Senior Hardware Engineer at Google
As a child, James McLurkin was constantly building with LEGO bricks, cardboard boxes, or any other materials he could access. Today, he continues this tradition using Mother Nature as a model, researching and developing algorithms and techniques for constructing and programming large swarms of autonomous robots. Read More >
The presentation starts with a lighthearted look at society's views on robots, Hollywood's portrayal of them, the current state of the art, and the future of the technology. Philosophical questions about the nature of intelligence are discussed, as they pose serious problems for the creation of artificially intelligent devices. The final conclusion? Robots are phenomenally stupid and we should be more concerned about the next asteroid strike than a robotic rebellion. In spite of this, robots are still useful, and swarms are the future of robotics. McLurkin explains the need for swarms of robots and the technology required to produce their group behaviors. Live robot demonstrations and video clips of the swarm in action punctuate these main points. The presentation concludes with an autobiographical sketch that traces the events, ideas, and toys that have influenced McLurkin's career. Starting with cardboard boxes and tape, moving through LEGO and video games, this high-energy slide show concludes with a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of the iRobot Swarm.
"He was fantastic. I haven't gotten the patron evaluation report yet, but the few cards I peeked at were outstanding down the line."
"We hit pay dirt with James. He was wonderful. We gave him some tours of the labs here and he loved it- our faculty and students couldn't get enough questions asked. His presentation was also good- I liked how he tossed in some stardom, science and math, and motivational messages. The lecture had a good message as well as interesting materials."