Biomimetic robots as neuroscientific models and therapeutic tools -Tony Prescott, Director of Sheffield Robotics



Abstract Biomimetics is the approach of abstracting princi ples from nature to assist in the understanding of living systems and the design of novel technologies. At Sheffield Robotics we are using a biomime tic approach to develop robots with brain-like control systems and we are applying this approach to both humanoid robots, such as the European iCub , and to new animal-like robots. The overall goals of the biomimetic appr oach are to create physical models for neuroscientific research and to dev elop life-like control systems for robots to be used as therapeutic tools.This talk will describe our approach to biomimetics which has evolved ove r twenty years of building mammal-like robots and that we are now applyingto create a commercial animal-like robot, MiRo, for research, educatio n and therapy.  The talk will explore why robotic models of the brain are scientifically useful and how they might be applied in robot-assisted ther apy, as well as uncover some of the ethical issues that arise in creatingrobots that mimic life.   Biography Tony Prescott developsbiomimetic robots that resemble animals, including humans. His goal is b oth to advance the understanding of biological life, and to create usefulnew technologies. Tony is full Professor of Cognitive Robotics at the Uni versity of Sheffield, UK, and the co-founder and current Director of She ffield Robotics a cross-institutional robotics research institute with ove r two hundred active researchers.  As a researcher he has published more t han 200 international conference and journal papers in fields as diverse a s robotics, AI, behavioural neuroscience and neuropsychology. With his c ollaborators he has developed the whiskered robots Scratchbot and Shrewbotand the companion robot pet MiRo. He is currently working to develop brai n-like control systems for the iCub humanoid robot that will provide the r obot with a “sense of self”. As the co-founder of the British start-up com pany Consequential Robotics he is also engaged in commercial projects to d evelop robots for applications in research, education, therapy and assis ted living. He is also a partner in the European Union Human Brain Projectand was recently funded by the Wellcome Trust to develop participatory de sign approaches for robotic technologies that enhance the lives of people with disabilities.  His research has been covered by the major news media including the BBC, CNN, Sky TV, Discovery Channel, Science Magazine an d New Scientist, he also regularly speaks on ethical and societal issues related to robotics and advanced AI technologies.     Host: Dr. JulieRobillard, Assistant Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of M edicine, UBC;