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Keynote Speakers



Clarence W. de Silva

University Of British Columbia, Canada



Clarence W. de Silva is a Full Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada, since 1988. He has served as Assistant and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (1978-87), Pittsburgh, USA. He graduated from the University of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) with a B.Sc. Engineering degree with First Class Honors and obtaining the Dr. C. H. Hewavitarana Prize. After working in industry for several years, he obtained an MASc degree from University of Toronto, PhD degrees from MIT and University of Cambridge, and in 2020, the ScD degree, the so-called “Higher Doctorate,” from University of Cambridge. He is a Fellow of: IEEE, ASME, Canadian Academy of Engineering, and Royal Society of Canada. Also, he has been a Senior Canada Research Chair Professor in Mechatronics and Industrial Automation, NSERC-BC Packers Chair Professor in Industrial Automation, Mobil Endowed Chair Professor, Lilly Fellow (USA), Senior Fulbright Fellow (UK), Killam Fellow (UBC), Erskine Fellow (New Zealand), Professorial Fellow (Australia), Faculty Fellow (UBC), Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK, and a Peter Wall Scholar (UBC).  He has authored 26 books and over 600 technical papers, approximately half of which are in journals. Google Scholar ProfileIndustrial Automation Laboratory.



New Trends in Robotics and Applications for the Developing World


The concept of “Robots” has been of interest to humans from historical times, initially with the desire to create “artificial slaves.” Since the technology was not developing to keep up with the “dreams,” initially Robotics was primarily of entertainment value, relegated to plays, movies, stories, and so on. The practical applications started in the late 1950s and the 1960s with the development of programmable devices for factories and assembly lines, as flexible automation. However, since the expectations were not adequately realized, the general enthusiasm and funding for Robotics subsided to some extent. With subsequent research, developments, and curricular enhancement in Engineering and Computer Science and with the resurgence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly machine learning, Robotics has found numerous practical applications today, in industry, medicine, household, the service sector, and the general society. Important developments and practical strides are being made, particularly in Soft Robotics, Mobile Robotics (Aerial—drones, Under Water, Ground-based—autonomous vehicles in particular), Swarm Robotics, Homecare, Surgery, and Assistive Devices, and Active Prosthesis.

 This talk will start with a brief history of Robotics while indicating some associated myths and unfair expectations. Emphasis will be given to the importance of “Intelligence” in the autonomous operation of robotic systems. Next, it will outline key developments in the area. In particular, some important practical applications of Intelligent Robotics, as developed by groups worldwide including the Industrial Automation Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, headed by the author, will be indicated. Some misconceptions and shortcomings concerning Intelligent Robotics will be pointed out. The main shortcomings concern the mechanical capabilities and the nature of intelligence. The talk will conclude by mentioning future trends and key opportunities available in Intelligent Robotics, particularly for developing counties.



Saman K. Halgamuge

University of Melbourne, Australia


Prof Saman K. Halgamuge, FIEEE, School of Electrical, Mechanical and Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne, Australia.Fellow of IEEE, IET, and AAIA, received the B.Sc. Engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunication from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, and the Dipl.-Ing and Ph.D. degrees in data engineering from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the School of Electrical Mechanical and Infrastructure Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Australia. He is also an honorary professor at the Australian National University. He is listed as a top 2% most cited researcher for AI and Image Processing in the Stanford database. He was a distinguished Lecturer at IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (2018-21). His research interests are in AI, and machine learning including deep learning, optimization, big data analytics, and their applications in biomedicine and engineering.

Google Scholar Profile.

Can 21st Century Al revolutionise robots?


Would the 21st century robots need to be equipped with much better AI given that we may have serious threats like dangerous epidemics, wild uncontrollable fires, floods etc to protect us from? Popular models of AI, in particular machine learning based models have three significant deficiencies preventing robotic research from making more effective contributions: they are mostly manually designed using the experience of AI-experts; they lack human interpretability, i.e., users do not understand the AI architectures either semantically/linguistically or mathematically/scientifically; and they are unable to dynamically change when new data are acquired from the environment they operate. Addressing these deficiencies would provide answers to some of the valid questions about traceability, accountability and the ability to integrate existing knowledge (scientific or linguistically articulated human experience) into the AI model which in turn would help in robotics. To overcome some of these deficiencies, Fair, Accessible, Interpretable and Reproducible (FAIR) AI – a new generation of AI is proposed This keynote addresses these deficiencies and FAIR AI in the context of several major global problems and the contribution expected from robotics.



