Next generation robots for human-centric workplaces
Robots have long worked in factory environments, separated from humans and left to perform repetitive tasks in highly controlled workplaces. However, a major shift is taking place. Robots are moving beyond the factory floor to work in less predictable workplaces, shared with humans.
This shift is demanding a new generation of robots that act autonomously and intelligently and are capable of safely performing tasks in real-world environments.
Dr. Stephen L. Smith, Canada Research Chair in Autonomous Systems, is working to develop the intelligence and planning algorithms that will power this next generation of robots.
His research is tackling some of the fundamental challenges in creating robots that can seamlessly operate in human-centric environments.
Smith’s research seeks to create robots that possess several key capabilities. They should be capable of reacting to unexpected changes in the environment without delay.
They should improve their performance over time, leveraging their experience to predict future changes and re-optimize their plans. And, they should be able to communicate with users, understand the task they have been assigned, and even ask questions when more information is needed.
The goal of this research is to create robots that can be integrated directly into the current infrastructure, without requiring custom facilities. This would greatly expand the range of industries where autonomous systems can be deployed, enabling applications in agriculture, self-driving vehicles, flexible manufacturing and beyond.