My short bio: zmahoor: I am a post-doctoratal researcher at the University of Vermont currently conducting a study on crowd-sourcing robotics. We have recently launched TwitchPlaysRobotics, a twitch channel to teach robots natural language where the users teach robots commands and rate their performance.

jackuvm: I am an undergraduate at UVM, studying Computer Science and Mathematics, working as a research assistant in the same lab as zmahoor.

You can also Ask Me Anything live on TwitchPlaysRobotics at 3 pm EST today where I will be talking on-camera.

My Proof:

Comments: 61 • Responses: 11  • Date: 

RicoAndMorty6 karma

How can you enter the robotics field? Also, how do you find interesting work in that field?

zmahoor12 karma

At the high school level, you can start a FIRST robotics competition project. At university level, you can take robotics, programming, or computer hardware classes. Outside of academia, you can follow other people's robotics projects or start your own!

PeriwinklePitbull6 karma

Are you working in a certain region to avoid for dialectic differences? (Like how across the street can be kitty corner or catty corner, etc).

zmahoor3 karma

We are not taking dialectic differences into account at this time. We are trying to keep this simple and we welcome all commands in English regardless of dialect, region, or country.

AlignedMonkey4 karma

Are you worried the inevitable trolling might corrupt your research?

zmahoor7 karma


That was my biggest fear when I began working on this project. So far we have not had any problems. Twitch has an auto moderator that filters bad language. We also tell our users that the NSF funds this study and they usually take it seriously.

AlignedMonkey2 karma

Awesome, sounds like an interesting project I'll have to check out. Just in my minds eye I'm picturing it turning into the anti semetic Twitter bot.

zmahoor4 karma

These robots are nothing like TayTweets from Microsoft :) They do not learn to speak; they merely attempt to understand the commands you give, like training your pet to come here.

Banankartong2 karma

What is the most common misconceptions about robotics?

zmahoor6 karma

People think robots are going to take over the world soon. But we robotics know that robots can not even turn a doorknob!

psmith4562 karma

What's the tech behind the software? Was it all written in house?

zmahoor3 karma

We are using a python wrapper on the top open dynamic engine called pyrosim designed in our lab, For front-end, we are using pygame. The languages used are Python and C

El_Quetzal1 karma

Do you name the robots?

zmahoor2 karma

In our current crowd-sourcing robotic project, we had multiple requests from our users to name robots. They want to be able to name a robot. We are thinking to add this feature to the next version. In the previous laboratory that I worked, all the robots had names, and I can tell it makes a big difference.

happypancake1 karma

Any opinions or thoughts on collaborative robots in the workforce?

zmahoor2 karma

A collaborative workplace where robots and humans are working together is what I can imagine for our future. I don't believe robots will replace people. Robots are good at some particular tasks and can help us to minimize errors in the workplace. That is why I am studying human-robot interaction to understand how we/robots could live/work in the same place in harmony. I hope someday people realize that robots are not our enemy.

goodnewsjimdotcom1 karma

Are you more into software or hardware?

I see in the next few years(decades?) that someone is going to do image recognition of objects into a 3d engine so the robot can know the objects around it in memory. Anywhere you go from there is general purpose AI done.

zmahoor2 karma

I am more into software (AI) side of robotics. Right now, I am not working with any hardware; everything is in the simulation. We are evolving simulated robots in a physics engine. But for my Ph.D. thesis, I worked with a humanoid robot and programmed that robot. But that robot was designed and built somewhere else, and I was using it for my experiments.

MantisX3141 karma

Does a computer engineering Bachelors lead to robotics? Also, I'd like to do research/design robotic prosthesis and other types of robotics and I've considered getting a masters in biomedical engineering after the CE degree to be able to work in both. Would this sort of degree path be good for robotics?

zmahoor2 karma

I think getting a master in biomedical engineering would help you with the direction you wish to go--designing prosthetic limbs. Robotics is a huge field; some people are focused on the hardware side while some other researchers are interested in programming/software side. For my Ph.D., I used a humanoid for my research, but we did not build it.

theflamingskull0 karma

What are your thought on sex robots?

zmahoor2 karma

My personal belief is if some day robots gain true consciousness, they should have the same moral rights and responsibilities as us. Therefore they should not be used as sex slaves. This is my own opinion.