Connected through the cloud, as part of an intelligent swarm, in homes and on the streets, robots are about to break into our daily lives. In this issue of Horizon, we talk to the scientists who are putting Europe at the forefront of robotics research.
That includes Dr Markus Waibel, who is turning low-cost robots into highly intelligent devices by connecting them to remote data centres, and Professor Maurice-Xavier François, who is developing technology to enable robots to carry out missions deep into interstellar space.
We sent a camera crew to France to meet Rob Knight, an engineer who has made a robot that can move just like a human. Professor Maarja Kruusmaa from Estonia explains how underwater robots can navigate the seabed using sonar.
Professor Bruno Siciliano, at the University of Naples Federico II, explains that robots can make Europe more competitive, creating jobs. We also speak to Professor František Štĕpánek, from the Czech Republic, where the word ‘robot’ was first used. He is making microscopic robots to deliver cancer drugs directly to a tumour.
Should we have special laws to govern robots? The question isn’t being debated in parliaments and newspaper columns yet, but robots currently under development are becoming so astute at learning to interact like humans that it’s only a matter of time.
Antibiotics which break down before bacteria can evolve resistance to them; perfumes which release the heady scent of freshly cut flowers as your body heats up; and powerful cancer drugs directed to exactly where they are needed are some of the potential applications of microscopic chemical robots under development in Europe.
Professor Bruno Siciliano specialises in control and robotics at the University of Naples Federico II and is a past president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Robotics and Automation Society. He believes that robots can make Europe more competitive, creating jobs.
Did you know there are 200 million insects for each human on the planet? This October, Horizon delves into the mysteries of this diverse set of creatures and their seemingly infinite survival skills. We talk to researchers about why it's vital to maintain the diverse range of insect species, find out how robots and ants can work together to solve problems and explore how the superpowers of bugs could be put to use for humans.
Heart disease kills almost two million people a year in the EU, so it is important to find different ways of keeping your heart healthy. This September, Horizon examines innovative ways of treating heart disease, including electric gene therapy to prevent heart attacks and a miniature heart implant. Plus, we look at how 4D imaging of mice and zebrafish can help regenerate human hearts.
Astronomers have witnessed a collision between two neutron stars for the first time, thanks to a tie-in between gravitational wave observatories and 70 telescopes around the world.
The number of undernourished people rose for the first time in over a decade in 2016 due to conflict and climate change, and more research is needed into how to increase the security of people’s food supply and manage migration, according to Cristina Amaral, Director of the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation) liaison office with the European Union and Belgium. She is due to speak about investing in food systems and rural development to change the future of migration on 16 October at the Harnessing Research and Innovation for FOOD 2030 conference in Brussels, Belgium.
Astronomers have seen gold being formed for the first time.
The structure rotates three times slower than the planetoid itself.
Food insecurity leads to increased migration, says Cristina Amaral.