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Will We Witness The Era Of Robots?
Updated 2017-03-03
Ricky Ye during the Masterclass ‘Sensing the Physical World’ at The One Academy, touching the topics of physical computing and maker culture.

Within the last seven years since 2010, we have seen robots gradually being directly more involved in our daily lives. One common example is the domestic robot vacuum cleaner that is able to operate autonomously. However, robots such as this are very limited in terms of specific applications. It might take robots with artificial intelligence (AI) such as R2D2 from Star Wars probably 20 more years to come into our lives.

As for the prospect of intelligent robots living side by side with humans, it is up to experts such as Ricky Ye to improve the robotics and AI industry to make it a possibility. Ricky is a robotics specialist and CEO of DFRobot, a robotics and open source hardware provider dedicated to creating innovative, user-friendly gadgets and toys that foster a strong community of learning.

Ricky was featured as one of the international speakers at POLYCON, an international digital media arts festival organised by The One Academy at Bandar Sunway and Kuala Lumpur. During his Masterclass ‘Sensing the Physical World’, he provided introduction to sensing technology and taught students how to make interactive objects, an integral part of the maker community which is a technology-based do-it-yourself culture.

This culture has typical interests in electronics, robotics, 3D printing and other topics, and is very prevalent within the multimedia field. Therefore, the spirit of independent making is highly encouraged in The One Academy’s Multimedia Design and Interactive Media Design courses. The interactive and production aspects of robotics is especially advantageous to build a strong multimedia foundation within students.

During the POLYCON Symposium, Ricky talked about ‘The Future of Maker Movement’ and opined that it was truly an interesting festival that had brought together specialists from different backgrounds such as interactive technologies, arts, design and architecture. The essence of the event is similar to his philosophy of maker movement that involves innovation, sharing and learning that benefits all parties.

In addition, the maker movement also encourages the materialisation of ideas instead of just talk. Back when he was a young fan of Star Wars and its appealing world of lightsabers, robots and spaceships, Ricky thought that the future might lead that way. His father also gifted him electronic DIY kits for teenagers such as doorbells and alarm systems, at which he started creating mini electronic projects and showed them to his friends and teachers.

Ricky is still dissatisfied with the current state of AI and robotics. According to him, the best artificial intelligence is able to collect data, analyse them and self-learn. Undoubtedly, they are quickly developing, but the current results are still far from ideal. For now, the robotics technology can only mass-assist humans in the automotive industry, for instance, where they are used for assembly, welding and pick-up applications.

Nevertheless, due to the limited work that has been done, the robotics field is constantly prodding unknown territory. It is up to the younger generation of experts to speed up the progress within this field through multimedia knowledge and building a strong maker community. Ricky advised The One Academy students to find the passion that will continuously drive them to acquire sufficient knowledge despite the challenges, similar to how Ricky became great with robotics after studying many disciplines including mechanics, electronics, programming, biology and AI.

Since young, Ricky loved to dismantle and examine all his home electronics such as torchlights, sound recorders and batteries except his house refrigerator.

Ricky at the POLYCON Symposium ‘The Future of Maker Movement’.