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House of Lords Celebrate Robotics

By Amie Owen

On Tuesday 21st May I was invited by The Lord Mair CBE to attend the House of Lords to speak about robotics alongside Prof. Fumiya Iida from the University of Cambridge and Dr Dana Damian from the University of Sheffield. Lord Mair is Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Engineering Group, comprised of members from the Lords and Commons. The group aim to encourage young people to pursue careers within engineering organising events where speakers are invited to present to secondary school children and early-career engineers about a particular topic within engineering.

The event involves short presentations, a delicious lunch and many, many questions in our case! The questions were really excellent, showing a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the topic of Robotics, as well as some concern about where Robotics and AI might take us as a society.

Places like the House of Lords can feel off-limits and far removed from our own lives. Having an open door for the day helps to bridge the gap between those who have achieved a lot throughout a lifetime and those just starting out on their journey. I believe it could really boost the aspirations and confidence of the young people attending.

I spoke about my route into engineering, pursuing my interest in robotics and computer science and what motivated me to do a PhD. I spoke about people I’d met along the way who had inspired me and my own beliefs for how we can best use robots.

Prof Iida spoke about capabilities and limitations of current robotics – they cannot currently carry out tasks such as taking a key from a pocket, something that we ourselves do without thinking – but, despite this, his belief that “robots are coming” and how we might prepare ourselves and what we might need to be concerned about.

Dr Damian spoke about biomedical robotics – the idea of robotic devices that we could swallow and that would ‘live’ with us, monitoring our health as we age. Would we want this? How might patients trust this? What are the risks?

I’m very grateful for this exciting opportunity and felt very inspired by the enthusiastic young people I spoke to.

Thank you to Amie for taking the time to share her experiences of this amazing opportunity.

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Published inEventsNewsOutreach & Dissemination

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