Looking ahead toward the future of robotics

Looking ahead toward the future of robotics

Robotics is one of the most exciting fields of technology today, presenting new applications for autonomous systems that can impact everyday life.

Three Stanford University professors - Jeannette Bohg, Marco Pavone and Dorsa Sadigh - recently sat down to discuss the opportunities and challenges in robotics and autonomous technology. With tons of hands-on experience developing new use cases for autonomous systems and machinery, as well as addressing existing obstacles, the trio is uniquely qualified to discuss the future of robotics.

Watch the webinar

This compelling webinar highlights the incredible potential of this technology and gives viewers a sense of how it may be incorporated into the real world. Here’s a taste of this discussion:

Engineers must overcome autonomous obstacles

Robotic machines have come a long way, but they still face a great deal of challenges that stand in the way of more widespread deployment. The trio touched upon a few of the most pressing issues that robotic engineers and autonomous system developers need to address:

  • Human behavior introduces an enormous number of variables that are difficult to account for with existing models. It’s difficult to program autonomous systems to safely function in the real world when they cannot anticipate how people will act or respond to them. Professor Sadigh gave the example of self-driving cars, noting that the unpredictability of human drivers continues to present a roadblock in this area.
  • Anticipating problems in human-computer interaction during the design stage is extremely difficult. Both generalization and specialization of robot behavior is necessary to enable autonomous machines to appropriately respond to different situations and build trust with people.
  • Robotic machines require a large amount of data to guide its decision-making and help engineers design more detailed behavioral models. While AI and natural language processing applications can quickly gather and process information, a physical robot will require more time to gather data from its environment. In addition, machines need to be able to collect data safely without disrupting the world - or people - around it.

Despite these challenges, all three speakers continue to be excited about the future of this technology and the opportunity to find working solutions.

Incredible application opportunities on the horizon

Autonomous systems are already widespread in industrial and manufacturing environments, and self-driving cars have started appearing on roads across the country. That is just the beginning, however.

The professors discussed several applications that would bring robotic machines into everyday life:

  • Healthcare robots that could assist in patient care, especially with elderly populations.
  • Office assistants that would take care of menial tasks in the workplace.
  • Autonomous machines designed for the rigors of space exploration.
  • Agricultural robots capable of maintaining farmland and harvesting crops unattended.

They noted that to realize the full potential of this technology, engineers need to account for various concentrations that have historically been siloed away from one another: motion, perception, human-computer interaction, etc. Stanford University’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Graduate Certificate course integrates these disparate disciplines to create a comprehensive curriculum around robotics engineering.

Watch full webinar

This webinar covers this discussion in much more detail. Be sure to check it out when you have a moment. If you would like to learn more about robotics, the work being done in this field and how it can be applied to the real world, consider enrolling in Stanford’s online professional development program.

Every class is taught by a respected industry expert who can go beyond theoretical knowledge and show students how to leverage this technology themselves. Self-driving cars and automobile manufacturing machinery is just the beginning for autonomous systems. Get started with an online education today to gain the skills and experience needed to excel in this field.