Global Agenda Council on Robotics & Smart Devices 2012-2013
Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of mechanical or virtually-intelligent agents. A robot is broadly defined as any human-made device or system capable of carrying out a task that specifically requires actuation. Use of robots in factories, military drones, deep-sea and outer-space exploratory vehicles, minimally invasive surgical systems, autonomous cars, automated vacuum cleaners and exoskeletal artificial limbs shows the wide range of fields where robots already play a significant role.
Smart devices, on the other hand, are electronic devices with embedded computing capabilities. These are becoming ubiquitous. The 4 billion mobile phones and the many more sensor and other computing devices that already populate the planet today showcase the increasing importance of smart devices.
During the past year, very real successes in robot technologies have meant that robotics can now move past an exclusive focus on technical innovation and applications towards a focus on integration with other devices, with humans, and with society.
Robots and smart devices have traditionally been developed as tools that people control. Progress has generally been driven by technical innovation and applications in manufacturing, search and rescue, exploration, health, the military and the entertainment industry. These applications are either enabled or rendered more productive by these tools.
However, among the many practical and important applications of robotics, unintended social consequences have also arisen. For example, in some economies, productivity improvements due to robots have inspired fear in workers of losing their jobs. Autonomous robots like military drones heighten the risks of war when machines that cannot think or feel like humans take over the tasks of highly-trained, ethically-grounded human beings. The discussion on the opportunities that robots and smart devices offer and the risks they pose is highly relevant and timely.
- Total smartphone shipment volumes reached 491.4 million units in 2011, up a strong 61.3% from 304.7 million units in 2010.
- North American robotics companies sold more robots in 2011 than ever before, with a total of 19,337 robots valued at US$ 1.17 billion sold to companies within North America.
- In March 2012, Amazon acquired all outstanding shares of Kiva Systems, a robotics material handling company, for approximately US$ 775 million.
“Human-centred design is all about allying design to behavioural sciences and cutting-edge technologies to come up with solutions that really work for real people. That means that, in addition to focusing on the most innovative technological solutions, it is also about designing solutions to key problems by accounting for how humans work, think, perceive, and interact.”
Justine Cassell, Charles M. Geschke Director, Human Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
“We are at the cusp of a revolution: we can now create machines that adapt their behaviour based on their environment and the results of their actions. The enablers for this revolution are sensing, communication, and computation technologies, and the feedback control algorithms that rule the machines. These creations will have unprecedented effects on our lives – some welcome, others not.”
Raffaello D’Andrea, Professor, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Rader, E., Echelbarger, M. Cassell, J. "Brick by Brick: Iterating Interventions to Bridge the Achievement Gap with Virtual Peers". In Proceedings of the CHI'11 Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, 9-12 May 2011
Chua, Kee Chaing, Gurusamy, Mohan and Liu, Yong. Quality of Service in Optical Burst Switched Networks. Springer, 2006
Oung, R. and D'Andrea, R. The Distributed Flight Array. Mechatronics, 2011, Volume 21: Pages 908-917
9th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots and Ambient Intelligence
26-28 November 2012
Deajeon, Republic of Korea
12th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots
29 November-1 December 2012
International Conference on Control Automation Robotics & Vision
5-7 December 2012
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
6-10 May 2013
The Council on Robotics & Smart Devices is aiming at an international action plan on global activities to integrate robotics and smart devices into society, complete with all of their technical, economic and social dimensions. With accelerated development and deployment, robotics and smart devices have the potential to significantly benefit global society.
The Council has therefore proposed a new model to drive the global transformation of the role of robotics and smart devices. The model highlights both risks and opportunities, appeals to and involves multiple stakeholders, and depends on an intrinsically multidisciplinary approach towards robotics and smart devices.
The dimensions of the model will be:
- Social: a psychological and sociological understanding of people's needs, desires, capabilities and traits, and a cognitive understanding of the physical and behavioural dimensions of “humanness”.
- Technical: developing and deploying actuated, sensor and communication devices as a function of the social dimension.
- Economic: developing an entrepreneurial culture and supporting entrepreneurs who can succeed at companies that follow this model.
- Legal: developing regulatory structures around robots in society.
- Cultural: ensuring that this model functions globally and in all cultural contexts.
Research Analyst: Rigas Hadzilacos, Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Manager: Stephanie Nassenstein, Programme Manager, Global Agenda Development, Stephanie.Nassenstein@weforum.org
Forum Lead: Martina Gmür, Senior Director, Head of the Network of Global Agenda Councils, email@example.com