A Bot You Can Trust

17:44 minutes

gannon and admoni, two roboticists, interviewed at a live event in pittsburgh
Ira Flatow (left) interviews Henny Admoni (center) and Madeline Gannon (right). Credit: Renee Rosenteel

Robot assistants talk to us from our phones. Home robots have faces and facial expressions. But many of the robots that might enter our lives will have no such analogs to help us trust and understand them. What’s a roboticist to do?

[Searching for consciousness at the center of “Westworld’s” maze.]

In this segment, taped live at the Carnegie Library of Homestead Music Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ira talks to two roboticists. Madeline Gannon, a Carnegie Mellon research fellow, artist, and roboticist for NVIDIA, trains industrial robots to use body language to communicate, while Henny Admoni, psychologist and assistant professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, teaches assistive technology to anticipate the needs of its users. Both talk about the relationship between humans and robots, its future, and what it will take for that future to be bright. 

View these bots in action below!

Credit: courtesy Henny Admoni

Henny Admoni uses an assistive robot to lift a pitcher and pour water
Credit: Rachel Holladay

[Meet the librarians saving the internet.]

man in wheelchair with assistive robot
Credit: Kinova Robotics, Inc.
a researcher studying a small humanoid robot
Credit: Henny Admoni

[Tackling the biggest questions in physics.]

Credit: Luke Hayes

mimus robot in the lab
Credit: Luke Hayes

[Super strong robot “muscles” inspired by origami.]

an orange robotic arm responds to the movement of a scientist's gestures
Gannon and ABBA. Credit: Madeline Gannon
a white robotic arm unfolds and zooms up to the camera
Mimus, wake up! Credit: Luke Hayes

Segment Guests

Madeline Gannon

Madeline Gannon is a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as an artist and a roboticist at NVIDIA. She’s based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Henny Admoni

Henny Admoni is an assistant professor in the Robotics Institute and Director of the Human And Robot Partners Lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Meet the Producer

About Christie Taylor

Christie Taylor was a producer for Science Friday. Her days involved diligent research, too many phone calls for an introvert, and asking scientists if they have any audio of that narwhal heartbeat.

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