Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the The University of Sheffield's online course, Building a Future with Robots. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsHi. Welcome to Sheffield Robotics. Sheffield Robotics is a leading institute for robotics in the UK and worldwide. We have more than 100 researchers working in lots of different areas of robotics and autonomous systems. I'm Tony Prescott, and I'm the director of Sheffield Robotics, and I want to take you around our institute and show you some of the robots that we're building and using, and what we have planned for them. Robotics is a really exciting and growing field. And in Sheffield, we're looking at all the different ways in which you can build and program and use robots, and how they're going to impact on our daily lives. Robots are changing the way we manufacture and build things.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsOf course, robots have been in factories for a long time. But in the future, the robots and the people inside those factories will work together much more closely. Robots are also coming outside of the factory, where they can help in tasks like forestry and agriculture. And of course, robots can come into people's lives too. So robots are going to be in our public spaces, in our streets, in our libraries and hospitals and schools. You may have already had or seen a vacuum cleaner robot, but that's just the beginning of the kinds of robots that are going to change our daily lives at home.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsYou might have robots that help with other domestic tasks, or robots that are more like pets or companions. And we're trying to think about how we can design and build robots that will help people with disability. There are going to be lots of opportunities in the future for people to work in the field of robotics. The world is going to need a lot of people that know how to design, build and program new kinds of robots. In Sheffield, we're training people to do these kinds of jobs. And we're looking at all the different areas of robotic skills that you will need to have to enter this marketplace. We're going to show you around our institute.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 secondWe're going to show you the different robots that we have and the different settings in which we're developing and testing them, indoors and outdoors. So come and have a look around at Sheffield Robotics.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 secondsOn this course, we will explore how robots are being developed to help solve human problems in the future. To do this, we will explore some of the different abilities that robots need. How will they sense the world? How will they interact with the world using feedback control? How will they make responsible decisions? And how can they work in teams with humans and other robots? For each section of the course, we will show you why designing robots that can do all of these things is challenging, and you will hear from experts at the University of Sheffield who will be demonstrating how our research is working on meeting those challenges.

Skip to 2 minutes and 55 secondsI'm Dr. Lyudmila Mihaylova, and I will be showing you what autonomous cars need in order to operate and how we process sensor data to make intelligent driving systems.

Skip to 3 minutes and 9 secondsHello, I'm Dr. Jonathan Aitken, and I'll be demonstrating some of the drones we're developing here in our aircraft hangar, and looking at a robotic arm that's been developed to work alongside workers in factories of the future.

Skip to 3 minutes and 23 secondsI'm Dr. Owen McAree, and I'll be showing you what skills are needed to fly a drone and demonstrating what drones need in order to be able to do some of our most difficult jobs.

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 secondsI'm Dr. Roderich Gross, and I will be talking about taking inspiration from animals to create swarms of robots who can work together in teams.

Skip to 3 minutes and 50 secondsI'm Dr. Mahnaz Arvaneh, and I'll be demonstrating how we can use our minds to control robotic systems and what this might mean for those with disabilities.

Skip to 4 minutes and 7 secondsI'm Dr. Sean Anderson, and I'll be discussing what the natural world can offer the field of robotics in terms of bio-inspired design.

Skip to 4 minutes and 17 secondsAnd I am Professor Sandor Veres, and I will be taking you through the course, as well as showing you some of my research into autonomous vehicles. By the end of this course, we will have an indication of how complex the challenges are for autonomous systems and the robots who may be working for us in the near future, and how developing new skills in robotics will shape all kinds of careers.

Welcome to the course

On this course, we’ll be looking at current and future developments in the field of robotics that could shape many different aspects of our daily lives. We’ll build up a picture of the principles and the fundamental challenges of robotic design, and demonstrate how research here at The University of Sheffield is working to overcome some of these challenges.

In this video, Director of Sheffield Robotics, Professor Tony Prescott welcomes you to the course and explains some of the work we do at Sheffield.

You’ll then meet the course educators, all from Sheffield Robotics and/or the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at The University of Sheffield, who will explain what is coming up over the next three weeks.

Educators and mentors

Our lead educator Professor Sandor Veres is Director of the Autonomous Systems and Robotics Research Group here at Sheffield and will be your guide through the course.

Throughout the course, our educators will be joined by course mentors, Natalie Wood and Stefan Trenkwalder who will be joining in with the activities to encourage discussion and offer additional support and guidance.

What’s coming up

Week 1: We’ll start by looking at what a robot needs to be able to sense the world. We’ll meet drones, youBots and some systems being used to develop autonomous cars.

Week 2: We’ll then look at how robotics can take inspiration from nature. We’ll meet swarm robots, a robot rat, and a robot seal.

Week 3: In our final week, we’ll discover how robots work with others. We’ll meet a robot surgeon and a robotic arm and we’ll take the knowledge we have gained on this course to build a picture of our robotic future.

Each week builds on the last, so we strongly recommend you work through each week in order.

If this is your first FutureLearn course, check out the SEE ALSO section at the bottom of this page for some tips on how to get the most out of the course.

Complete your profile

By filling in your profile details, you’ll help us to understand our learners better. This helps us enormously with our course evaluation and means that we won’t have to ask the same questions in each of our course surveys. If you haven’t already, you can complete your profile by visiting the more about you page.

What do you hope to get out of this course?

We have designed a very short survey to find out what you hope to get out of this course. If you have already completed this survey via our pre-course email, thank you; please feel free to move on.

Click to launch the survey

Have your say

Throughout the course, we hope you’ll make the most of FutureLearn’s social features: post your thoughts or questions in the comment section in each step, and don’t be afraid to ‘like’ other learners’ posts and start conversations. We’ll be keeping an eye on your comments and will be dipping in where we can to guide you in the right direction. We’ll also send you an email at the beginning and end of each week with some key information and a summary of the weekly activity.

To get warmed up, why not use the comments to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about why you’re taking this course?

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Building a Future with Robots

The University of Sheffield

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: