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Florian Röhrbein


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Dr. Florian Röhrbein is a senior lecturer in the research group “Robotics and Embedded Systems” at Technische Universität München. He is member of the executive committee of the European ECHORD project and is involved in the Neurorobotics division of the Human Brain Project. He has international work experience in various projects on brain-inspired cognitive systems. Research stays include the MacKay Institute of Communication and Neuroscience (UK), the HONDA Research Institute Europe GmbH (Germany) and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York). He received his Diploma (with honors) and PhD (magna cum laude) from TU München. In 2011 he received the venia legendi for computer science from Universität Bremen.



The idea of connecting brain-inspired models of computation to robots is probably as old as the discipline of robotics itself. Today, researchers are connecting robotics with neuroscience in order to both build intelligent robots and to better understand the brain. The workshop Advances in Biologically Inspired Brain-Like Cognition and Control for Learning Robots at IROS (Hamburg) brought together experts from diverse fields in brain-based robotics, neurorobotics, artificial neural networks and machine learning to discuss the state of the art.

TEDGlobal 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. June 12-15, 2013. Photo: James Duncan Davidson
TEDGlobal 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. June 12-15, 2013. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In this 4th interview of our four-part ECHORD series, conducted last June, Sascha Griffiths from TUM talks to Raffaello D’Andrea, Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich and technical co-founder of Kiva Systems. The series explores success stories and common obstacles in industry-academia collaborations in the field of robotics, and examines the differences  between these collaborations in the US, Europe and Asia.

Neurorobotics is one of the most ambitious fields in robotics and will play a major role in the newly announced Human Brain Project. This project was selected by the European Commission as a flagship project and will receive a prospected funding of 1 billion euro for a runtime of 10 years. The goal of the Human Brain Project is to pull together the highly fragmented knowledge in the neurosciences and to reconstruct the brain, piece by piece, in supercomputer-based models and simulations. It should lay the technical foundations for a new model of brain research that is based on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), driving integration between data and knowledge from different disciplines, and catalyzing a community effort to achieve a new understanding of the brain, new treatments for brain disease and new brain-like computing technologies.

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Established experts in the field of robotics were recently interviewed by a group of scientists from the ECHORD project at Technische Universität München. Motivated by the fact that industry-academia collaborations in robotics are still limited, they wanted to know what makes such collaborations a success, what can be done to avoid common obstacles and what the differences are between collaborations in the US, Europe and Asia. In this 3rd interview of our four-part series, Sascha Griffiths from TUM talked to Minoru Asada, well-known professor at Osaka University, at the occasion of IEEE ICDL-EpiRob conference in San Diego, California.

ishiguroThe second interview of this four-part series about collaboration between academia and industry was conducted at the CITEC Summer School 2012 at the Center of Excellence “Cognitive Interaction Technology”, Bielefeld University in Germany. Sascha Griffiths, member of the ECHORD team at TUM interviewed Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is famous for his humanoids with lifelike appearance. Prof. Ishiguro is ATR fellow and director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University.

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This is the first in a four-part interview series about collaboration between academia and industry, conducted by a group of scientists from the ECHORD project at Technische Universität München. Well-known and established experts in the field of robotics were asked: How can one connect industry and academia effectively? What obstacles are there and what makes collaborations effective? 

The first expert is Rodney Brooks, who was interviewed by myself in Eskilstuna during the Robotics Innovation Challenge 2012. Brooks is professor emeritus at MIT and a successful robotics entrepreneur who just recently launched Rethink Robotics’ Baxter.