Robot illustrated by Josh Ellingson

This Robot Gets You… Or Does It?

In the 1920s, U.S. President Hoover promised "a chicken in every pot". By the 2020s, there could be a robot in every home. What will it mean?


Prof. Elizabeth Croft, a mechanical engineer at the University of British Columbia, predicts that one day soon there will be a robot in every home.

Prof. Croft is working on programming robots that can interact with people. A huge part of that is being able to respond to our physical cues, because so much of human communication comes from our movements and gestures, even when we’re not consciously aware of them. This video by Rewild Films introduces you to her smart and responsive robots, who will never leave you hanging if you reach out for a hug or a high five.

Learn how robots are being designed to respond to human physical cues
Video courtesy of Rewild Films

The robotics field also raises many important ethical considerations. Robots are more than just inanimate objects: they can learn and respond, and often are programmed to have human-like behaviour. When a robot makes a mistake and someone gets hurt, the question of blame is complex and unanswered.

Notably, Prof. Croft is also the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, a fitting role for a leading female scientist in a male-dominated field. By recruiting the best minds to solve some of our toughest research challenges, we are arriving at innovative solutions to some of our most difficult problems.

Artwork by Josh Ellingson; available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 License

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Karyn Ho is a science animator and engineer who thrives at the interface between science, engineering, medicine, and art. She earned her MScBMC (biomedical communications) and PhD (chemical engineering and biomedical engineering) at the University of Toronto. Karyn is passionate about using cutting edge discoveries to create dynamic stories as a way of supporting innovation, collaboration, education, and informed decision making. By translating knowledge into narratives, her vision is to captivate people, spark their curiosity, and motivate them to share what they learned.