The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing a rethink in robotics. In the form it is known today, robotics has been the prerogative of a broad community of insiders. But now, in the wreckage left behind by COVID-19, a new era is beginning. What does it hold? During the pandemic, increasing numbers of people had manifested the hope that robotics might bring novel solutions. And this interest has emerged beyond the usual boundaries of the experts or technology enthusiasts. This provides an opportunity to reinforce the community of people involved in the process of innovation. By involving citizens, the community becomes more comprehensive (that is, plural and diverse). This broadening will involve more practical knowledge and therefore produce better robots of many shapes and functions. If progress is possible in the industry, why not in the hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, and schools? What is more, the approach endorsed by the Italian robotics community during the lockdown has established a new cooperation among those who labor with robots, and the professionals who work in hospitals, which is bound to last a long time. As a major impact, this experience will enable an improvement on science's relationship with and for society. This may entail a further shift: to value more scientific knowledge and scientific literacy.
Sciutti, A., Battaglia, F., Fossati, M.R., Calderai, V., Catalano, M.G., Antonelli, G., et al. (2021). Making an Opportunity out of a Crisis: The Inclusive Approach of the Italian Robotics Community. IEEE ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION MAGAZINE, 28(4), 79-91 [10.1109/MRA.2021.3105639].