RobotRadar.org puts depth back into robot reporting

Issue date: 03 December 2012


Professor Alan Winfield, UWE Bristol

A new website, created and written by leading thinkers and experts in robotics, aims to give an in depth and balanced perspective on reporting of robotics in the popular media.

Through thoughtful articles and commentaries RobotRadar.org explores the wider impacts of robots and robotics on society. Each report is written by a robotics expert in direct response to an article published in the popular media.

Constrained by space and deadlines, popular reporting of robotics often merely scratches at the surface and fails to accurately reflect the underlying science, or fully explore the social and ethical ramifications of research developments.

While machines are already looking for life on Mars, manoeuvring pallets through warehouses and vacuuming our homes, some reports on the latest advances in robotics might lead readers to believe intelligent robots will very soon solve all of humanity's problems. “Robohype is a real problem”, said RobotRadar's co-founder, Professor Alan Winfield of UWE Bristol's Science Communication Unit. “People reading the mainstream press could be forgiven for thinking that present day robots are capable of human reasoning, have feelings or behave ethically.”

Not surprisingly, a gap exists between what the public expects robots to do and what they can actually achieve. “We wanted to create a mechanism that would allow roboticists to comment critically on news reports”, said Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University and co-founder of the website, “allowing them to add in the caveats and more subtle analyses that will lead to more informed debate about the role and place of robots in society.”

Informed, caveats and critical analysis does not mean dull, bewildering and negative. RobotRadar will feature timely, interesting and engaging writing about the real ramifications for society of the march of robotics. Its articles will explore ethical, social and technical issues, bring world-class research to life and offer insights into the exciting possibilities for robotics, now and in the future.

The contributors include: Professor Alan Winfield (UWE Bristol), Professor Henrik I Christensen (Georgia Institute of Technology), Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn (University of Hertfordshire), Professor Benjamin Kuipers (University of Michigan),Professor Illah R Nourbakhsh,(Carnegie Mellon University), Professor Maja J Mataric (University of Southern California), Matthew T Mason (Director, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University), Professor Noel Sharkey (University of Sheffield).

Visit RobotRadar.org or follow on Twitter @Robot_Radar

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