Behind the Bots: Meet Larry Williams, PhD

Dr. Larry Wiliams, Discovery Robotics Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Larry Williams, Discovery Robotics Chief Technology Officer

In our new blog series, Behind the Bots, meet some of the talented team members of Discovery Robotics. We will explore how these individuals are pushing the boundaries of autonomous technology and using their human intellect to create safe and sensible robotic solutions.

First up in our series is Discovery Robotics Chief Technology Officer at Discovery Robotics, Dr. Larry Williams.

Explain your role at Discovery Robotics in detail.

I am the Chief Technology Officer at Discovery Robotics, a very multi-faceted role. My primary function is to make sure we are using the best technology in our products. By best, I mean that I assess to make sure the technology is cost-effective and meets the performance needs of our customers. This technology includes the sensors, motors, and wires as well as the approaches we use in the software stack. [For those who don’t know, a software stack is a set of components that work together to support the execution of an application without the need for another software program outside of the stack. You can think of it as a bank. Banks have multiple teams – tellers, accountants, business representatives, etc. – that complete different tasks to deposit and withdraw money so that no outside members or companies are needed to help the bank function.] Practically this means that I work with each of the team members to bring together their efforts in a way that produces the best product.

What excites you about the robotics field?

In many ways, robotics is not just a single technical field but relies on so many separate technical disciplines. My background is diverse – covering many different technologies and system applications. It is exciting for me to bring together many of the past experiences to create a brand-new product.

What is one thing that robots don’t do yet, but you would love to see happen/developed?

Robots don’t yet reason well in unknown situations. AI advances have certainly helped recently. This is a challenging problem but one that will make robots much more effective overall.

How is Discovery Robotics different from other companies?

Discovery is different in so many ways. Many big companies are trying to solve small problems. Discovery is a small company working to solve big problems. Our interest is in improving the lives of others. We work as a small team in coming up with ideas and solving problems. Each contributor has an opportunity to apply his or her initiative and creativity in forming the final products.

Lastly, for fun, what is your favorite fictional robot and why?

I never got into the Jetsons or other fictional creations. However, I did find HAL from 2001’s A Space Odyssey an interesting concept in which the AI was the brain of the spacecraft and able to exercise tremendous control.

For more information on all things robotics, read some of our latest blog posts, and stay tuned for future Behind the Bots interviews. Discovery Robotics’ mission is to increase human productivity, safety, and quality of life by creating robotic solutions. Learn more about us today. For questions or more information, please contact us at info@discoveryrobotics.com.

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