Robotics and automation: Transforming the world we live in

With reports and stats surfacing every week on how automation and robotics are going to transform key industries such as transportation, warehousing and hospitality, there's no doubt these technologies are re-shaping our world.

What makes robots tick?

This week our Master's candidates were immersed in the world of robots, learning about the advancements in the space and what makes them tick.

With Mohsen Pashna, our in-house robotics expert, and other innovators from the field, the group learnt about robot architecture and design, mobility, arm manipulators, drones and the different elements of the technology.

Our candidates engaged in a number of hands-on activities building different robots. In the Friday morning session, with the help of Robyn Kamira, who is a Maori innovation specialist and in the midst of implementing her own drone project, the team constructed a drone and talked about various use cases - emergency medical care being one.

Grant Carter, the local business unit manager of robotics at ABB, a global multinational working primarily in the areas of robotics and automation, came in to talk about industrial robots as well as how developments in IoT, AI and automation are driving the fourth industrial revolution.

What makes a truly innovative Kiwi company?

Along with Grant, this week we welcomed some very inspiring guest speakers into our lab. Our three additional guest speakers each founded a Kiwi company that is forging into new territories and disrupting the status quo.

Dmitry Selitskiy is the founder of Thought-Wired, a company that specialises in developing thought-controlled technology. He shared more about brain-computer interface (BCI) tech, the various applications of this equipment - such as helping those with disabilities to communicate, and the highs and lows of starting a new venture.

Brittany Teei, KidsCoin founder, and Melanie Langlotz, the founder of Geo A.R. Games, also came in to share their stories. Along with Dmitry, they proved to inspire our candidates with candid tales of their journey and the undeniable fact that they are creating something they believe in.

KidsCoin is an online platform designed to help children learn real world money skills in a practical way, and Geo A.R. Games is an augmented reality application that gets kids into parks and engaging in interactive games.

These three companies are driven by some very interesting individuals and are definitely ones to watch.

What does a Kaupapa Maori philosophy mean?

This week also saw our candidates moving onto the gathering evidence phase of their project. For the next few weeks they will be focused on researching and evaluating evidence to build out their project plan.

Underpinning this phase is the Kaupapa Maori philosophy. On Wednesday afternoon, Kiri Dell and Robyn Kamira talked us through key terms and what it means to research from a Kaupapa Maori standpoint. We discussed the importance of respecting history, addressing the community, taking a long term view, and being motivated by values rather than money.

We'll keep you up to date with what's happening at Tech Futures Lab on our social media sites and our blog. If you want to know more about the programme, get in touch with the team.


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Tech Futures Lab is an education facility of The Mind Lab, a NZQA registered Tertiary Education Organisation under the provisions of the Education Act 1989. Candidates who are studying on a programme delivered by Tech Futures Lab are enrolled with The Mind Lab.