We tend to think of robot stories as an invention of modern science fiction. But Signe Cohen, a professor of religious studies, has found many of them in ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts from India. The stories address very current questions about the abuse of power and what it means to be human.

You can hear these ancient robot tales in the latest episode of Eureka!, a podcast about research and discovery at Mizzou.

Also in the show, drop in on the new Architectural Robotics class, where Engineering Professor Marjorie Skubic is melding the field of design with electrical and computer engineering. And hear how a plant scientist and an engineer are speeding crop research using robots.

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Signe Cohen, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, researches Hinduism and Buddhism. She's taken a special interest in how Hindu and Buddhist robot stories express fundamental beliefs about soul and soullessness.

Marjori Skubic, a professor in the College of Engineering, works with motion-capture sensors and to spot health problems in older adults. She co-teaches an architectural robotics class wherein engineering students team up with architectural studies students to create innovative interdisciplinary projects.

Felix Fritschi, a professor of plant science, and Guilherme DeSouza, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, collaborated to develop VINOBOT, a robot that gathers field data on plants. The project is part of their work under a $20 million National Science Foundation grant exploring the implications of climate change in Missouri.

Music

  • Chris Stephens, a graduate student in musical geography, performs the sitar.
  • Anand Prahlad, a professor of English, performs the slit drum and the xylophone.