Robotics Research: Issues and Insight
Speaker:Prof. Vassilios Tourassis
Full Professor
Acting Chair, Department of Robotics and Mechatronics
Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan
Date & Time:20 Mar 2013 (Wednesday) 15:00 - 16:00
Organized by:Department of Electromechanical Engineering


The vision of "lights-out" manufacturing, i.e. that automobile factories would become so highly automated that the lights could be turned off and the robots left to build cars on their own, never happened and competitive advantage still relies on lean-production, people-based techniques. Mass-produced goods continue to be made today in factories using traditional methods, although with increasing automation and flexibility, and human workers. Industrial robots are getting better at assembly, but they are expensive and need costly human experts to set them up. Even in highly automated car factories, which remain the biggest users of robotics, people still do most of the final assembly; and for small and medium-sized businesses, robots are generally too costly and too inflexible. Robotics research over the last 30 years has evolved accordingly and the growth areas today are primarily in the service industries. Modular, parallel, redundant, nano-scale and biomimetic mechanisms are developed for a variety of specialized applications. Yet after all these years, the intimate link between robotics and 3D geometry is still critical and remains the underlying theme of most current research efforts. Specific issues of robotics research today are highlighted through the use of an industrial example that captures succinctly the issues involved.


Professor Tourassis received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1981 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, U.S.A. in 1982 and 1985 respectively

Before joining Nazarbayev University, Professor Tourassis was a Research Fellow at Carnegie-Mellon’s Robotics Institute, a tenured Professor at the University of Rochester in New York, U.S.A. and most recently the Vice Rector for Development and Research at the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece.

His current research interests have evolved from robot dynamics and modular robotics to include issues in mechatronics, manufacturing and innovation. Professor Tourassis has published over 90 peer reviewed journal and international conference articles. The eight Ph.D. students he has supervised hold professional appointments in the U.S.A., the U.K., Singapore, Greece, Spain and the Netherlands.

Professor Tourassis is a Senior Member of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). Professor Tourassis is also an invited expert of the Asia-Europe Foundation’s Education Hub and a Governing Board Member of the OECD Directorate for Education program on Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE).