Raffaello D’Andrea, “Pure Engineering – Decoupling Technical Innovation from Utility and Consumerism”

The human need to create is elemental. Whether this is an inevitable, evolutionary consequence of being the descendants of tool-making ancestors, or the cultural means by which we serve memes much bigger than ourselves, we are compelled to create. In the context of technical innovation, however, there is a growing consensus that this drive to
create has become increasingly co-opted by materialism and consumerism. Artist and roboticist Raffaello D’Andrea will use his own projects, such as the robotic self-destructing and self-healing chair, to discuss an alternative model where innovation can be detached from utility.

Raffaello D’Andrea is an artist and Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He is technical co-founder and chief technology advisor for Kiva Systems, a Boston area high-tech company that has developed a surprising material handling system utilizing hundreds of fully autonomous mobile robots.
D’Andrea is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a recipient of the Invention and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation Award, the United States Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, and two best paper awards from the American Automatic Control Council and the IEEE. He was the faculty advisor and system architect of the Cornell Robot Soccer Team, four-time world champions at the international RoboCup competition in Sweden, Australia, Italy, and Japan. D’Andrea is an artist who has exhibited at various international venues, including the Venice Biennale, Ars Electronica, and ideaCity. Two of his collaborative projects are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada.