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The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal…
The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned successful innovator and leader, regarding the challenges of bringing technological discoveries to fruition. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
The interviewee is Gurvinder S. Virk, an experienced internationally renowned technical expert in robotics, control, engineering and computer science who currently serves as the Technical Director for Innovative Technology & Science Limited (InnotecUK); Adjunct Professor for IIT Ropar, India; Guest Professor in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; and Trustee and Treasurer, CLAWAR Association Ltd., UK (a UK-registered charity with the mission to advance robotics for the public benefit). In this interview, Prof Virk details his technical/commercialization/regulatory experience with international standing to advance robotics and control engineering globally to deliver mass market robot products.
Prof Virk received a first-class BSc in electronic and electrical engineering from the University of Manchester in 1977; a PhD in Control Theory, Imperial College, London, 1982; and a Diploma of Imperial College in 1982. He has served as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professor of Control and Robotics and related fields since 1983 in UK, New Zealand, Germany and Sweden. He has been involved in several spin-out commercial ventures with CFM Consultants, Ambient Energy Systems Ltd., Portech Ltd., Endoenergy Systems Ltd., Endoenergy Sweden AB, CLAWAR Association Ltd. and EAS Ltd. (NZ).
Throughout his 35-year career, Prof Virk (CEng, FIET, FCIBSE, CMath, FIMA, MIEEE) has been a leader and scientific contributor in the fields of intelligent and advanced robotics, control systems theory and applications, assistive robots and mobile robotics, renewable energy systems for building applications and robot safety. He has produced over 350 refereed publications, filed four patents, supervised 16 successful PhD/MPhil students, created and led international research teams, registered several spin-out companies (and a UK-registered charity) and has led many international externally funded projects (total value of approximately €20m). His notable achievements include leading the creation of the first harmonized ISO safety standard (EN ISO 13482) for personal care robots and being invited to be President of the Evaluation Committee of the ARGOS Challenge to invent autonomous ATEX-certified robots for gas and oil production sites. In addition, Prof Virk has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London for services in promoting Information Technology (IT) in schools and is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technology. His pioneering and patented research on assistive wearable exoskeletons will soon be available as affordable products for the elderly.
There has been a considerable growth of interest in climbing and walking robots since the first international conference in Brussels last year. The two‐day event at Portsmouth University attracted speakers from 20 countries, a number of whom were able to report on machines that have been built and successfully tested, and in some cases are under evaluation in industry. Supporting these from the end of academic research were papers dealing with simulation, control, locomotion, teleoperation, navigation, sensing and other aspects. Much of the work is being funded by the European Commission under the Brite‐Euram programme. The conference was preceded by a workshop day and included a small industrial exhibition.
Reports on a seminar entitled ‘‘Future trends in robotics'' organised by the UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers, outlines recent developments in subsea robotics, reviews the evolution of surgical robotics, discusses the current state of application and research relating to mobile robots and looks at the progress being made in the development of climbing robots.
The 2002 climbing and walking robots (CLAWAR) conference featured 130 papers on topics related to CLAWAR. This article reviews the conference, highlighting papers in the areas of modular design, inspection of tanks, weld inspection, sewer inspection/cleaning, window cleaning, medical robotics, hybrid locomotion and hopping robots.