Autonomous Robots

TechCrunch Disrupt in London is on December 5-6. Grab tickets here. As well as speakers and panels, we’ll be featuring some demos by some amazing tech companies. The first will be by Boston Dynamics. Yes, folks, delegates to Disrupt London will get to see one of those amazing BD robots up close and personal, almost literally in the flesh (if they had any flesh, that is). 

Marc Raibert, CTO and Founder of Boston Dynamics will be demonstrating one of the amazing robots his team has created, but you’ll have to come to find out which one… Raibert was Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a member of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory from 1986 through 1995.

Raibert’s research is devoted to the study of systems that move dynamically, including physical robots and animated creatures. Raibert’s laboratory at MIT, the Leg Lab, is well-known for its work on systems that move dynamically, including legged robots, simulated mechanisms, and animated figures.

The Leg Lab created a series of laboratory robots including one-legged hoppers, biped runners, a quadruped, and two kangaroo-like robots. Taken collectively, these robots travel along simple paths, balance themselves actively, climb a simple stairway, run fast (13.1 mph), run with several gaits, and do rudimentary gymnastic manoeuvres. 

A couple of years ago two robots (and 3 students) appeared in Rising Sun with Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. The Leg Lab also created On The Run, a computer generated cartoon in which all the characters were animated using simulation and control. Work at Boston Dynamics on automated characters and physics-based dynamic simulation are outgrowths of research done by Raibert’s group at MIT. 

Raibert received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University in 1973, and a Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. His Ph.D thesis, entitled “Motor control and learning by the state space model”, used robotics techniques to model biological behavior.

He worked on robot sensing and control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech from 1977 through 1980. He was on the faculty of Carnegie-Mellon University Computer Science Department and the Robotics Institute from 1981-1986. He is the author of Legged Robots That Balance published by MIT Press, is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Robotics Research, was guest editor of two issues of IJRR devoted to legged systems, and is a fellow of the AAAI.

Meanwhile, also coming along will be Chris Boos, Founder and CEO of Arago, a leading artificial intelligence company that helps businesses automate their IT processes through intelligent automation.