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interview by , and   -   December 22, 2019

Welcome to the 300th episode of the Robohub podcast! You might not know that the podcast has been going in one form or another for 14 years. Originally called “Talking Robots,” the podcast was started in 2006 by Dario Floreano and several of his PhD students at EPFL, in Switzerland, including Sabine Hauert, Peter Dürr, and Markus Waibel, who are all still involved in Robohub today.  Since then, the podcast team has become international, with most of its interviewers in the United States and Europe, and all of its members being volunteers.

To celebrate 300 episodes of our podcast, we thought we would catch up with some of our former, as well as current, volunteers from around the world to find out why and how they got involved in the podcast, how their involvement impacted on their lives and careers, and what they’re doing in their day jobs now.

interview by   -   December 9, 2019

From Robert the Robot, 1950s toy ad

In this episode, we take a closer look at the effect of novelty in human-robot interaction. Novelty is the quality of being new or unusual.

The typical view is that while something is new, or “a novelty”, it will initially make us behave differently than we would normally. But over time, as the novelty wears off, we will likely return to our regular behaviors. For example, a new robot may cause a person to behave differently initially, as its introduced into the person’s life, but after some time, the robot won’t be as exciting, novel and motivating, and the person might return to their previous behavioral patterns, interacting less with the robot.

To find out more about the concept of novelty in human-robot interactions, our interviewer Audrow caught up with Catharina Vesterager Smedegaard, a PhD-student at Aarhus University in Denmark, whose field of study is Philosophy.

Catharina sees novelty differently to how we typically see it. She thinks of it as projecting what we don’t know onto what we already know, which has implications for how human-robot interactions are designed and researched. She also speaks about her experience in philosophy more generally, and gives us advice on philosophical thinking.

interview by   -   November 26, 2019



In this episode Lilly Clark interviews Marlyse Reeves, PhD student at MIT, about her work in cognitive robotics and hybrid activity-motion planning. Reeves discusses the role of robotics in space, the challenges of multi-vehicle missions, planning under uncertainty, and her work on an underwater exploration mission.

interview by   -   November 11, 2019


In this episode, we hear from Brad Hayes, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, who directs the university’s Collaborative AI and Robotics lab. The lab’s work focuses on developing systems that can learn from and work with humans—from physical robots or machines, to software systems or decision support tools—so that together, the human and system can achieve more than each could achieve on their own.

Our interviewer Audrow caught up with Dr. Hayes to discuss why collaboration may at times be preferable to full autonomy and automation, how human naration can be used to help robots learn from demonstration, and the challenges of developing collaborative systems, including the importance of shared models and safety to allow adoption of such technologies in future.

interview by   -   October 29, 2019


In this episode Lilly Clark interviews Nicholas Roy, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, about the Quest for Intelligence initiative and his research in robust robotics. Roy discusses how cognitive science pushes artificial intelligence, further pushing the capabilities of engineering tools and services, and speaks about the importance of explainable and ethical AI. He explains the challenges of capturing context and semantics in useful models of a system, and designing unmanned aerial vehicles and robots which interact with humans.

interview by   -   October 7, 2019

In this episode, Lauren Klein speaks with Dr. Rand Voorhies, co-founder and CTO of inVia Robotics. In a world where consumers expect fast home delivery of a variety of goods, inVia’s mission is to help warehouse workers package diverse sets of products quickly using a system of autonomous mobile robots. Voorhies describes how inVia’s robots operate to pick and deliver boxes or totes of products to and from people workers in a warehouse environment eliminating the need for people to walk throughout the warehouse, and how the actions of the robots are optimized.

interview by   -   September 18, 2019



In this episode, Ron Vanderkley interviews Mark Pivac, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of FBR (formerly Fastbrick Robotics) about the world’s first end-to-end autonomous bricklaying robot, ‘Hadrian X’. Three years after his first interview, we catch up with Pivac to see how FBR has expanded its operation and chat about their latest commercial prototype, ‘Hadrian X’, as well as the future of the robotic construction industry.

interview by   -   September 2, 2019
Source: CC0

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Zhuoran Zhang, PhD student at the University of Toronto, about how robots can be used to assist in artificial insemination. Zhang discusses how precise robotic manipulators can be used to extract a single sperm and how sperm can be evaluated for fitness using computer vision. Zhang also discusses his future plans.

interview by   -   August 6, 2019


In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Brian Gerkey, CEO of Open Robotics about the Robot Operating System (ROS) and Gazebo. Both ROS and Gazebo are open source and are widely used in the robotics community. ROS is a set of software libraries and tools, and Gazebo is a 3D robotics simulator. Gerkey explains ROS and Gazebo and talks about how they are used in robotics, as well as some of the design decisions of the second version of ROS, ROS2.

interview by   -   July 22, 2019



In this episode, Lauren Klein interviews Michal Luria, a PhD candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, about research that explores the boundaries of Human-Robot Interaction. Michal draws inspiration from the Medieval Times for her project to test how historical automata can inform modern robotics. She also discusses her work with cathartic objects to support emotional release.

interview by   -   July 9, 2019

In this episode, join our interviewer Andrew Vaziri at Promat 2019, the largest expo for manufacturing and supply chain professionals in North and South America. Andrew interviews a handful of companies which provide warehouse fulfillment robots that can autonomous pick and place items. Our guests explain how advances in AI have made autonomous picking possible. They also talk about the unique technologies they use to stand out in a crowded field of competing products.

interview by   -   June 24, 2019


In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Bilge Mutlu, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, about design-thinking in human-robot interaction. Professor Mutlu discusses design-thinking at a high-level, how design relates to science, and he speaks about the main areas of his work: the design space, the evaluation space, and how features are used within a context. He also gives advice on how to apply a design-oriented mindset.

interview by   -   June 11, 2019


In this episode, Lauren Klein interviews Professor Milind Tambe of Computer Science and Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California about his research using artificial intelligence for wildlife conservation. Dr. Tambe describes his team’s use of security games to combat poaching, and his experience deploying his algorithms to inform park ranger schedules internationally.

interview by   -   May 28, 2019



In this episode, Lilly Clark interviews Aleksandr Kapitonov, “robot economics” academic society professor at Airalab, on his work for Robonomics Platform, an Ethereum network infrastructure for integrating robots and cyber-physical systems directly into the economy. Kapitonov discusses the advantages of using blockchain, use cases including a fully autonomous vending machine, and the Robonomics technology stack.

interview by   -   May 13, 2019


In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Bernt Børnich, CEO, CTO, and Co-founder of Halodi Robotics, about Eve (EVEr3), a general purpose full-size humanoid robot, capable of a wide variety of tasks.  Børnich discusses how Eve can be used in research, how Eve’s motors have been designed to be safe around humans (including why they use a low gear ratio), how they do direct force control and the benefits of this approach, and how they use machine learning to reduce cogging in their motors.  Børnich also discusses the longterm goal of Halodi Robotics and how they plan to support researchers using Eve.

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about Robohub Podcast:

Robohub Podcast is a non-profit robotics podcast where we interview experts in robotics, including researchers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and venture capitalists. Our interviewers are researchers, entrepreneurs, and engineers involved in robotics. Our interviews are technical and, often, get into the details of what we are discussing, but we make an effort to have our interviews understandable to a general audience.


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