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Connecting the Bots

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April 23–24, 2014
Boston, Massachusetts

field trip
April 25, 2014
iRobot Corporation

Library Selection
Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread—The Lessons from a New Science by Alex Pentland



Tuesday, April 22
6:00 PM
First Timers Pre-Reception Welcome
6:30 PM
Reception and Dinner (Dinner at 7:00 pm)

Wednesday, April 23
7:30 AM


8:30 AM
Conference Welcome
Len Kleinrock, TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
8:45 AM
Conference Overview
Ken Hertz, TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
9:00 AM
Evan Ackerman, Senior Writer, IEEE Spectrum
Topic: A Review of 2013 in Robotics and What 2014 Has in Store
Why Amazon's delivery drones won't work, and won't for a long time; the surprising DARPA Robotics Challenge; and why Google keeps snapping up robotics companies are just some of the topics to be discussed in this video-intensive overview.
9:45 AM
Manuela Veloso, Herbert A. Simon Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
Topic: Symbiotic Autonomy: Robots, Humans, and the Web
Autonomous mobile robots that coexist and interact with humans while performing tasks that require perception, cognition, and action are still far from common. Veloso and her students in the CMU School of Computer Science have introduced and developed "symbiotic autonomous" mobile service robots, which they call "CoBots." The robots are robustly autonomous in their localization and navigation, and handle their limitations by proactively asking for help from humans, accessing the web for missing knowledge, and coordinating with other robots. Such symbiotic autonomy has enabled the CoBot robots to move in multi-floor buildings performing a variety of service tasks, including escorting visitors, and transporting packages between locations, currently for hundreds of kilometers.
10:20 AM
10:50 AM

Marco Tempest, Virtual Magician, Newmagic Communications
Topic: Robot Magic: Creating the Illusion of the Thinking Machine
Long before "robot" was a word or a single computer could play chess, magicians and showmen had been exhibiting machines that could, apparently, think. Perhaps the most famous example is Wolfgang von Kempelen's Mechanical Turk, which toured Europe in the late 1700s and took on all-comers at chess. It usually won. It was, of course, a fake. The idea that deception might be integral to the creation of thinking machines was first articulated by Alan Turing: "A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human." It is, in other words, not enough to create a robot that is smarter than us. We need to be able to engage comfortably with such a machine, to trust it, and, ultimately, to empathize with it. Perhaps it is here that the illusions of the magician can help fill in the gaps between our goals and our technological capabilities. Using a Rethink Robotics Baxter robot, magician Marco Tempest and students at the MIT Media Lab have come to better understand human-robot interaction. Tempest will show Baxter in action, and discuss the technical challenges of creating the illusion of cooperation, trust, and intelligence.

11:30 AM
Russ Tedrake, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and CSAIL, MIT
Topic: Dynamics and Control for Supermaneuverable UAVs and the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, held in December 2013, provided a landmark demonstration of dexterous mobile robots executing a variety of tasks aided by a remote human operator using only data from the robot's sensor suite transmitted over a constrained, field-realistic communications link—all of which was developed on a highly compressed schedule. The Team MIT design emphasized human interaction with an efficient motion planner, where operators expressed desired robot actions in terms of affordances fit using perception and manipulated in a custom user interface.

12:10 PM
Members' Working Lunch
1:25 PM
Steve Cousins, Chief Executive Officer, Savioke and former President, Willow Garage
Topic: Service Robots
In the 1950s, humanoid robots were all the rage... in fiction. Starting in the 1960s, and for the past 50 years, a particular type of robot has been used to build our cars and automate assembly lines: the industrial robot arm. Industrial robots do their job quickly, precisely, and repeatably, working safely behind safety cages. Robot technology has finally progressed to the point where robots can work around people safely, and computers have gotten fast enough to begin to make sense of what a robot sees and act on it in real time. As a result, we're about to see a whole new breed of robot working among people in human environments—places people eat, sleep, work and play. This talk will explore both the technical enablers and the business imperatives that will drive a new industry in service robotics.
2:05 PM
Catherine Mohr, Senior Director of Medical Research, Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Topic: Rise of the Bots: Robots, Surgeons, and Disruption
Surgery is an area in which robotics has radically affected both the surgeon's and the patient's experience of surgery, and accelerated the adoption of minimally invasive surgery. But is it a disruptive technology?
2:45 PM

Marvin Minsky, Professor, MIT; Gary Marcus, Professor, New York University; and Doug Lenat, TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
Topic: How Far Are We From Strong AI? A Conversation with Marvin Minsky
3:20 PM
3:50 PM
Daniela Rus, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT
Topic: The Robots are Coming
In this talk I will discuss recent development in building robots, focusing on progress in automating the design of robots from functional specifications and applications in human-centered environments: in the home, in manufacturing, and in transportation.
4:25 PM
Alex Reben, Artist & Roboticist
Topic: The Needy Robot and Our Relationship with Emotional Machines
5:00 PM
Preview - Euronext
5:15 PM
Close of First Day
6:30 PM

