What Happens When Mobile Robots Are Deployed in Human Environments?

By Sophie Curtis on November 28, 2014


Paul Beardsley is a Principal Research Scientist and leader of the Computer Vision Group at Disney Research Zurich, a research lab of Walt Disney Company. His research interests are in computer vision and mobile robots, including entertainment robots, and autonomous 3D scanning and inspection by mobile robots.

We caught up with Paul ahead of his appearance at RE.WORK Future Cities Summit.

What is the greatest opportunity in your industry to positively impact our future cities?

The greatest opportunity for my research area to impact next-generation cities lies in intelligent autonomous systems and mobile robots. One high-profile example would be self-drive cars which have the potential to revolutionize city transport, both in terms of ease-of-use for people moving and energy efficiency.

What is the biggest obstacle to integrating emerging technology into urban infrastructure, cities and communities?

The biggest obstacle will be financing such technology. Adding intelligent automation to cities will require large-scale public funding and public-private partnerships, on a par with investment in energy infrastructure or any of the other major urban systems like roads, waste handling or sanitation.

What will be the key skills/jobs required in the future for your sector?

Making such technology needs skills in engineering and science. Utilizing the technology needs architects and designers to find ways to incorporate the technology to produce better cities.

What emerging technology are you most excited about - personal or business or society wise that will affect our future cities?

I am most excited about the potential to address some of the challenges that have arisen in the first 250 years of the industrial revolution. Technology has brought profound benefits but also major undesirable side-effects - two examples being climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions, or pollution of the oceans with plastic detritus. While these problems are huge, intelligent systems and mobile robots offer ways to create a more energy-efficient and clean civilization. Our cities will be the natural testbeds for this.

Paul Beardsley will be speaking at RE.WORK Future Cities Summit, London, on 4-5 December. To view the full line-up and register to attend, go to: re-work.co/cities

Join the conversation on twitter with @teamrework and the hashtag #reworkCITIES

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