Beyond Dr. Susan Calvin – The Amazing Women of Robotics
When Dr. Isaac Asimov published I, Robot, in 1950, he brought robots and their fascinating positronic brains into mainstream consciousness.
He also introduced the first woman in robotics, Dr. Susan Calvin.
This is how he described her: “She was a frosty girl, plain and colorless, who protected herself against a world she disliked by a mask-like expression and a hypertrophy of intellect.”
Dr. Asimov would be delighted to find himself wrong, and living in a world where the frosty girls of robotics are charming, articulate, and moving the world of machine learning and robotics in directions even he never imagined. Women in robotics are heading innovative labs in universities across the world, developing applications for every imaginable system, size, and use.
Here are some of the amazing women of robotics.
Robogal Marita Chen is the founder and CEO of 2Mar Robotics. She founded Robogals when she was an undergrad to encourage girls to investigate STEM; the program is now global in reach. She talks about being a maker in her TED Talk. Cynthia Breazeal from MIT has developed groundbreaking work in social robotics and human-robot interactions. She is founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc, an open-platform startup that brings social robots into homes for family use. Her TED Talk on the rise of personal robots is one of TED’s most popular.
Engineergirl Ayanna Howard works out of Georgia Tech combining human cognitive capabilities into the control pathways of autonomous systems–robotic limbs! In her show for Dragonfly TV, a PBS Kid’s show, she explains artificial intelligence and machine learning so easily that every eight year old girl in the world is asking for an erector set for Christmas.
Kaori Kuribayashi-Shigetomi is working on a fascinating field, designing living cells to power microrobotic structures. Her fascinating cells unfold and fold as natural systems, and she has used the art of origami to translate those natural systems into robotics.
Maarja Kruusma from the Tallinn Institute of Technology works in biorobotics, including recent work in flow dynamics. Her talk, How Fish Kiss, was given at the Barcelona Cognition, Brain, and Technology summer school.