We're proud to learn that alumnus and mechatronics student, Sam Corbett-Davies, has begun his PhD thesis to see how robots learn about objects by watching humans use them.

Sam Corbett-Davies LargeA Fulbright Scholar as well as a recipient of the JL Templin Trust Scholarship, Sam is now ensconced at Stanford University in California's Silicon Valley.

Sam says his goal is to create a system that constantly watches YouTube videos, learning more and more about millions objects as it observes humans interacting with them.

"We acknowledge we'll never be able to ship a robot that already knows about every object it will encounter. It will have to adapt to things it hasn't seen before. A natural way for a user to teach a robot about a new object is by demonstration, so we are trying to develop a system to allow this. This work could allow a household robot to learn how to operate your dishwasher or play Lego with your kids. 

"I'm really excited to see the emphasis that UC and Christchurch have put on technology and innovation during the rebuild. It's a culture thing – I don't think the students of Silicon Valley are more brilliant than UC students, they're just more ambitious and adventurous. The quakes brought out Canterbury's innovative spirit. If we can cultivate it we'll have a world-class technology hub in our beautiful backyard," says Sam.

Sam is one of three members of UC's mechatronics class of 21 to receive a Fulbright Scholarship last year. His UC supervisor, Professor Geoff Chase, says Sam was one of the top mechatronics scholars he'd seen in the past 10 years.

Well done Sam. We'll look forward to hearing more on how your study progresses.

Back to News