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Filipino professor wins robotics award in UK

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A Filipino professor and international postgraduate student in England bagged second place for the Queen Mary UK Best PhD in Robotics Award for inventing a novel sensor that could measure force, vibration, and temperature that could be used in telemedicine and telerobotics.

Dr. Alexander Co Abad, who completed his doctoral degree in Computer Science and Informatics at Liverpool Hope University and an assistant professor in the Electronics and Computer Engineering Department at De La Salle University, made history as the first Filipino to place in the top three of the competition.

The 43-year-old innovator was recognized for his study titled “Fine-grained Haptics: Sensing and Actuating Haptic Primary Colours (force, vibration, and temperature),” which he presented during the 2023 TAROS (Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems) Conference, the longest-running international conference on robotics and autonomous systems hosted by the United Kingdom, held on 14 September 2023.

The HaptiTemp sensor that Abad developed is a silicone-based sensor that can detect different levels of temperature; and recognize tactile images, movement of objects, and vibration with human-like capabilities by using only a low-cost silicone sponge readily available in the market.

This invention aims to be beneficial in the fields of medicine, space exploration, material texture analysis, and telerobotics.

The Queen Mary UK Best PhD in Robotics Award is sponsored by the Center for Advanced Robotics at Queen Mary University of London and is open to all candidates who have completed their robotics doctoral degrees from universities within the UK.

Abad expressed gratitude for the support of the Department of Science and Technology – Engineering Research and Development for Technology Foreign PhD scholarship, and the Mme. Maillefer Study Program of De La Salle University–Manila; as well as his supervisor, Dr. Anuradha Ranasinghe, a senior lecturer in Robotics at Liverpool Hope University whose works also focus on haptics, human-robot interaction, perception, and haptic-based miniaturized sensors. (by Kristine Erika L. Agustin, DOST-STII)

Dr. Alexander Co Abad (left) and Dr. Anuradha Ranasinghe (right)—photo from Liverpool Hope University’s official website.

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