Relax, robots aren’t going to take over the world. But they are helping humans every day in hospitals, schools, offices and museums around Australia.
Growing up, my brother and I were very imaginative, we were always creative and loved exploring. Even as a child, it didn’t make sense to me that we had the internet and powerful technologies, but robots weren’t part of helping humans in their everyday lives.
Aubot’s first robot is a telepresence robot called Teleport which allows users to teleport to where they need to go, instantly. A student sick in hospital can go to school remotely, or an art lover can visit a museum on the other side of the world. It’s a video phone on wheels remotely controlled by the caller, with motors to drive it and a height adjustable body supporting a tablet and speaker system. The tablet displays the caller’s face and has mechanisms to avoid getting stuck, and even to drive it back to a charging dock.
Maths is crucial to making our robots safe and not toppling someone over. It helps us develop manufacturing specs so the robot can withstand bumps and damage, and keeps the communications working and reliable.
I started Robogals at university, because there were only four other girls studying my engineering course with me. It’s grown into an international organisation that has delivered robotics workshops to over 70,000 girls.
It took me a long time to figure out how to build robots so they would be robust, reliable and easy to manufacture. It was a challenge to develop Teleport, and it would have been easy to give up. But we’ve come so far and we’re launching four more robots this year. I guess once you’ve hit a milestone, you realise you’re just at the beginning of an even bigger adventure.
Marita Cheng is the Founder of the International organisation Robogals, designed to encourage more women into Engineering. She is also the CEO and Founder or Aubot.