Work up to running 5 km with the Pepper Robot!

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In this guest post, Katie Winkle of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory tells us about an opportunity to get involved in her exciting research.

I’m going to be running an ambitious (and exciting!) research study over the summer period and am putting out a first call for participants. This will be my final big study as a PhD student and brings together all of my previous work to date – some of you may have taken part in my previous experiments e.g. doing wrist turns with Pepper or arm exercises with the NAO robot. I would really appreciate it if you would consider taking part and/or share with friends and family etc. who may be interested. 

We will be installing a Pepper robot (picture below from one of my previous studies) in the Wallscourt Gym here on campus and using it to guide people through the NHS designed ‘Couch to 5k’ programme (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/) designed to help people work up to running 5 km. Over the course of the programme, we will be investigating the use of supervised machine learning to have a human fitness instructor train the robot on how to be an encouraging ‘coach’.

The programme is made up of 3x ~30 minute exercise sessions per week over 9 weeks – so participants should be available and able to visit campus over the summer period (approx.3rd June up until 18thAugustbut there is time built in for participants to take a week or two off for holidays etc. We will make the robot and exercise instructor available at set times each week and set-up an online booking system for participants to choose slots from. One reason for starting to recruit now is so that we can make sure these time slots work for as many people as possible. 

An initial information sheet is attached above, but essentially we are looking for participants who are:

– over 18, fluent in English, with no health conditions that might prevent engaging in the Couch to 5K programme

– generally available and able to attend 3x ~30 minute weekly exercise sessions at the Wallscourt Gym on Frenchay Campus from early June to mid-August

– interested in signing up for a long-term exercise programme to get running!

If you are interested in taking part please drop me an email and/or go ahead and complete this poll to give an idea of what day/times you might be available to work out! https://forms.gle/PG7zjHA1DVBqUmEx9

Emerging tech researchers: Are you losing funding opportunities by not engaging in interdisciplinary research?

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The development of technology is accelerating in many fields and affecting multiple aspects of our day-to-day lives. Meanwhile, both AI and universities are black boxes, but they don’t need to be. A series of four workshops aimed at mutual learning, networking and grant writing aimed at researchers interested in emerging technologies are to be held at UWE Bristol.

Please contact Aleksandra (aleksandra.michalec@uwe.ac.uk) or Mehdi (mehdi.sobhani@uwe.ac.uk) for more information.

Celebrating Da Vinci and his pioneering inventions

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Dr Appolinaire Etoundi, Senior Lecturer in Mechatronics from Bristol Robotics Laboratory, will be exhibiting bioinspired devices from Chisel Works Robotics and Rose Industries at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on 4th May, 10am—4pm. This forms part of the exhibition celebrating Leonardo Da Vinci and his pioneering inventions.

Two of Appolinaire’s students, who are CEOs of the registered companies, are also attending, to promote the research they are undertaking at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

Sara Parker, award-winning Radio producer and reporter came to UWE on Thursday 21st March to interview Appolinaire for a BBC Radio 4 series about the remarkable multi-disciplinary vision of Leonardo with each episode focusing on different disciplines through interviews with contemporary experts in fields such as flight, engineering, anatomy – and of course robotics.

The programme will be aired at 1:45 pm on 2nd May.

Sarah Guppy show and women in STEM panel discussion recorded for schools

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Back in November, Show of Strength‘s production about Sarah Guppy – engineer, inventor, campaigner, designer, reformer, writer, environmentalist and business woman – opened to great reviews.

These included comments such as:

“You won’t look at Isambard Kingdom Brunel or the Clifton Suspension Bridge in quite the same way ever again after seeing this piece.”

and:

“An inspiring and witty homage to someone who deserves a far more central place in Bristol’s – and Britain’s – commercial and industrial history.”

and crucially:

“Please find a way of getting this into every school in Bristol.”

Which is what Show of Strength, in collaboration with UWE Bristol, Future Quest, Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain, did yesterday.

Girls from Bristol Brunel Academy and Bristol Metropolitan Academy, coordinated by Future Quest’s Gemma Adams, attended an exclusive showing of Sarah Guppy: The Bridge, The Bed, The Truth in UWE’s filming studio at the university’s Bower Ashton campus. The performance was filmed, thanks to UWE’s Abigail Davies, and followed by a panel discussion on women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) which was also recorded so that both elements of yesterday’s production can be shown in schools.

The panel discussion was chaired by UWE’s Dr Madge Dresser, an expert in social and cultural British history, who recently put Sarah Guppy forward for inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. On the panel were civil engineeer Trish Johnson (the first female Bridgemaster of Clifton Suspension Bridge), mechanical engineer Nicola Grahamslaw (Conservation Engineer for the SS Great Britain), mechanical engineer Rachel Gollin (who has extensive experience of engineering various sectors across the world), Dr Laura Fogg Rogers (Senior Research Fellow at UWE; Women Like Me), Dr Laura Hobbs (Research Fellow at UWE; Women Like Me) and Miriam Cristofoletti (Robotics student at UWE’s Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

“It’s still not great for women in STEM but at least we’re allowed to be engineers and scientists now!”

Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, UWE Bristol

Discussion ranged from why girls don’t choose STEM subjects to the best thing about an engineer and back again, via conversation about what engineers can expect to earn, how to get into engineering and more.

Feedback was positive – Future Quest described hearing from a panel of women in STEM and their thoughts and advice about their careers as

“both inspiring and thought provoking”

And it is hoped that the film will inspire many more school students in future.

Header image shows left to right: Trish Johnson (Clifton Suspension Bridge), Nicola Grahamslaw (SS Great Britain), Rachel Gollin, Kim Hicks as Sarah Guppy, Dr Laura Fogg Rogers (UWE Bristol), Dr Laura Hobbs (UWE Bristol), Miriam Cristofoletti (UWE Bristol), Sheila Hannon (Producer, Show of Strength), Dr Madge Dresser (UWE Bristol) and Gemma Adams (UWE Bristol/Future Quest).

Universities Minister tours enterprise zone and robotics lab on visit to UWE Bristol

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On 22nd March , Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, toured Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) and the University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) as part of a visit to UWE Bristol.

He received a guided tour of the UEZ  and a tour of the Assisted Robotics Laboratory, Nuclear Decommissioning Suite and Driverless Car Workshop and Simulator.

Read more on the UWE Bristol news page.

Future Impact webinar – ‘Should we fear the robots?’

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12:00 – 13:00 Tuesday 2 April 2019

Online Webinar

Join Dr Jo Michell, Associate Professor in Economics, Professor Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics and Professor Sanja Dogramadzi, Professor in Medical Robotics, as they discuss the rise and rise of robots in the workforce. How will this impact on our economy? What ethical questions are raised by the robot revolution and how far away are we from a post-work society?

The Bristol Business Engagement Centre at the Bristol Business School aims to address these questions, amongst others, and leave you with a better understanding of the impact artificial intelligence could have on our society and the business of being human.

For more information see the UWE Bristol event listing.

How’s my pig? Using facial recognition technology to improve animal wellbeing

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The work of Professor Melvyn Smith and Professor Lyndon Smith of the Centre for Machine Vision, Bristol Robotics Laboratory has been featured in the news this week.

They are using facial recognition technology to assess the emotional state of pigs, with hopes that the project, based at the Rural College (SRUC) Pig Research Centre in Scotland, will lead to improvements in animal wellbeing.

Pigs communicate with each other using facial expressions, so researchers are now capturing 3D and 2D facial images of the breeding sow population to be analysed at UWE’s Centre for Machine Vision, where techniques for automatic identification of a range of emotions are under development.

“Machine vision technology offers the potential to realise a low-cost, non-intrusive and practical means to biometrically identify individual animals on the farm.

“Our work has already demonstrated a 97% accuracy at facial recognition in pigs. Our next step will be, for the first time, to explore the potential for using machine vision to automatically recognise facial expressions that are linked with core emotion states, such as happiness or distress, in the identified pigs.”

Professor Melvyn Smith, UWE Bristol

Lyndon has been filmed by the BBC this week, giving a simulated demo of pig face recognition using deep learning, while the story has been featured online by the BBC, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Metro, the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner, among others and covered on Radio 4’s Farming Today (starting at 9:47).

IWD2019 – FARSCOPE blog on being a woman in STEM

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Laura Gemmell, a student on the joint UWE Bristol and University of Bristol doctoral programme FARSCOPE, has written a blog post all about being a woman in STEM, in celebration of International Women’s Day.

“Now we can all agree we need women, how do we get more women into industries where they are under-represented, like robotics?”

Read the post, “Superwomen – Putting the human in superhuman”, here!

Join UWE Bristol as a Senior Lecturer in Machine Vision

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UWE Bristol are advertising an exciting new post for a Senior Lecturer in Machine Vision, with the first three years to be split 50:50 between research and teaching.

Working in the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics and linking into the Centre for Machine Vision (CMV) within the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, this post will ‘twin-track’ research in machine vision and teaching roles. You will be expected to devote your time, energy and enthusiasm equally between research and teaching. 

This is a permanent academic appointment as Senior Lecturer. For more information and to apply, please see the job listing.

Open Bionics named sixth most innovative company in Europe

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Open Bionics, a start-up that developed in Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), has been named in a prestigious annual list of the world’s most innovative companies for 2019.

The list, published by American business magazine Fast Company, honours the companies making the most profound impact on both industry and culture. Half of the businesses on this year’s list of 50 innovative organisations are appearing for the first time. Open Bionics has been ranked sixth in the list’s Europe category.

Read more in the UWE Bristol news article.