading robotics and AI facility, from which pioneering research will help bring the newest innovations and move them from the laboratory to one day providing benefits to all of society.
Meanwhile, Professors Lynn Baillie and Thusha Rajendran explained how robotics and AI can help benefit us and where the field may go in the future. It is incredible to not only hear but see how it can be applied in ways you may not have considered before. Examples in healthcare include the rehabilitation of patients from major injuries or in monitoring in case someone has a fall and needs assistance. It is incredible to see a robot that can not only be alerted when someone needs assistance, but can quickly assess to see if they are conscious, how they may have injured themselves and if they need emergency aid.
With these advancements and breakthroughs, it is amazing to think not just what robotics and AI will be able to do in a decade, but what can be achieved in the next year alone.
Here at the Bayes Centre where Effini is based, it is also home to the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, which is well worth a look if you are ever here. It is incredible to see what is created and worked on in there, such as the TALOS and Valkyrie robots. And now there is an entire complex dedicated to robotics and AI.
It’s an exciting time for the field, and it is great to see that Edinburgh is a leading area for its innovation and development of new talent.