This Fall, following the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Call to Action for engineers to “crowdsource and collectively brainstorm engineering options for the coronavirus illness (COVID-19),” USC Viterbi is providing “Viterbi vs. Pandemics!,” a brand new lecture sequence by USC Viterbi college to comprehensively present an engineering-centric framework for addressing and understanding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the 10-week, free program, college students acquire publicity to myriad subjects, starting from the estimation of threat and protein engineering by directed evolution to the contributions made by laptop science and electrical engineering college in automating human security applied sciences, detecting misinformation and digital contact tracing. The one- to two-hour periods happen on Thursdays at 6 p.m.
For the fourth lecture on October 1, Smith Worldwide Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Laptop Science SK Gupta spoke about how robots and automation can assist sort out key challenges confronted by manufacturing and different industries throughout the pandemic.
The next is a Q&A in regards to the lecture.
For individuals who missed it, are you able to briefly summarize your lecture for a normal viewers?
SG: My lecture primarily centered on challenges that individuals are dealing with within the manufacturing trade, on account of the worldwide pandemic. These challenges embrace social distancing necessities on the store flooring and likewise labor unavailability and discount of capability attributable to the necessity for sick employees or employees with sick members of the family to isolate.
Particular to social distancing, manufacturing has relied on hands-on coaching—folks standing shut to one another throughout coaching. How can we overcome such challenges? We all know full automation can’t work by itself however human-robot collaboration will be efficient. As an illustration, are you able to insert a robotic between two human employees in your meeting line? This may present social distancing.
Constructing on this additional, I spoke in regards to the thought of telerobotics, the place folks can work from their houses and drive the robotic remotely. This fashion, they’re nonetheless in a position to care for his or her youngsters or different members of the family. Coaching will be dealt with equally, by means of video convention or different distant instruments equivalent to telepresence robots.
We additionally explored the difficulty of disinfection. Employees in manufacturing roles can’t be assigned disinfection duties, given reductions in capability. This process must be accomplished otherwise. So how can we repurpose automation applied sciences to adapt it for this disinfection problem?
The meals trade and manufacturing trade have related challenges.. Utilizing the meals trade for example, I spoke about how social distancing necessities will be met at grocery shops and eating places. How will you keep away from an contaminated individual infecting different folks? Can you utilize robotics to attain social distancing and cut back the quantity of areas that have to be disinfected?
We additionally touched on what’s occurring within the medical enviornment, from diagnostics to affected person care, surgical procedures, and repair operations– how can robotics assist?
Why is that this analysis essential? How will it assist in the struggle in opposition to COVID?
SG: Once more, the challenges that individuals face proper now are mainly social distancing, the shortage of availability of individuals—folks can not report back to work—and disinfection. Automation can assist deal with these challenges.
How would you evaluate your analysis to related analysis or concepts, both in academia or trade?
SG: Lots of people have been engaged on automation, however what makes our work completely different is that we’ve all the time seen robots as assistants to people. We deal with human-centric automation and discover how automation can improve human productiveness and functionality. In order that’s a mindset that we introduced.
For those who suppose when it comes to what is going on on this pandemic world, the dangers are too excessive to deploy full automation. If automation fails, the implications can be disastrous. In order that’s what makes us distinctive, as a result of we now have all the time mentioned that human oversight and human path is a important and essential piece of deploying automation. Due to this fact we are able to make people secure, however on the identical time, we are able to embrace human supervision.
What are the following steps and/or milestones when it comes to your work?
SG: We’re persevering with to advance the expertise, after which we’ll proceed to do more difficult experiments to maintain pushing the boundaries of what’s attainable. That additionally consists of making the robots extra clever and rising their capacities to additional improve human capabilities by providing people higher help. .
Inform us about your collaborators.
SG: On this work, we’ve partnered with Andrea Armani on the UV disinfection finish of it.
We have now additionally gotten numerous enter from folks within the manufacturing trade. They’re offering enter from the attitude of what sort of automation is more likely to work—e.g. what sorts of interactions applied sciences have to be developed between robots and people.
Are you able to share one story out of your pandemic life? What are you doing to remain sane?
SG: Staying house is difficult. However one optimistic factor that has occurred on account of the pandemic is that I train fairly a bit now. Earlier than I used to be leaving early and coming dwelling late, however now say I’ve scheduled a one hour assembly and it ends in 45 minutes, I’ve time leftover to take a stroll or hop on my elliptical.
From a analysis perspective, what do you think about essentially the most shocking or counter intuitive side of the virus or the pandemic as a complete?
SG: Our group does numerous massive experiments. We have been anticipating some inefficiencies as we have been switching to work below social distancing guidelines. Nonetheless, we at the moment are realizing how a lot we have been benefiting from casual communication and collaborations within the lab. Once we had an issue, lots of people have been out there to debug it and clear up it. Now the individual doing the experiment must do it by themselves. In the event that they need assistance, they might want to name for a gathering on Zoom. This takes numerous time.
So all of the bodily collaboration that was tremendously helpful in our lab has been misplaced. The knowledge of crowds—when individuals are experiments informally and continually working collectively—is being misplaced proper now.
What are some phrases of knowledge relating to the pandemic which have meant rather a lot to you?
SG: It is a difficult time and it is going to be over quickly. We’ve been working with that motto. But in addition I’ve heard lots of people discuss cherishing the brand new alternatives created; I’m spending numerous time with my household and get to eat all my meals with them every day, which I couldn’t do earlier than, as a result of I wouldn’t be dwelling in dinner time on many days.
What’s the essential takeaway out of your discuss?
SG: Human centric automation is de facto beneficial when it comes to holding us all secure and enhancing our productiveness