Professor Mary-Anne Williams came to robotics through RoboCup. Her background began in computer science, from which she moved to AI, with a primary interest in knowledge representation and reasoning, having done some work in belief revision (how to update a knowledge base when you receive new or contradictory information). In 2001, she attended the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), with which RoboCup was co-located, and was
captivated by the Sony AIBO (then used as players in RoboCup soccer). She was also impressed with how much progress there'd been since the first RobotCup, a few years earlier. Returning to Australia, she wanted to see her belief revision algorithms running on a robot, thinking they might improve performance. However,
the only way to get an AIBO in 2001 was to actually start a soccer team, so that's what she did. That team placed third the following year and won the competition in 2004. Ms. Williams is a Research Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia. She is also Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory (a.k.a. The Magic Lab), which has come under the umbrella of Quantum Computation & Intelligent Systems at UTS. Her work focuses on cognitive models of decision making and behaviour in complex and dynamic environments, including applications in mobile robotics. In this interview, she talks about her work, her involvement with the International Conference in Social Robotics and the PR2 robot.
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