Building a Robotics Ecosystem: Q&A with UC San Diego’s Al Pisano

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context is not being fully addressed in academia, though it’s central to the future of robotics. Addressing context will unlock next-generation robotics—systems that are able to determine the context of a situation involving humans, determine a course of action, and then accomplish that action. Contextual robotics systems integrate mobile platforms empowered with sense, machine learning, adaptive control, communications and locomotion functions. This robotics technology could include collaborating robots working toward a common goal. We are taking a broad approach to this topic, looking at it from the perspective of a diverse group of engineers, cognitive scientists, and social scientists.

X: Who conceived the contextual robotics event?

AP: This event is part of a campus-wide move to get more involved in robotics research and education. There are many people at UC San Diego working to develop a stronger robotics focus on campus. But in terms of the October 10 robotics forum, the driving force has been the organizing committee and more than a dozen UC San Diego faculty.

X: Why is the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering holding this event? What are you trying to accomplish?

AP: The robotics forum is a key part of our effort to reach out to technologists and thought leaders from a wide range of industries in the San Diego region. This is part of the planning and building process for our contextual robotics institute.

Al Pisano

Al Pisano

San Diego is ready to make big advances in contextual robotics and related technologies. Nearly all the pieces are in place. A number of people and organizations are going in this direction organically, but unless you get a world-class university aligned with industry, aligned with students, aligned with the markets, you don’t get a major surge forward. UC San Diego is joining the fray to help San Diego achieve this forward surge.

X: How does this event reflect efforts to build a robotics curriculum at UC San Diego?

AP: As this community works together more closely, a more robust robotics ecosystem will start to form in San Diego. Once that level of collaboration between all the players gets established, we will have a … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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