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21 — 25 April 2021 | Leuven, Belgium
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    Is there anything robots can't do?

    Is there anything robots can't do?

    tech health AI & robotics

    "It is not because you have a Stradivarius that you can play the violin."

    - Alexandre Mottrie

    At and&, we are building an interdisciplinary space where bright minds bow their heads over 21 questions for the 21st century.

    We all remember being amazed by a little robot dog and feeling devastated when we forgot to feed our Tamagotchi. As exciting as it was back then, we’ve surely come a long way since. Robots aren’t just heavy, bulky machines anymore, only capable of performing one repetitive task. Today, more and more of these artificial companions are used to perform complex human jobs, which leaves us with the question, is there anything robots can’t do? And what does that mean for our future?

    Bram Vanderborght is Professor in Robotics at the Free University of Brussels. As a researcher, he spends a lot of time thinking about how robots can cooperate with humans and work in a way that assists them, both physically and socially. He’s crystal clear on one thing; technology needs to be developed with people in mind. 

    Antonio Bicchi is also no stranger to the intersection of robots and humans. A big part of his work revolves around the field of soft robotics. In 2009 he created the Soft Robotics for Human Cooperation and Rehabilitation Lab where researchers design the next generation of robots, ones that are soft, strong, and capable of serving humans for the better. 

    Someone who might have played around with toy robot dogs is Marco Hutter. He is currently the head of a research group at ETH Zurich that develops autonomous mobile robots designed to autonomously navigate difficult terrain. He is working on the third generation of four-legged ’robotic dogs’. Anything that has to do with mobile robots is his playground.

    We end with our very own Alexandre Mottrie, who deals with a class of robots that is easily forgotten; the life-saving kind. A urological oncologist and expert in minimal invasive surgery, he is also a pioneer in robotic surgery. He developed different important techniques and best practices that are adopted by colleagues all over the world. With over 4000 robotic procedures he is one of the most experienced robotic surgeons globally. 

    What is your outlook on the future of robotics? A technological apocalypse or a world filled with unfathomable possibilities?

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