Robotronica set to offer a glimpse into the future


Cyborg activist Neil Harbisson with Pinokio, a robotic desk lamp. Source: QUT media.
Cyborg activist Neil Harbisson with Pinokio, a robotic desk lamp. Source: QUT Media.

Thousands of international robotics experts are expected to gather at Queensland University of Technology’s Robotronica festival this weekend.

Organisers said the event was designed to increase people’s understanding of robots and their broader knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

Robotronica creative director Jonathan Parsons said this year’s festival highlights the world’s first certified cyborg activist and artist Neil Harbisson.

“You will also be able to hear keynote talks from the world’s first certified cyborg Neil Harbisson who hears rather than sees colours,” Mr Parsons said.

For the first time in Australia there will be a concert demonstration by Shimon Robot & Friends, including drummer Jason Barnes who has a robotic arm.

“This concert was recently premiered at the Kennedy Centre in Washington and the researcher, Professor Gil Weinberg, who developed Shimon and Jason Barnes’ prosthetic arm, will give a lecture this Friday afternoon at 3:30pm on Robotic musicianship and artificial creativity as a prelude to the concert on Sunday,” Mr Parsons said.

But Griffith University Institute for Integrated Intelligent professor Vladimir Estivill-Castro said the biggest challenge in robotics is a robot’s lack of intelligence capacity.

“Robots are just like computers. They are programmed in a certain way and if you want them to do anything outside that programmation, they will fail in contrast to humans who have that intelligence capacity,” Professor Estivill-Castro said.

Mr Parsons said all ages are welcome to Robotronica to get inspired and take part in some of the world’s ‘most spectacular’ robotics and interactive designs showcased through demonstrations, games, workshops and discussions.

Over 10,000 people across 30 projects by local and international scientists, robotics, designers, engineers, performers and interactive artists attended the inaugural event in 2013.

Robotronica is free and will run from 10am until 7pm on Sunday, August 23, at QUT’s Garden Point campus in Brisbane City.

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