2/2017

“Job agency for robots”

PhD Roel Pieters took up an appointment as Assistant Professor (tenure track) in the Laboratory of Automation and Hydraulic Engineering at Tampere University of Technology in September 2017. His research interests are in human-robot interaction.

Roel Pieters

 

"My vision is robots working as assistants alongside humans,” Pieters says.

 

WHO: Roel Pieters

  • Born in Meerssen, The Netherlands, in 1982
  • Degrees:
    MSc, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, 2009
    PhD, Eindhoven University of Technology, 2013. Dissertation titled “Direct Methods for Vision-Based Robot Control: Application and Implementation”.
  • Career:
    Postdoc at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, Multi-Scale Robotics Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, working on the visual control of medical and microrobotic systems, 2013-2016
    Magnebotix AG, Research and development of magnetic manipulation systems. Ophtorobotics AG, Research and development of intravitreal injection systems, 2014-2016
    Postdoc at the Intelligent Robotics Group, School of Electrical Engineering and Automation in Aalto University, Finland, 2016-2017
    Assistant Professor (tenure track), Laboratory of Automation and Hydraulic Engineering,Tampere University of Technology, 2017 ->
  • Amateur rock climber
 

The current research of Netherlands-born Roel Pieters focuses on the collaboration between humans and robots in industrial settings.

TUT is the only university in Finland that offers a major in robotics, which is one of the reasons that drew Pieters to TUT. In addition to research, he will be teaching multiple robotics courses.

“The new major signifies TUT’s leading role in robotics research in Finland. Tampere is home to both large multinational companies and smaller start-ups that are looking to grasp the opportunities offered by robotics. This is a unique location in terms of robotics research,” says Pieters.

Robots becoming everyday reality

Robot vacuum cleaners are among the first service robots to enter our homes. The next step will be robots that complete a number of household and caregiving tasks, helping elderly people to remain independent and active for longer.

“Robots can help make our work easier and safer. Once they become ubiquitous in our workplaces, we’ll start seeing more domestic robots as well. My vision is robots working as assistants alongside humans,” Pieters says.

Robotics could also benefit smaller companies.

“SMEs may not necessarily have the means to buy expensive robots or the time to program them. I would like to see companies that rent out robots to SMEs and run a kind of ‘job agency for robots’,” Pieters says.

Collaboration is the key to research success

Roel Pieters, a self-confessed fan of Finnish culture, is looking forward to settling in Tampere for the long term.

“Another major incentive for me to join TUT was the University’s impressive reputation for industry collaboration, which I believe is the key to scaling up research results and bringing tangible benefits to society,” he says.

Pieters was positively surprised to see the active collaboration going on between the faculties at TUT and with external companies in the field of robotics. Researchers from across the University are coming together to pursue research, teach courses and write grant proposals.

Text: Anna Naukkarinen
Photo: Klik

 
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