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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.



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.


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.



Zhang Dong

Shandong Academy of Sciences,China


Zhang Dong , Professor , Shandong Academy of Sciences, Adjunct professor, doctoral supervisor of Tashkent State Technical University, Adjunct professor of Tashkent Chemical Technology Institute(UZBEKISTAN). He graduated from Northwestern Polytechnical University in 1989 with master degree. In 1989, he worked in Shandong Academy of Sciences, He used to be the director of Robot Laboratory , deputy director of Automation Institute of Shandong Academy of Sciences. He is the Member of “Robotics Committee, Chinese Association of Automation”, International Program committee of World Conference “Intelligent System for Industrial Automation”, editorial board member of “Chemical Technology,    Control and Management “.

Prof.Zhang Dong has long been engaged in the research of robotics , automation technology and intelligent agricultural machine . He has undertaken a number of national major research projects and Shandong Province major research projects, published monographs “Industrial Process Control “, “Computer Information Management and Computer Control Technology” and “Technology and Application of Underwater Robot” . He has published more than 50 papers and won 10 invention patents,  first prize of Shandong Science and Technology Golden Bridge Award , second prize and  third prize of computer achievements in Shandong Province.

Smart agriculture is the only solution to food security


 Agriculture is the foundation for national security, stability and development in both developed and developing countries. Most developed countries such as the United States, Japan, Israel, etc., have relatively advanced agricultural production technology. According to the report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022” jointly released by FAO and others, the number of people affected by hunger in the world has reached 828 million in 2021, and about 2.3 billion people in the world (29.3%) are facing moderate or severe food insecurity [1]. Food security of the world faces severe challenges.With the development of technology and the reduction of rural labor force, smart agriculture has become the development direction today and in the future, and it is also the only way for countries to solve the food crisis.