Big Toys – Thinking for Themselves


Speaker: Dr Ben Upcroft (University of Queensland)
Date: 6th November 2009

I will present some of the robots that I have worked on over the years which I tend think of as toys to satisfy the inner kid in me. These robots include aircraft, amphibious all terrain ground vehicles, commercial vehicles such as a Toyota Rav 4, and mining vehicles such as haul trucks and shovels. I will also describe how some of these robots work and how they think. My major focus in research is perception for robots i.e. how to build a representation of the world so that the robot can make intelligent decisions in that world. I will describe some of the techniques we use to build useful worlds using vision and laser information. I will also describe some of the decision making processes we use for these platforms. Finally, robots are dangerously close to autonomously operating in civilian areas including public transport, construction, mining, and in airspace for monitoring purposes. I will touch on why this is dangerous and why this is the major bottle neck for ubiquity of robots in the present civilian market.