Turing Lecture: Building dynamic robots

The finale in the Turing Lecture mini-series exploring the role of AI and data science in our lives post-lockdown

Learn more Watch   Add to Calendar 09/22/2020 03:00 PM 09/22/2020 04:30 PM Europe/London Turing Lecture: Building dynamic robots Location of the event
Tuesday 22 Sep 2020
Time: 15:00 - 16:30

Event type


Audience type


Event series

The Turing Lectures


In conversation with Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics. 

Event format:

Lecture - 20 minutes

In conversation with Sethu Vijayakumar (including Spot mini-demo) - 30 minutes

Audience Q&A - 30 minutes

About the event

Public opinion of robots has seen a positive turn since the global lockdown. Their use in hospitals, as social distancing assistance and personal companions have given us more reason than ever to welcome them into our lives, our homes and our public services.

In this lecture, we’ll hear from the man behind one of the biggest robotics companies in the world, Boston Dynamics, whose robotic dog, Spot, has been used to encourage social distancing in Singapore and is now getting ready for FDA approval to be able to measure patients’ vital signs in hospitals.

Making robots move dynamically in order to do versatile tasks more safely, efficiently and economically sustainably has been one of the holy grails of robotics. We will explore why this is a difficult challenge, both in terms of creating appropriate hardware as well as developing robust, reactive planning and control systems.

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, Turing Programme Director for AI (Robotics and Autonomous Systems), will explore these questions in conversation with one of the indisputable leaders in this field, Marc Raibert, Founder and Chairman of Boston Dynamics.

Boston Dynamics makes some of the world’s most advanced robots, including Spot, BigDog, Atlas, and Handle. Boston Dynamics specializes in dynamic robots that travel where other robots can’t go, handle larger payloads with smaller footprints, and move faster to get work done more quickly.

Making robots dynamic opens up a broader range of behaviour than static or trajectory-driven robots. But they are also more challenging to create because the robot hardware needs to have higher performance characteristics and the control systems need to predict future behaviour in addition to sensing ongoing behaviour.

Raibert will tell the audience about the latest robots being worked on at Boston Dynamics, including robots being deployed today, new robots being developed for commercial applications tomorrow, and R&D robots that lead to future innovations.

We'll also attempt a live demonstration of a robot being operated across continents (Edinburgh to Boston) and take a look at some of the advanced robots at Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.



Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

Delivered in collaboration with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (ECR) is a £120m joint venture between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, supported by EPSRC, Industry and the Universities.

It captures the expertise of 50 principle investigators of international standing from 12 cross-disciplinary research groups and institutes across the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Department of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University, and the Schools of Informatics and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

The Centre includes an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Robotics and Autonomous Systems which trains innovation– ready postgraduates, the Robotarium, a £8m national capital equipment facility and the £35m ORCA Hub.