NASA, Trinity College
Assistant Professor (lecturer) in Design in Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College Dublin
My Work: I design, build and program robots that help elderly and disabled people to live independently in their own homes.
For a long time people have fantasied and prophesied of the day when automata will be able to perform tasks that are currently being done by people. My research is to design, build and develop robots that answer to this dream. I envisage a day in our lifetime where our robots will live in people’s homes, be capable helping their users with practical tasks and possess the social intelligence to provide companionship and emotional comfort.[myimage2 left]
In particular, my team and I are developing robots be used to prolong the independence of elderly people, an often forgotten demographic that commonly live alone, have high incidence of depression/loneliness and have a high-risk of suffering falls/sickness. As the proportion of elderly people in our society continues to rise, it is unlikely that these problems will reduce without the adoption of different, more ambitious approaches such as robotics.
My Typical Day: Get up at 7am. Work in College til around 7pm. Go to gym, have dinner, hang out with friends til 11pm. Maybe do a few hours work before sleep.
What I'd do with the money: Use it to help develop my robotics website and podcast
I’m currently in the process of developing a website that will showcase some of my research, share open-source teaching materials. It will also contain a blog and podcast where myself (and invited guests) talk informally about technology, education, research, science as well as recent robotics/AI related discoveries and developments. To get these things off the ground, some funding is needed to buy equipment (microphone, decent webcam, editing software) as well as costs to cover website development and hosting.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, determined, curious
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
That’s tough… So far maybe working on the GROVER robot (a NASA rover that was sent to Greenland to measure the rate at which the ice was melting).
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Nothing and everything. I answer this differently every time I’m asked. It’s my calling, that’s all I can say…
What did you want to be after you left school?
Professional rugby player
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No, never got caught. Haha. Jk I was an ok student
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Old music – definitely bob dylan. New(er) music – maybe Lana Del Rey
What's your favourite food?
Got to be my mammy’s lasagna, nothing can beat it! :D
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Probably going to the DARPA Robotics Challenge (look it up!) in LA last year
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
(1) That I can spend my time doing what makes me happy (2) That my work will serve a real purpose (3) When I die my body to be frozen and resurrected successfully in ~200 years (nobody said it needed to be realistic!)
Tell us a joke.
Why did the mexican man throw his wife off a bridge? He wanted tequila ;)