报告题目：Research Opportunities for "Soft Robotics"
报告人：Rolf Pfeifer（Professor of computer science at the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, University of Zurich, Switzerland）
Rolf Pfeifer received his master’s degree in physics and mathematics and his Ph.D. in computer science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. He spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie-Mellon University and at Yale University in the US. Since 1987 he has been a professor of computer science at the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, and director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Having worked as a visiting professor and research fellow at the Free University of Brussels, the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass., the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in San Diego, the Beijing Open Laboratory for Cognitive Science, and the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris, he was elected "21st Century COE Professor, Information Science and Technology" at the University of Tokyo. In 2009 he was also a visiting professor at the Suola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa, Italy, at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, and he was appointed "Fellow of the School of Engineering" at the University of Tokyo. Morover, he is the deputy director of the Swiss National Competence Center for Research in Robotics. His research interests are in the areas of embodiment, biorobotics, artificial evolution and morphogenesis, modular robotics, self-assembly and educational technology. He is the author of the books "Understanding Intelligence", MIT Press, 1999 (with C. Scheier), "How the body shapes the way we think: a new view of intelligence," 2007 (with Josh Bongard) MIT Press (popular science style; also available in Japanese and Chinese), and "Designing intelligence - why brains aren't enough" (short version - with Josh Bongard and Don Berry), e-book. Lecture series: “The ShanghAI Lectures”, a global mixed-reality lecture series on embodied intelligence, broadcast this time from the University of Zurich and EPF-Lausanne in Switzerland, Manchester Media City in the UK, Hakodate Future University in Japan, NPU Xi'an, China, and the University of Vermont in the US, in cooperation with other universities from around the globe (fall term 2011, September 2011 until December 2011).
Biological organisms have evolved to perform and survive in a world characterized by rapid changes, high uncertainty, indefinite richness, and limited availability of information. The term "Soft Robotics" designates a new generation of robots capable of functioning in the real world by capitalizing on "soft" designs at various levels: surface (skin, deformable materials), movement mechanisms (muscles, tendons), and interaction with other agents (smooth, friendly interaction). Industrial robots, in contrast, operate in highly controlled environments with no or very little uncertainty and are constructed mostly using hard materials and electrical motors. In this talk, I will discuss the concept of "soft robotics" and follow up on its far-reaching implications, in particular how the physical dynamics of an embodied agent, its morphological and material characteristics, are directly coupled to the information processing of its brain (or the brain dynamics). Because "soft robotics" is a new field, there are many exciting open issues and challenges that need to be tackled. Even though this will require a lot of innovative research efforts, concepts from "soft robotics", biological inspiration and embodied intelligence will eventually enable researchers to engineer machines for the real world that possess at least some of the desirable - "soft" - properties of biological organisms such as adaptivity, robustness, and versatility.