Max Q.-H. Meng

The Chinese University of Hong Kong



Professor Max Q.-H. Meng is currently a professor and Chairman of the Department of Electronic Engineering at CUHK. Max received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Victoria, Canada, in 1992, advised by Professor Wu-Sheng Lu, and his Master’s degree from Beijing Institute of Technology in 1988. Before he joined CUHK in 2001, he was with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Alberta in Canada, serving as the Director of the ART (Advanced Robotics and Teleoperation) Lab and holding the positions of Assistant Professor (1994), Associate Professor (1998), and Professor (2000), respectively. He was an Overseas Outstanding Scholar Chair Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences from 2001 to 2005 and the Honorary Dean of the School of Control Science and Engineering at Shandong University from 2006 to 2010. He is an affiliated member of the State Key Laboratory of Robotics and Systems at Harbin Institute of Technology. Max’s research interests include robotics, medical robotics, active and diagnostic medical devices, perception and sensing, robotic intelligence, human-robot interaction, bio-sensors, and sensor networks, and adaptive and intelligent systems. He has published more than 600 journal and conference papers and book chapters, filed 36 patents, and led more than 60 funded research projects to completion as Principal Investigator.

Google Scholar ProfileHomepage.



Dr. Rafiq Ahmad

University of Alberta, Canada



Dr. Rafiq Ahmad is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta. He is also a Faculty Associate at the Nasseri School of Building Sciences and Engineering at the University of Alberta. He is the founder and director of the “Smart & Sustainable Manufacturing Systems Laboratory (SMART Lab)”, which focuses on systems design and engineering. Dr. Ahmad is also the founder and director of “Aquaponics 4.0 Learning Factory (AllFactory),” a unique learning factory researching system design and development for plants and fish production in an indoor, vertical, symbiotic ecosystem soil-less environment. His research interest includes smart engineering systems design, technologies development, digitization, lean manufacturing, hybrid manufacturing, additive manufacturing, robotics, and green technologies (3Rs: recycling, remanufacturing, and repair).


Dr. Ahmad is a Ph.D. in advanced manufacturing from Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France, and Master’s in design and manufacturing from ENSAM-Paris, France. He holds a BSc. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the UET- Peshawar, Pakistan. Dr. Ahmad obtained a two-year Post-doctoral fellowship from the University of Luxembourg. Dr. Ahmad is a board member of the International Society of Automation – Edmonton (as Co-UofA Student Section Advisor) and a member of APEGA, CSME, and ASME. He is also an active editor, reviewer, and organizer of numerous international conferences and journals. Dr. Ahmad is the recipient of the prestigious Edmonton’s 2022 Top 40 under 40 Award by Edify Magazine for his serial innovation and streamlined technology development to impact our society. He is also the director and founder of the Canadian not-for-profit ProBEEs Digital Education Society.



Dr. Rafiq Ahmad, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta

Smart & Sustainable Manufacturing System Laboratory (SMART LAB) & Aquaponics 4.0 Learning Factory (AllFactory) 10-328 DICE Building, 9211 116 Street, NW, T6W2R3, Edmonton.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +1 (780) 492 7180, LinkedIn: Rafiq Ahmad, Ph.D, P.Eng. | LinkedIn Website:


Towards Industry 5.0: Are we ready for a new revolution in Industry?


