What is RAS?

RAS stands for "Robotics and Autonomous Systems".

A universal definition of a RAS is still elusive.  For FARSCOPE, a RAS is a machine (or a set of machines) that richly perceives its environment, cleverly makes some decisions about its own actions, and then physically acts to do something to the world around it.

FARSCOPE believes that the key to future development in robotics is adaptability, making machines that can play more integrated roles in the real world.  In particular, we foresee three key challenges, illustrated by the following examples:
  • An assisted living robot will have to work alongside – or at least around – its owner.  It’ll need to adapt to the unexpected things we humans sometimes do.
  • A flying rescue robot deployed into a damaged building must find its way around autonomously despite unexpected obstructions, obscured lighting and other hazards.  It must adapt to the uncertainty in its environment.
  • A worker robot in a small business needs to make different components in small batches.  Taking it offline to be reprogrammed by an expert simply isn’t economic.  It’ll have to learn each new task from a human instructor and adapt its skills to each new role.

Together, these three challenges require a much higher level of intelligence than state-of-the-art robots today.  They embody technical, industrial and social issues.  This is why it’s essential for topics in robotics – advanced control; computing; soft robotics – and in autonomous systems – artificial intelligence; computer vision; human-robot interaction – to be studied together.

There are many more examples of applications too: security; agriculture; surgery; and robots that fly; walk; swim or roll.  FARSCOPE believes that only a cross-disciplinary, cross-application view will enable future innovators to maximize RAS’ potential.  They will exploit ideas from one sector in others and see potential in new untapped markets.