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23 November 2016

Robots of the Future Shaped by Arts and Nature

On 3 November 2016, in King’s College London’s Great Hall, Professor Jian S Dai, ASME Fellow and IMechE Fellow, was invited to give a Distinguished Lecture to the public titled “Robots of the Future that Are Shaped by Arts and Nature.” More than 250 attendees signed up for the lecture and the Great Hall was overwhelmed with audience including many prominent figures and people from different disciplines including those in arts, and finance.

Professor Jian S Dai
Professor Jian S Dai

In this Distinguished Lecture, which you can watch here, Prof Dai presented the concept that innovative robotics could be shaped by the arts and showed how this could be put into practice through his years of research on robot innovation and development. An intrinsic connection between the arts and robotics was demonstrated in his pioneering work in 1996 and his ground-breaking metamorphic mechanisms of foldable/erectable kinds that was awarded the 1998 ASME M&R Biennial Conference Best Paper, as one of the only four best papers of the biennial conference series in the 1990s. The paper for the first time presented Origami mechanisms leading to Origami robots in later development and delivered metamorphic mechanisms leading to reconfigurable mechanisms and robots.

Professor Dai and his team continued to develop the concept and the novel approaches that associated arts and robotics over the past twenty years, with development of Origami robots, arts robots, metamorphic robots, rehabilitation robots and the flagship developed of the Metamorphic Hand and Metamorphic Walker. In his lecture, various case studies and fantastic applications of the concept were presented in healthcare, production, homecare and food manufacture to reveal the way that inspiration and aspiration were absorbed from arts and nature and the way robot creation and innovation were implemented, illuminating the possibilities for the robots of future in the decades ahead.

Having published more than 450 papers with over 10,000 citations, Prof Dai is a world leader and founder in developing a field of research and practice in reconfigurable mechanisms, and coined and advocated the idea of reconfigurable mechanisms as a promising concept to bridge the gap between versatile but expensive robots, and efficient but non-flexible machines. He is a pioneer in many aspects of research in mechanisms and robotics, his lasting impact on mechanism innovation and applications, robot kinematics and theoretical study won him the ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Award in 2015 as an honour given by Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of the ASME for his lifelong contribution to the fundamental theory, design and applications of mechanisms and robotic systems. Professor Dai was the 27th recipient since 1974 when this prestigious award started.

A welcome speech was delivered by Mr Chris Mottershead, the Senior Vice-President of King’s College London, and the lecture was chaired by Prof Peter McBurney, Head of the Department of Informatics. The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Prof Darwin Caldwell, Director of Advanced Robotics at Italian Institute of Technology after the Distinguished Lecture. Prof Guang-Zhong Yang, Head of UK RAS and Director of the Hamlyn Centre of Imperial College, Professor Brian Davies of founder of surgical robotics, Professor Gurvinder Virk of founder of CLAWAR and many professionals and company directors in the field of robotics attended this lecture. Five of Professor Dai’s former PhD students who are now in faculties in several universities across the UK also attended. 

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Jian Dai 2020

Emeritus Professor of Mechanisms and Robotics