Walking with Robots
An expert from the University of Sheffield has received national acclaim for his contributions to a project enabling the public to engage with advanced robotics.
The team behind the Walking with Robots programme, which includes Professor Noel Sharkey from the University’s Department of Computer Science and colleagues from University of West England and Sussex University, has received The Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Medal for its highly effective promotion of engineering.
The Award was presented at the Academy Awards Dinner at London’s Guildhall on Monday 7 June.
Walking with Robots has just completed a three-year programme of public events funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to address questions such as: What is a Robot? What do we want robots to do in the future? What can they do now? Can robots have personalities? Can a fully-functional conscious robot be developed? If so, would it be human? And should it have rights?”
Walking with Robots formed a network to bring key researchers on intelligent robotics together with leading science communicators to promote a wider public engagement with the reality of contemporary robotics research and with the people who do that research. The network – which now continues beyond the programme of live events – covers the UK’s most exciting areas of intelligent robotics research, including artificial consciousness, biomimetic (animal-like) robots, evolutionary and adaptive robots, climbing and walking robots, space and planetary robotics, swarm robotics and socially interactive robots.
With activities ranging from building robot gardens with schoolchildren to a pub guide to robots, the project involved people all over the UK, often engaging audiences in a two-way exchange with the robotics community. A public debate called ‘Robot Rights at the Dana Centre’ was sold out, drawing attention to the ethical questions raised by intelligent robotics technology. The Academy hosted a young people’s vision conference enabling 45 students from London schools to explore visions of their future and the part robots might play.
Professor Noel Sharkey, said: “Robotics is likely to have a major impact on our society over the next 20 years. Walking with Robots has given us the opportunity to present a credible picture of robotics to the public that dispels the dystopian myths and allays their fears. In this way we promote a genuine appreciation of the great innovations in UK robotics.”