As humans adapt to a future of interacting and working with robots, researcher Brandon DeHart asks the question: “What happens if a 200-kilogram industrial robot falls on a worker in a warehouse?”

While artificial intelligence is making its way into everything from health care to financial services, DeHart cautions there is still a long road ahead before physical robots are seamlessly integrated into our society.

“A robot has to be 1000 times better than humans before we will trust it,” says DeHart, the University of Waterloo’s RoboHub manager and PhD student in the Faculty of Engineering.  DeHart is researching robotic balance and gait to ensure robots don’t pose a risk to humans and are able to adapt to, literally and figuratively, bumps in the road.

NAO robot

A NAO robot on display at the RoboHub booth.

Innovators gather at the Sedra Student Design Centre

Approximately 120 guests gathered in the Sedra Student Design Centre on Tuesday for the Beyond Impact: TrueNorth@UWaterloo event. DeHart and other students and faculty shared their research and technology with government and industry leaders who are in Waterloo Region this week for Communitech’s True North conference. Earlier in the day, participants learned about the University of Waterloo’s unique approach to entrepreneurship, commercialization and intellectual property at a panel in the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre on campus.

DeHart said the University’s RoboHub will be a state-of-the-art 1000 m3 robotics test facility in the new Engineering 7 building, which is set to open in the fall. The RoboHub will open new avenues of multidisciplinary research to explore the potential of combined robotic technologies. It will enable researchers to operate heterogeneous robot teams and simulate complex, real-world environments.

MOVO robot

A MOVO robot, which uses a Kinect One sensor to see.

The research team at RoboHub is made up of experts in mechatronics, microrobotics, autonomous robotics, multi-agent networks, magnetic levitation, nonlinear control systems, artificial intelligence, and human-robot interaction.

The Beyond Impact campus event also included displays from the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR) and several student design teams including Waterloop and the Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT).