What we talk about when we talk about robotics

20 February 2017

share this:

European Robotics Week 2016. Credits: Visual Outcasts

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is a collection of short stories by American writer Raymond Carver. In his collection, he doesn’t provide a direct definition of love but instead lets the perception of the nature of love form in the minds of the reader through narrating a series of short stories.

This idea of perception leads me to my point. In my previous post, I highlighted the widespread reproducibility issues still haunting robotics research. These issues need to be fixed if we want to talk about Robotics as a science. Like what the new journal Science Robotics aims to do. However there are still other issues to consider: what exactly is Robotics about? What does it mean when it’s said, ‘you will never be able to do that within the mechatronic paradigm? Is there a kind of ‘robotics thermodynamics’? What can be done? What can’t, for fundamental reasons, be done with a given approach/class of physical systems?

A real roboticist (even in academia) might be tempted to dismiss those question as typical intellectual speculations.

There was a recent article in New Scientist about London’s Science Museum’s Robots called, who is really pulling the strings? If you focus solely on the perception of disappointment, after reading the article, you might be led to think, as I do, that we need a paradigm change. And you may understand the objectives and concerns of some not-so-mainstream communities in AI and Robotics, for example, those gathering around the ‘Shanghai Lectures’ (2016 edition here). Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

I will come back on this again. Stay tuned!

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read:

Fabio Bonsignorio is a professor in the BioRobotics Institute at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Pisa, Italy).
Fabio Bonsignorio is a professor in the BioRobotics Institute at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Pisa, Italy).

Related posts :

Team builds first living robots that can reproduce

AI-designed Xenobots reveal entirely new form of biological self-replication—promising for regenerative medicine.
02 December 2021, by

Exploring ROS2 using wheeled Robot – #3 – Moving the robot

In this post you’ll learn how to publish to a ROS2 topic using ROS2 C++. We are moving the robot Dolly robot, simulated using Gazebo 11.
30 November 2021, by

An inventory of robotics roadmaps to better inform policy and investment

Silicon Valley Robotics in partnership with the Industrial Activities Board of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, is compiling an up to date resource list of various robotics, AIS and AI roadmaps, national or otherwise.
29 November 2021, by

Robots can be companions, caregivers, collaborators — and social influencers

People are hardwired to respond socially to technology that presents itself as even vaguely social. While this may sound like the beginnings of a Black Mirror episode, this tendency is precisely what allows us to enjoy social interactions with robots and place them in caregiver, collaborator or companion roles.
26 November 2021, by

Interview with Tao Chen, Jie Xu and Pulkit Agrawal: CoRL 2021 best paper award winners

The award-winning authors describe their work on a system for general in-hand object re-orientation.
24 November 2021, by



How Simbe Robotics is Innovating in Retail, with Brad Bogolea

Brad Bogolea discusses the innovation behind Tally, the autonomous robot from Simbe Robotics. Tally collects real-time analytics inside retail stores to improve the customer shopping experience, as well as the efficiency of managing the store.
23 November 2021, by

©2021 - ROBOTS Association


©2021 - ROBOTS Association