The outbreak of COVID-19 is a human tragedy impacting the lives of people, businesses, and the global economy. This pandemic has disrupted the face of technology, the supply chain, the way of life, human-centric systems, and novel technological development. Besides sustaining survival, our Industry needs to overcome challenges, including 1) the safety of workers, 2) engineering solutions to boost the economy after post-covid scenarios, 3) the production margins, and 4) the shift of jobs to new skills and technological requirements. Industry 5.0 recognizes the power of Industry to achieve societal goals beyond jobs and growth to become resilient production respect the boundaries of our planet and human existence. Dr. Ahmad is a leading expert in “smart manufacturing systems and technologies,” focusing specifically on innovations in manufacturing through digitization (Industry 4.0), sustainability (Industry 5.0), sensory systems, and machine learning (artificial intelligence). Therefore, this presentation will emphasize engineering solutions based on innovative design, creative problem solving, robotics, digitization, and technologies to enhance human-centric approaches, safety, resilience, and sustainability.



Amir Hussain

Edinburgh Napier University, UK


Amir Hussain is Professor and founding Director of the Centre of AI and Robotics at Edinburgh Napier University, UK. His research interests are cross-disciplinary and industry-led, aimed at developing cognitive data science and trustworthy AI technologies to engineer the smart healthcare and industrial systems of tomorrow. He has (co)authored around 600 research publications (h-index: 68), including over 250 journal papers and 20 Books/monographs. He has supervised over 40 PhD students and led major national and international projects. He is currently managing research grants totalling over £5Million, including as Lead Principal Investigator for the COG-MHEAR Programme Grant (funded under the UK EPSRC Transformative Healthcare Technologies 2050 Call) that aims to develop truly personalised, multi-modal hearing assistive technology. He is also leading the related UK EPSRC project: NATGEN, developing privacy-preserving and emotion-sensitive conversational agents for natural language dialogue in low-resource domains. He is founding Chief Editor of Springer’s Cognitive Computation journal (SCI impact factor: 5.4) and editorial board member for Elsevier’s Information Fusion and several IEEE Transactions including on: Neural Networks and Learning Systems; Artificial Intelligence; Systems, Man and Cybernetics (Systems); and Emerging Topics in Computational Intelligence. He has served as General Chair of IEEE WCCI 2020 (the world’s largest  technical event on computational intelligence, comprising the flagship IJCNN, FUZZ-IEEE and IEEE CEC) and is currently General Chair of the 2023 IEEE Smart World Congress (featuring six co-located IEEE Conferences). He is an Executive Committee member of the UKCRC (the national expert panel of the IET and the BCS for UK computing research) and Chapter Chair of the IEEE UK and Ireland Industry Applications Society.

Transformative AI-enabled Multi-modal Assistive Hearing and Healthcare Technologies


 Hearing loss affects at least 1.5 billion people globally and is associated with poorer health and social outcomes. Hearing Aids (HAs) are currently the most widely used devices for compensating the majority of hearing losses. Recent technological advances have enabled low-latency, high data-rate wireless solutions for in-ear hearing assistive devices, which have primarily reformed the current innovation direction of the hearing industry. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 83% of people who could benefit from hearing aids (HAs) do not use them. Barriers to HA uptake are multifaceted and can include: social stigma; cost; a lack of understanding of hearing loss interventions; and limitations of current HA technology. Despite significant recent advances in artificial intelligence and speech enhancement research, only a very limited number of developments have been implemented into commercially available HAs and cochlear implants. Consequently, even sophisticated aids, including latest Bluetooth-enabled HAs remain ineffective in very noisy environments where human performance is known to be dependent upon input from both the aural and visual senses – we use our eyes to help us hear. Creating transformative multi-modal HAs that draw on the cognitive principles of normal (visually-assisted) hearing raises a number of formidable technical, privacy and usability  challenges which need to be tackled holistically. These are the focus of COG MHEAR, a cross-disciplinary research programme funded under the UK EPSRC Transformative Healthcare Technologies 2050 Call. COG-MHEAR is developing the world’s first multi-modal HA demonstrators by radically exploiting and integrating the transformative potential of trustworthy AI, 5G, Internet of Things, wireless sensing and wearable flexible/skin electronics and robotics. This keynote talk will give an overview of COG-MHEAR including prototype demonstrations. These will serve to outline current and future research directions, including clinical evaluation and commercialization challenges, and opportunities for wider impact on multimodal healthcare technologies