What is there to learn from humans to build better robots? And, turning the question around, what is there to learn from robots to be used for humans? Michael Holstetters world turns around soft-robots and Artificial Intelligence. Welcome to his universe.
Robotics and artificial intelligence are the playgrounds of explorer and speaker Rafael Hostettler. The young man teaches and researches at the Technical University of Munich. He also lectures about his project “Roboy”, and the biggest topic of all: Artificial Intelligence. In his world, AI defintely has the potential to positively change our world. You might find that Rafael Hostettler ticks a little bit different from what we commonly call normal. This is probably the reason why he is a big hit in his field of research.
“When I see a bee,” he explains. “I see an extremely well-built robot. I’m fascinated by how nature manages to build such unparalleled machines.“ He soon began to dream of robots not made of steel and motors. He imagined more delicate, sophisticated ones – and made his dream come true. His former professor at University, Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeifer, and himself developed the soft robot “Roboy”, whose body is similar to the human musculoskeletal system. Roboy, like us humans, has ligaments and sinews. Rafael Holstettler explains:”Soft robots have a similar passive dynamic as we humans do: when I turn off Roboy, he collapses but is still agile. For example, I can shake him and he reacts. ”
This would be impossible for a steel industrial robot: once switched off, it would not move anymore. As much as this can be of advantage regarding the more simple and precise construction of the machine it still does not correspond to how the human body works. But this is what Rafael Hostettler aims for. “I see a human as a robot,” he says and adds: “By engaging with robots, I also learn a lot about humans. Only when I can transfer what I see in humans, I fully understand how our body works.”
One of his key questions is how to turn science fiction into “science facts”. Rafael Hostettler wants to create soft robots that can imitate human movements as perfectly as possible. He has by now started a Startup to support with AI in the medical field. His company, for example, develops new biopsy and pain management solutions to make processes easier, faster and safer.
He is convinced that Artifial Intelligence will have a profound impact on society. His question is: Do we want the dictates of work to remain mandatory or, rather, do what we want to do with our lives? He clearly advocates Artificial Intelligence as long as it can be used to make life easier and give people more freedom. However, he also reminds that humans must handle it very carefully. From his point of view, the course must now be set to sart into inspiring, new times.
Rafael Hostettler builds bridges between research and life. He shows that both go together. Anyone expecting dry lectures couldn’t be more wrong. Give it a go.