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AIC Seminar Series

Intelligent Social Robots: Realising their Potential

Mary-Anne WilliamsFounder and Director, Innovation and Enterprise Research Lab, QCIS, University of Technology Sydney (UTS)[Home Page]

Notice:  Hosted by Richard Waldinger

Date:  Tuesday, March 29th 2016 at 4:00pm

Location:  EK255 (SRI E building)  (Directions)


Social robots must be able to interact and collaborate with people. The McKinsey Global Institute (2013) identified robots as a disruptive technology, i.e. "an advance that will transform life, business, and the global economy". Robots are expected to impact more than $9-trillion in "value pools" by 2025. Robots today are seriously deficient in their ability to become a disruptive technology. They are dangerous and stupid. In the workplace they are kept in cages or confined to protect human co-workers, on the road they are challenged by complex situations.

In this talk I will highlight the scientific challenges that need to be addressed before we can build robots that can interact and collaborate with people safely and fluently. I will discuss the kinds of problems social robots face in the workplace and the capabilities a social robot would require to work with people. I will describe an innovative social robot software stack under development in the Magic Lab that we use in the development of robust social robot behaviours suitable for complex and dynamic human-environments.

   Bio for Mary-Anne Williams

Professor Mary-Anne Williams is listed on the Robohub’s top 25 women in robotics. She has a PhD in Computer Science and a Masters in Law. Mary-Anne is a Fellow at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and a leading authority on Knowledge Representation and Reasoning with transdisciplinary strengths in AI, Social Robotics, Cognitive Robotics, Machine Learning, IP Law and Privacy Law. She is Founder and Director of the Magic Lab at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS); a Fellow in the Stanford University Centre for Legal Informatics; Fellow if the Guest Professor at the University of Science and Technology China. Mary-Anne chaired the Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research for Australia Committee that undertook a national evaluation of research in Mathematics, Information and Computing Sciences in 2012. She serves on the board of KR Inc., was Conference Chair of the International Conference on Social Robotics in 2014 and KR 2004, and serves on the Editorial Board for AAAI/MIT Press, the Information Systems Journal, Artificial Intelligence Journal, and the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics.

Mary-Anne has a passion for innovation in science, technology and engineering. She established and continues to lead the UTS Robot Soccer team and the UTS Social Robotics Project that aims to explore how Australia’s only PR2 robot, whose crowdsourced name is Gutsy, can develop social intelligence in its dealings with humans. She works with her research team, which includes Steve Wozniak, Peter Gardenfors and Henri Prade in the Magic Lab to bring science fiction to reality; the research goal is to design autonomous technologies that can learn, adapt, and work with people.

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Please arrive at least 10 minutes early as you will need to sign in by following instructions by the lobby phone at Building E (or call Wilma Lenz at 650 859 4904, or Eunice Tseng at 650 859 2799). SRI is located at 333 Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park. Visitors may park in the parking lots off Fourth Street. Detailed directions to SRI, as well as maps, are available from the Visiting AIC web page. There are two entrances to SRI International located on Ravenswood Ave. Please check the Building E entrance signage.

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