In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, we’ve compiled our fourth annual ‘25 Women in Robotics You Need to Know About‘ list. That’s 100 women who have been featured to date, with plenty more for the years to come! We’re showcasing women working in research, development, and commercialization of robotics. The role models are diverse, ranging from emeritus to early career stage. Even though the total number of women in robotics is still relatively small, we’re celebrating that women are leading the way in future developments within this field.
It’s super hard to find skilled people willing to work for robotics companies in Silicon Valley. Even though robotics is awesome and going to change the world. Because big companies with big paychecks are stealing all the talent. So, you seriously can’t afford to overlook anyone. Yet, judging from the gender ratio at robotics companies, most are overlooking one huge potential talent pool.
In 21 countries across the globe, hundreds of people are preparing for Cybathlon 2016, where cutting edge robotic assistive technologies will help people with disabilities to compete in a series of races. This summer the Cybathlon practice session took place at the Swiss Arena in Kloten so that the teams could test out the courses. Watch the trailer for the rehearsal games!
Ada Lovelace was the world’s first computer programmer, and heralded symbolic logic by demonstrating future applications for the universal computing machine that Charles Babbage proposed. She was exceptional in her era for her mathematical brilliance, but though she imagined future applications for a multitude of technological innovations, women at that time were not encouraged to speak about or publish their work, so Lovelace’s genius was appended as ‘notes’ onto the work of others and not seen as a major contribution in its own right.
The fact that the contributions of women such as Lovelace have not been celebrated until recently gives us cause to remedy the situation. Now in its third year, our list of ‘25 Women in Robotics You Need to Know About’ is both a shoutout and a call to look at what all these women in robotics have achieved!
It may come as a surprise, but for some, Ahmed Mohamed’s story — the high school student whose science project was mistaken for a bomb — is all too familiar. While we debate whether Ahmed would have been arrested if he were a nerdy white kid, it’s worth noting that adult scientists also face racial discrimination at borders and with police. These stories remind us that racial stereotyping is not just career limiting in an abstract sense.
In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews M. Bernardine Dias, Associate Research Professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, about TechBridgeWorld. TechBridgeWorld in an organization, founded by Dias, that develops technology to help serve developing communities. This interview focuses on a device that helps the blind learn to write.
Autonomy is the soul of independent daily living, and a variety of assistive devices already exist to help people with severe physical disabilities achieve this. But many of them are designed to be used by people who have at least some upper extremity strength, requiring users to push buttons on a hand-held remote control, for example. This makes such devices both inaccessible and unsafe for persons with reduced hand strength.
Next year’s Cybathlon will host people with physical disabilities equipped with advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies. The goal of this unique competition is to remove barriers between people with physical disabilities, researchers and the general public and to promote the development of assistive technologies that are useful for daily life. We talked to Robert Riener, the Cybathlon’s main organizer and Professor of Sensory-Motor Systems at ETH.
Melonee Wise, Erin Rapacki, Katherine Scott, Steffi Paepcke, Dale Bergman. What do these five women have in common? Aside from robotics, not much – they are all role models in robotics in quite different ways. (And that means that there are many opportunities for other women to make robotics their area.)
The personalisation of healthcare devices has been a growing trend in the maker-sphere. From gold-plated hearing aids, neon walking sticks, and sparkling blade prosthetics to 3D printed arm casts, people with disabilities are no longer waiting for health services to catch up – they are dragging their medical devices into the future on their own.
Building a new ecosystem in an emerging market is a challenge that requires not only support for technology creation, but also support for education, system integration, and the nurturing of consumers.
In episode four we talk with Hanna Wallach, of Microsoft Research. She’s also a professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst and one of the founders of Women in Machine Learning (better known as WiML). We take a listener question about scalability and the size of data sets. And Ryan takes us through topic modeling using Latent Dirichlet allocation (say that five times fast).