Robotics expert honoured in MIT Review’s Innovators Under 35 Europe list

Posted on: 20 December 2019

Conor McGinn, Assistant Professor in Trinity’s School of Engineering and lead developer of Ireland’s first socially assistive robot, Stevie, is among the 35 outstanding innovators to make the annual MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 Europe list.

The list recognises the young innovators and most talented entrepreneurs from different countries who are developing new technologies to help solve the problems that affect modern society.

The 35 have been recognised in the different categories of the competition: entrepreneurs, humanitarians, pioneers, visionaries and inventors. Dr McGinn was one of five selected in the humanitarians category.

Stevie the socially assistive robot, developed by Dr McGinn and his team of robotics experts from Trinity’s School of Engineering, featured on the cover of iconic magazine, TIME, and in their exclusive list of the 100 best inventions of 2019 earlier this year.

Referring to featuring in the Innovators Under 35 Europe list, Dr McGinn said:

It’s an honour to receive this acknowledgement from the MIT Technology Review. It not only enforces that the work we are doing here has the potential to deliver impact on a global scale but also provides validation that the science and engineering underlining the research is advancing the state of the art. In other words, it shows this is more than just a good news story.

Hopefully this acknowledgement will help grow our visibility and reputation internationally, and help us develop new partnerships and attain the funding necessary to achieve our goals.

On a personal note, I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight the contributions of our incredible research team in helping me gain this recognition, and to thank both Trinity and Enterprise Ireland for supporting this project.

Stevie was a huge hit in Ireland since making its showcase debut in Trinity in 2017 before being re-introduced to its Irish fans earlier this year after benefiting from the addition of some significant technological upgrades and advanced AI capabilities.

Dr McGinn and his team consulted with a wide range of experts during Stevie’s development, including nurses and caregivers and elderly residents living in assisted care facilities. While developed to perform some functional tasks, Stevie is a social robot, which brings huge benefits to those it interacts with.

This summer the Trinity team partnered with the Army Distaff Foundation, a US-based non-profit organisation that operates Knollwood Retirement Community, where Stevie interacted with residents and staff at the facility. More recently, Stevie was put through its paces at the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology in the UK, where it was trialled at Reflections Day Centre in Camborne.

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