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CTV News | Domo arigato, all you robot-os: conference shows off future of automation

Monday May 20, 2019

Humans got a glimpse of the future on Monday as the Palais des Congres hosted the International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

Among those on display were Apollo, a robot designed to answer questions and bust out a dance move.

Evgeniy Oispov of Promorobots Inc. said Apollo and those like him are the future of robot-human interactions.

“He can work in airports, checking people into the flight, printing boarding passes,” he said. “He can work as a museum guide, navigating fully autonomously and providing information about exhibits.”

The conference is the largest of its kind in the world and attendees said Montreal, which is at the heart of artificial intelligence research, is a fitting home.

“People have been doing robotics research in Montreal since the 1980s,” said conference chair Gregory Dudek. “Before there was really anyone else doing it. McGill has had a robotics centre longer than 30 years. That’s huge. “There’s a huge surge of machine learning talent here as well. There are companies coming here so everything is coming together.”

Robots being demonstrated could work in a wide array of roles, from helping infants and the elderly to working on assembly lines.

Global spending on robotics and drones is projected to reach over a $100 billion in 2019. Dudek said it’s only a matter of time before the full impact on society is felt.

“I think we’re going to see huge changes in our lives within five to 10 years and those are good changes, not displacement changes,” he said. “Things that are better and cooler.”

Universite de Sherbrooke masters student Louis-Philippe Lebel said he thinks those changes will create big opportunities.

“I’m doing my masters right now and when I graduate there’s a lot of job opportunities,” he said. “It’s a perfect time to be here to see all the companies in Montreal, in Quebec, in Canada.”