and Design of
Dr. Raffaello D’Andrea speaks at length about what
it takes to build commercially viable robotic systems,
the future of autonomous machines, the role humans
will play in this future, and how we can best prepare for it.
By Nidhi Rastogi and Adrian Scoică
Dr. Raffaello D’Andrea co-founded Kiva Systems, which manufactures mobile robots that can navigate around a warehouse handling heavy material. When it was sold off to Amazon in 2012, there were more than 30 systems world-wide, the largest of which had more than 1,000 robots in operation. He is also a professor
of dynamic systems and control at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in
Zurich, Switzerland. A frequent TED contributor, Dr. D’Andrea also held a faculty position
at Cornell University, where he established the university’s first robot soccer team. He led
Cornell to four RoboCup world championships; an annual robot soccer
competition that features fully autonomous robots with spectators and all.
A creator at heart, since his child-
hood Dr. D’Andrea has merged his
varying interests in arts, science, and
technology. He is the founder of Ver-
ity Studios, which creates dynamic,
autonomous, and interactive perfor-
mances for live entertainment. Dr.
D’Andrea is also a new media artist,
whose work has been exhibited at the
Venice Biennale and is part of the per-
manent collection of France’s FRAC
(Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain).
You’re an artist, entrepreneur, scientist,
and teacher; how do you describe
I don’t try to put labels on myself.
I just know what I like to do. I like to
create things, so that’s what motivates
me. I’ve always been interested in science and used to do experiments as a
kid. As I got older, I realized that I was
more interested in how to use that
knowledge to create things, which
naturally led me to pursue engineering. Engineering gives you great tools