Intuitive people are more clumsy than sensors

Sami Haddadin sees the robot as man's helper

Robots and AI move society. This was shown in the lecture given by the well-known robotics researcher Sami Haddadin in Vienna. He was invited to the November 22nd Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and spoke in front of the large audience about the future of the relationship between man and machine.

The exaggerated discourse gives the impression that humans will soon be replaced by robots. Haddadin seemed to want to answer this cardinal question to an insecure society - and gave the all-clear. His mantra: Robots will support people in physically or mentally demanding activities, but they will certainly not replace them. At the same time he indicated the responsibility of politics, research and industry.

Unmatched human capabilities

Haddadin distinguishes between disembodied AI and embodied AI and describes robotics as the prime discipline of embodied AI. This is still at the very beginning. In particular, the ability of the human hand-arm system to interact with the central nervous system is still unmatched. At best, the robot possesses the skills of a very clumsy toddler. Much of the complexity lies in the diverse interfaces to the environment and, above all, to people.

A statement that Haddadin backed up with the video of his little daughter, who needs several attempts to get a key into the door lock. In comparison, the robot fails when it approaches the lock and falls over.

Reduced to high-tech industries

The situation with robots for the household, which is faced with the hurdle of insufficient speech recognition, is even more problematic. However, this is essential for a functioning intuitive interaction.

Which is why the universal robot is more likely to be found in the workplace than in the household. At the moment this is still a purely mechanical one Positioning machine, which is reserved for high-tech industries such as the automotive sector. New fields of application require new systems for robots that are sensitive, powerful, easy to use, safe and, above all, affordable, says Haddadin.

Robots with human-like kinematics

These new systems for robots are now also available - and the technology is so simple that laypeople come into play who develop products and business ideas that experts had not thought of before.

But even the robot equipped with a highly developed sense of touch is nothing more than a learning and intelligent tool for skilled workers. It is characterized by the arm, which is equivalent to a human arm in its flexibility, sensitivity and agility - and yet has industrial precision. The highly developed sense of touch enables the robot to work alongside humans without collision - a protective fence is no longer necessary. The continuous soft robotics is guaranteed by

  • integrated, sensitive torque sensors in all joints;
  • human-like kinematics;

Human-centered technology development

At this point, Haddadin emphasizes the importance of human-centered technology development, which must extend from basic research through all stages of the development cycle. Otherwise, there is a risk that people will be overwhelmed and that the technology will not be accepted. If used correctly, however, technology can contribute to equal opportunities - and better fulfillment of basic human needs such as medical care or nutrition.

Before that can happen, however, legal and ethical problems still need to be resolved. Here Haddadin refers to the approach Privacy by design. It's not just about the status quo of technology. Rather, it is aspects of data security that flow into technology and systems from the start.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sami Haddadin is the director of the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence of the Technical University of Munich and has the Chair of Robotics and System Intelligence inside.


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About the author

Hildegard Suntinger lives as a freelance journalist in Vienna and writes about all aspects of fashion production. She follows new trends in society, design, technology and business and finds it exciting to observe interdisciplinary tendencies between the various areas. The key element is technology that changes all areas of life and work.