One of the world’s leading experts on robotics, Professor Huosheng Hu at the University of Essex, England, is helping to answer this question and believes that our answer at the moment is “no” because not enough education and publicity have been done.
But Professor Hu is working on that – and says that maybe one day we will believe that a team of robots could play football against the human World Cup holders, and win. Professor Hu, originally from China, arrived in the United Kingdom in 1988 to take up a post at the University of Birmingham and taught at the universities of Oxford and Reading before joining Essex in 1998.
The key, Cowan said, is the cockroach’s antennae, which touch adjacent walls and alert the insect to obstacles. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, Cowan collaborated with researchers at Stanford University to build a crude antenna to show that a moving machine could use the same technique. After joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins, he assigned undergraduate Owen Y. Loh to build a more complex antenna to permit more advanced experiments with a cockroach-inspired robot.
He leads the Human Centred Robotics research group in the Department of Computer Science, working primarily on artificial intelligence (AI). Essex University has one of the largest robotics research groups in the UK.
Professor Hu is leading a research project in conjunction with the London Aquarium to develop advanced AI software for human-robot interaction. The first robot, named Miranda, made its debut at the aquarium beside the River Thames recently.
Miranda is a humanoid robot and has been designed to be fully interactive, allowing anyone to have a simple conversation with her in English. She also has a touch screen in her chest that displays maps and information as selected by visitors to the aquarium.
This is the first project of its kind in the world. Professor Hu said: “Robotic technology has now advanced to the point where it could be applied to everyday life - in schools, offices and in the home - and the aim of this project is to introduce the public to intelligent robots and promote public understanding of science and technology.”
Another of his projects is RoboCup, involving football-playing robotic dogs. This project lies in an interdisciplinary research area involving robotics, AI, optimisation, sensors and embedded computer systems.
Are we prepared for a robot invasion and ready to get the best from such space age developments? Already in action at the London Aquarium is robot guide Miranda, pictured with Professor Huosheng Hu who heads the Human Centred Robotics research group at Essex University, England, and seeks to improve human-robot interaction.
Funded by the Royal Society and the University Research Promotion Fund awards, Professor Hu and his team are building a firm research platform on which future work on multi-agent systems can be carried out toward many real-world applications.
Typical applications include hazardous material handling, planetary exploration, surveillance, construction, and so on.
RoboCup (the Robot World Cup) is an international research initiative to foster robotics and artificial intelligence using football as a common task. Its ultimate goal is to create a team of fully autonomous humanoid football robots who could play football against - and beat - the human World Cup football team by the mid 21st century.
Before Professor Hu arrived in England, he was a lecturer in the Department of Automatic Control at the Central South University, Changsha, China, from 1982-87, and where he is now a guest professor.
A chartered engineer and author of more than 180 articles, he is also a guest professor in Shanghai University, Wuhan University of Science & Engineering, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Chongqing University of Posts & Telecommunications, and Northeast Normal University in China.
University of Essex
Public Relations Office
Wivenhowe Park, Colchester
United Kingdom, CO4 3SQ
Phone: +44 1206 872807
Fax: +44 1206 874661