On March 9, 2020 the kick-off event of the Brabant Robot Challenge was held at Tilburg University. Ton Wilthagen, professor at Tilburg University, has long been interested in the driving forces that determine the labor market and the work of people. For this reason, he is involved in robotisation and artificial intelligence, and is one of the initiators of this event. Wilthagen: “We started the Robot Challenge after we noticed that little attention is paid to robotics in our courses. This is the case for studies such as law and psychology, but also for healthcare. While students eventually end up in a workplace where they have to deal with automation. ”
The idea behind the Robot Challenge is that the acquired knowledge about robotics is linked to the learning path of students. The number of participants now fluctuates around forty people: “We are a frontrunner with this concept and do not want to make it too large for the time being so that the quality of the meetings is not jeopardized. From next year we want a broader approach so that the challenge can be included in the normal learning paths, but much remains to be arranged for this at educational institutions ” says Wilthagen.
The meetings are not limited to the technological aspect. Working on the assignments requires a multidisciplinary approach in which economic, legal and ethical issues must be solved. Program manager Annemarie Schrauwen talks about the enthusiasm of participating students: “These young people come up with the wildest ideas. From sex with robots in the future to establishing good communication because a doctor is no longer at the operating table because he operates a surgical robot remotely. A great deal is invested in robotics by companies, but the development of technology alone is not enough. The students consider how the new technique can be applied in practice. ”
The student team is judged on their results by a jury. Because the program is aimed at broadening the perspective of students, their findings are used by the companies wherever possible. “Companies mainly participate because they like to get a fresh look from students. They do not finance the challenge, this is done by the participating educational institutions”, says Schrauwen. She says the collaboration between schools is unique: “It is very special that both university and applied university students work together in multidisciplinary teams here. That has never been done before. ”
Although the first meeting is over, it is still possible to register for the Brabant Robot Challenge. See MEETINGS for the program. Incidentally - with the exception of the company visit - participants do not necessarily have to be students. Anyone who is interested can attend the sessions for free. Please do register.