Technology is powerful, but the human side is equally important

Robotic technology is increasingly becoming part of our society. Many processes are becoming automated, and robots have become much more than props in Hollywood productions. You can find them in healthcare, manufacturing and hospitality, among others. A lot is happening in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Many of these developments originate from Twente, where employees of the Robotics Centre on the University of Twente campus work on new solutions to improve our daily lives every day.

The Robotics Centre in Twente is where robotics research, education and innovation come together. “The Engineering Technology (ET), Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) faculties have long had the desire to cooperate even more intensively. There was active cooperation with the other faculties, UT research institutes and various parties, but it’s good to work closer together physically as well. Working together under one label is easier for contacts with external parties as well”, says Steen van Roon. He was involved in the preparations for the Robotics Centre and is responsible for, among other things, contacts with external parties as manager of business & operations within the centre. 

One location

Some things are left to do before everything can happen in the same location. Therefore, there is currently a lot of construction and rebuilding at the UT. “The labs for this unique robotics knowledge centre are still in various places”, he continues. “We develop robotics innovations at the centre for various applications such as medical care, industrial processes and everyday life. Such developments take a lot of time and money. Education, research and innovation all come together here, so we are not only focused on technology. We have an eye for the people and society so that we do not develop things that are not needed. And it ensures that the things we develop are more likely to be successfully implemented.”


Scientific research is the basis for the centre. But van Roon also sees a major role in society. “Some embrace it, but robotics is futuristic, unknown and frightening to others. It can be a threat to a job or human contact. But robotics also offers new opportunities. Especially in times of labour shortage, when robots can help with, for instance, handing out medicine or reminding the elderly of their appointments. Nurses won’t be necessary for these tasks anymore, giving them more time to provide personal attention to patients. So we need to keep a close eye on what things are needed. The needs of the manufacturing industry are very different from those in healthcare.”

Inspiration centre

The future is clear to van Roon. “It would be amazing if our centre becomes a place for inspiration, discussion and dialogue on social, ethical and organisational robotics-related issues. We are currently mainly concerned with replacing humans with robots. Is that the right thing to do? Or can we use robots differently? And how far do we let AI go? Talking to each other about new developments is an important part of our work. Showing people the possibilities and guiding them through the transition. Technology is powerful, but the human side is essential to me. As far as I am concerned, the robotics centre will, within a few years, become a place where successful and relevant robotics designs inspire people. Designs which can be seen, felt and experienced. All right here in Enschede.”

Date: 29 June 2023 |

Source of tekst: Robotics Centre |

Author: Marloes Neeskens


Universiteit Twente
Drienerlolaan 5
7522 NB Enschede
053 489 9111

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