European Robotics Forum visit provided a very pleasing overview to all kinds of robotic related topics and most importantly, it was a good opportunity to experience a great variety of different robots in action. There were small and large robots, robots of many different shapes, human-like and machine-like robots, robots in different colors, friendly looking and a bit scary ones, quiet and noisy robots, even one musical robot. Many many robots for different purposes from assembly to preventing loneliness, from preparing drinks to carrying Moomin. The topics of the speeches varied from harsh environment robotics to ethical aspects, from care robots to exoskeletons.
Some personal insights/experiences from the conference:
• The robotic arms are actually very fascinating. At best, their movements can be perfectly beautiful. I got hooked on looking at the smooth movements of the two-armed robot by ABB. By using one’s imagination and combined with other elements such as appropriate music one could create stunning installations and trials for several different purposes outside of the factory setting. I got one crazy idea, which you may be able to experience later on… Stay tuned!
• It seems that even the simplest and most machine-like robotic products can be re-designed to promote different feelings and enjoyment by combining the product with some aesthetic elements. For example, the dish collecting robot that moved autonomously on the restaurant area of the conference was a very relaxing experience. Why? Because it played relaxing music at the same time as it was moving. It was really nice to relax within the close proximity of the dish robot for a while. Who would have imagined that a dish robot (basically a moving robot cart) would make you relaxed in a conference?
• UX and in general, the softer side of robotics, is more and more coming to the field. Several speeches dealt with human-related aspects and many stakeholders are interested in getting UX people in their projects. It is a very good sign.
I am still missing one robotic experience – I wanted try out an exoskeleton and become a superwoman, but it was not available at this point. Maybe next year!