Daniela Ross, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL) Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), introduced the Women in STEM (WiSTEM) Club, Wednesday, October 26 during the X-block.
Ross said her interest in STEM arose from experiences from her past, growing up in Romania under a dictatorship, where there was a policy that required everyone to work with machines in factories.
“I went to work a week every month for a while in a factory that made parts for locomotives,” Ross said. “I learned how to use many machines. I learned how to think about robots.”
After Ross became a professor at MIT, he built AMOUR, which stands for “Modular Visual Autonomous Underwater Robot.” According to Ross, AMOUR was inspired by one of Ross’ childhood authors, Jules Vernes. The robot took three years to build, but was destroyed within three months of testing.
After the devastation, Ross said she was determined to rebuild Amour. Ross said that due to rapid advances in technology, the rebuilding process was much faster.
“Big failures teach us great lessons. It took three years to make AMOUR, and three months to make three copies of AMOUR,” Ross said.
Ross also spoke about her research on the relationship between programmable cells and robots. Ross said they could be applied to bots to reconfigure themselves for all tasks.
“[Through reprogrammable cells] “A robot can be in the best shape for a task,” Ross said. Suppose the robot needs a screwdriver from the top of the shelf. If the screwdriver is too high to reach, the robot will probably reshuffle its cells to make an arm that is too long to get the screwdriver back. “
With so many programmable cellular robots already in use, Ross said she is anxious about the technology’s future and how it will be shaped by a variety of robots.
“Every one of us can create robots that save and improve lives and perform a variety of tasks,” Ross said. “For me, this future with many robots brings us a lot of possibilities and the possibility to have a lot of fun.”
Ross said that STEM is a domain for everyone, and that it is an outlet for innovation and reward.
“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a place where [everyone] You can contribute,” Ross said. “You can be creative, and given the areas where hardware and programming have evolved, this is a place where you can really get empowered.”