Reception and Dinner (Dinner at 7:00 pm)

Thursday, April 24
7:30 AM


8:15 AM
Bob Lucky, TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
8:30 AM
Colin Angle, Chief Executive Officer, iRobot
Topic: Robots Are Disrupting Markets Worldwide
Robots are now disrupting multiple markets worldwide. What has it taken for the industry to get this point? What does it take to create a successful business based solely on robots? By focusing on practical applications, usefulness and value, robots are impacting a variety of sectors, including consumer, agriculture, logistics, defense, healthcare and the enterprise. What specific applications, market conditions and technologies will help to grow the robotics industry even further in the years ahead? And how will they continue to change the way we all live our lives?
9:10 AM
Brian David Johnson, Futurist, Intel
Topic: Jimmy the 21st-Century Robot
9:50 AM
10:20 AM
Maja Matarić, Chaired Professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience and Pediatrics, University of Southern California
Topic: Creating Robots That (Provide) Care
How are we going to close the vast "care gap" created by our growing elderly population, the obesity epidemic, the rapid increase in social disorders in children, and the millions of other people with special needs requiring one-on-one customized, affordable, long-term care? Help can come in the form of Socially Assistive Robotics (SAR), a new interdisciplinary area that focuses on the development of non-contact methodologies for assistive human-robot interaction. These "robots that care" use social rather than physical interaction to monitor, coach, and motivate such users as Alzheimer's patients, stroke victims, and children with autism.
11:00 AM
John Long, Professor of Biology and Chair of Biology, Vassar College
Topic: Robots, Evolution, and Complexity
In evolutionary systems, we see populations change automatically—without input from human engineers. Individuals in the system adjust their behavior in response to dynamic physical interaction with their worlds. [In some situations] these pressures force increased complexity in organisms over time. To understand exactly how these mechanisms work, we create robotic mimics of animals; for example, we can test how many vertebrae are optimum in a predatory fish. We can put their robotic equivalents in a water tank and watch them survive—or not. We'll discuss two case studies of experiments on physically-embodied fish-like robots that provide both lessons for automatically designing robots and for better understanding biological evolution.
11:35 AM
James Barrat, Documentary Filmmaker
Topic: Our Final Invention and the End of the Human Era
In 2000, Barrat interviewed Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, and Arthur C. Clarke about runaway AI. While Kurzweil and Brooks dismissed the idea, Clarke told him "I think it's just a matter of time before machines dominate mankind. Intelligence will win out." Before machine intelligence matches our own, we must develop a science for understanding and coexisting with smart, even superintelligent machines. If we fail, we'll be stuck in an unwinnable dilemma. We'll have to rely on the kindness of machines to survive. Will machines naturally love us and protect us? Should we bet our existence on it?
12:10 PM
Members' Working Lunch
1:25 PM
TTI/Vanguard Announcements
1:30 PM

Jim Gimzewski, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles
Topic: Building a Brain: The Atomic Switch Network
The human brain is totally different from a computer in almost every conceivable manner making the emulation of intelligence pretty difficult. We have conceived, built and tested a radically new approach directly inspired by the brain: Atomic Switch Networks. Using nanotechnology we created tens of billions of synthetic neurons connected in dense neuropil-like network architecture. Emergent behaviors akin to brain function are observed such as spatially distributed memory, recurrent dynamics and the activation of feed forward sub-networks. ASN's have functional characteristics required for implementing unconventional, biologically and neurally inspired computational methodologies in a synthetic experimental system. I discuss where its headed and what we can expect in terms of physically intelligent machines.

2:05 PM
Joe Schlesinger, Founder, ArcBotics, and Founder & Director, MakeIt Labs
Topic: Your Laptop Is a Factory: Robots Building Robots
Hexy the Hexapod is a fully articulated hexapod robot kit that's one-tenth the price of other hexapod kits. Hexy has six legs, 19 servo motors, is powered by Arduino, and is commanded with easy instructions like "rotate right 40 deg." It was built with completely open source hardware and software. Its original Kickstarter campaign sought $13,000 and closed with $168,267 in pledges. Hexy is being made in China by a two-person company—something only possible with an automated production line powered by—of course!—robots.
2:40 PM
Conference Reflections
Bob Lucky, TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
3:00 PM
Close of Conference
6:00 PM


Friday, April 25
7:30 AM


8:30 AM
Field trip to iRobot Headquarters, Bedford, Mass.
12:30 PM
Box Lunch
1:00 PM
Departure for airport and return to hotel

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