Friday, June 14, 2013

The Space Centre!

Yesterday was the best day EVER. I went to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and heard a lecture about robots!

Dr. Elizabeth Croft from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia gave a lecture on human-robot interaction as part of a Women in Science initiative. It's almost like the event was made for me!

Not only was it really cool to hear about the kinds of things she was working on, but some of it is actually kind of relevant to my upcoming 41X project.

A few of the highlights:

  • People understand the rules for sharing a space (i.e. what to do when both reaching into a bowl of popcorn) and how people have trouble responding to this when it happens with a robot. However, when robots are programmed to show hesitation, like people do, the people respond better to them. This personifies the robot and makes people want to work with them, like they would a person.
  • A strong form of communication is gesturing and it can transcend language (or be useful in noisy industrial areas . . . or even underwater!). Her research has shown that if robots gesture properly, people can completely understand what the robot is asking them to do.
  • Human balance is based on "sensors" and "actuators": vision, the vestibular system and proprioception, and muscles. The combination of all of these sensors allows us to balance and correct ourselves because it acts like a feedback system.

Before the lecture, I also got to check out a bit of the museum, from the Russian space shuttle look-alike  to the astronauts hanging from the roof.

This is my new favourite place!

No comments:

Post a Comment