Handshake: Robotics and the Human Touch [Recording]

Join us for an exchange on the future of robotics and human-robot interaction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visual by Emmanuel Crivelli

Event Details


Online Event


Thursday, June 11, 2020
09:30am to 10:40am in San Francisco 06:30pm to 07:40pm in Switzerland


Free. RSVP below.

Handshake: A Interactive Robotic Installation, was initiated by swissnex Boston and AATB, in close collaboration with the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, and swissnex San Francisco. This project and its global reach were made possible by the generous support of the global swissnex network, Présence Suisse, and Pro Helvetia.

The next in our series of events that accompany the Handshake installation is a virtual panel event, Robotics and the Human Touch. Featuring our artistic duo AATB, and four industry experts from Switzerland and the US, including moderator Steven Rader, Deputy Manager at the NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI), along with:

  • Roland Siegwart, Founding Co-Director from the Wyss Institute Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Andra Keay, Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics in California, USA.
  • Jamie Paik, Associate Professor at the Reconfigurable Robotics Lab at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The topic of conversation will focus on their interpretation of the robotic installation Handshake, created by AATB, and then feed into an exchange on the future of robotics and human-robot-interaction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


San Francisco
09:30am — Welcome note & Introduction of the Moderator
09:40am — Introduction of the Panelists & AATB
09:50am — Introduction of the Installation by AATB
10:00am — Installation Discussion
10:15am — Discussion: Robot-Human Interaction and the Future of Robotics
10:30am — Q&A
10:40am — Closing Remarks  

06:30pm — Welcome note & Introduction of the Moderator
06:40pm — Introduction of the Panelists & AATB
06:50pm — Introduction of the installation by AATB
07:00pm — Installation Discussion
07:15am — Discussion: Robot-Human Interaction and the Future of Robotics
07:30am — Q&A
07:40am — Closing Remarks


In 2018, Andrea Anner and Thibault Brevet started a collaborative practice together. They have been informally working alongside on a number of projects but a common will to explore specific themes emerged. The practice develops around the idea of Non-Industrial Robotics: Three years ago they started experimenting with industrial robotic systems such as robotic arms and industrial automation processes. Together they develop works exploring Human-Machine Interactions through the lens of kinetic and interactive devices. The studio is currently in Residence at Atelier Luma in Arles.

AATB have been nominated for the Swiss Design Awards 2020.
Link to their site: http://www.aatb.ch/

Andrea Anner: Born in Zurich, Switzerland, graduated from ZHDK in 2008 with a BA in Visual Communication and in 2012 from ECAL with a MA in Art Direction: Type Design. Since 2014, she collaborates with Martina Perrin as Anner Perrin, a studio for Art Direction.

Thibault Brevet: Born in Lyon, France, graduated from ECAL in 2012 with a BA in Graphic Design and in 2015 with a MA in Visual Arts. He has been developing a practice at the intersection of art, engineering and design. Since 2012, he is programming websites.
Link: http://www.aatb.ch/

Andra Keay
Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. Andra is an experienced futurist, and is also founder of Robot Launch, global robotics startup competition, cofounder of Robot Garden hackerspace, mentor at hardware accelerators, startup advisor and investor, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI. Check out Andra’s most recent Ted Talks.


Jamie Paik
Prof. Jamie Paik is director and founder of Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL) of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and a core member of Swiss National Centers of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics consortium. RRL’s research leverages expertise in multi-material fabrication and smart material actuation toward unique robotic platforms. At Harvard University’s Microrobotics Laboratory, she started developing unconventional robots that push the physical limits of material and mechanisms. Her latest research effort is in soft robotics and self-morphing Robogami (robotic origami). Robogamis transforms autonomously its planar shape to 2D or 3D by folding in predefined patterns and sequences, just like the paper art, origami. Soft material robots and robogamis are designed to be interactive with the users and their environments through both innate and active reconfigurations. Such characteristics of the RRL’s robots have direct applications in medical, automobile, space, and wearable robots. While this novel technology has been published in multiple academic journals such as in Soft Robotics Journal, IEEE Transactions in Robotics, Nature, and Science, Jamie’s co-founded start-up, Foldaway-Haptics, has pushed the boundaries of the industrial applications of these robots as seen in TED conference 2019. The latest robogami was displayed as a part of Mercedez’s 2020 concept car, Avatar, during CES 2020 where the robogamis created a reconfigurable and morphing airfoils. Here is one of her Ted Talks.

Roland Siegwart

Roland Siegwart (1959) is professor for autonomous mobile robots at ETH Zurich, founding co-director of the technology transfer center Wyss Zurich and board member of multiple high tech companies. He studied mechanical engineering at ETH Zurich, spent ten years as professor at EPFL Lausanne (1996 – 2006), held visiting positions at Stanford University and NASA Ames and was vice president of ETH Zurich (2010 -2014). He is IEEE Fellow, and recipient of the IEEE RAS Pioneer Award and IEEE RAS Inaba Technical Award. He is among the most cited scientist in robots world-wide, co-founder of more than half a dozen spin-off companies and a strong promoter of innovation and entrepreneurship in Switzerland. His interests are in the design, control and navigation of wheeled, walking and flying robots operating in complex and highly dynamical environments.

Steven Rader

Steve currently serves as the Deputy Director of NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI), which is working to infuse challenge and crowdsourcing innovation approaches at NASA and across the federal government.   CoECI focuses on the study and use of curated, crowdsourcing communities that utilize prize and challenge-based methods to deliver innovative solutions for NASA and the US government. In 2015, Steve was named as one of 20 Challenge Mentors for U.S. Government Services Administration’s (GSA) Prizes and Challenges government-wide community of practice.  Steve has worked with various projects and organizations to develop and execute over 100 different challenges.   He speaks regularly about NASA’s work in crowd-based challenges and the future of work both publicly and internally to the NASA workforce to promote the use of open innovation tools. Steve has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Rice University and has worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center for 30 years.  Prior to joining CoECI, Steve worked in mission control, flight software development for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, command and control systems development for the X-38, and led the Command, Control, Communications, & Information (C3I) architecture definition for the Constellation Program.

About the Installation

Handshake: An Interactive Robotic Installation by AATB
Live and on display May 28 – June 30, 2020

Now live, come shake virtual hands!

The physical installation consists of two robotic arms, each equipped with an over-sized hand. They are facing each other and moving together, following the directions of two people from afar. This virtual platform enables visitors to take control of the robots. The chance to control a large and complex robot with ease, no manual needed here! An interaction as simple as reaching out and shaking your own hand but with a friend across the globe.

Visitors are matched in pairs as they join the site, each remotely controlling one robotic arm in their browser in real-time via mouse and touch input. They then interact with one another aiming to shake hands, to touch.

After a certain amount of time, (depending on the amount of visitors in line) the scene is reset, and the next two visitors in the line take over control of the robots. All visitors to the website can observe this interaction between the two robots happening in real time over a live feed, as they wait on line or just view the site.

The project builds on AATB’s strong expertise in robotics systems, web development and interactive installations.

Visuals by Emmanuel Crivelli