Distinguished Lecture:

Robots of the Future that are Shaped by Arts and Nature

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

An opening speech was given by Mr Chris Mottershead, the Senior Vice-President of King’s College London, and chaired by Prof Peter McBurney, Head of Informatics Department. 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 faculties in several universities across the UK were coming to attend the Lecture.

In this Distinguished Lecture, Prof Jian Dai presented a doctrine that innovative robotics could be shaped by the Arts that was put into practice through his years of research on robot innovation and development. An intrinsic connection between Arts and robot was raised in his pioneering work in 1996 and his ground-breaking paperon 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 was for the first time presenting Origami mechanisms leading to Origami robots in later development and was delivering metamorphic mechanisms leading to reconfigurable mechanisms and robots.

The doctrine and the novel approaches that associated arts and robots were continued to be developed by Professor Dai and his team in 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 the Lecture, various case studies and fantastic applications of the doctrine 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, casting an avenue to Robots of Future in the decades ahead.

Prof Dai started research on metamorphic mechanisms and reconfigurable mechanisms in mid-1990s and generated a new class of mechanisms coinded metamorphic mechanisms that can vary topology and mobility and that can change the structure of a mechanism to meet the various requirements and changing environment. In early 2000s, more reconfigurable mechanisms were developed and applied to industry with their reconfigurability that make a production line adaptable to changing demands and make a machine reconfigured to various requirements.

In 2009, Prof Dai set up a new IEEE prestigious international conference series by inaugurating the first International Conference on Reconfigurable Mechanisms and Robots (ReMAR 2009). The conference series cover reconfigurable mechanisms, reconfigurable robots and reconfigurable manuafacture. The conference was held every three years and the Fifth IEEE International Conference on Reconfigurable Mechamisms and Robots (ReMAR 2021) is to be held in Toronto on August 12-14, 2021 http://www.remar2021.com/

Published over 600 peer-reviewed papers with over 12000 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 2015 DED Mechanisms and Robotics Award, an honour given by the Design Engineering Division of the ASME to his lifelong contribution to the fundamental theory, design and applications of mechanisms and robotic systems. His work further won him the 2020 ASME Machine Design Award to recognise his eminent achievement and distinguished service in the field of machine design. For the former, Professor Dai is the 27th recipient since 1974 when this prestigious award started. For the latter, Professor Dai is the 58th recipient since 1958 when this world prestigious award in machine design started.