Roboticist and founder and CEO of Aubot
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Roboticist Marita was inducted as the youngest Member of the Order of Australia, named by Forbes as one of the World's Top 50 Women in Tech, and Young Australian of the Year. She founded Aubot, a telepresence robot designed for children with cancer to virtually attend school, and people with a disability to attend work.
Marita Cheng is a technology entrepreneur, roboticist, and women in technology advocate. She is the founder and CEO of Aubot (formerly called 2Mar Robotics), which makes a telepresence robot, Teleport, for kids with cancer in hospital to attend school, people with a disability to attend work and to monitor and socialise with elderly people. Teleports have been sold to offices, museums, in hospitals and for security. As well as telepresence robots, Aubot does research and development in robotic arms, virtual reality and autonomous mapping and navigation.
Marita was born in Queensland, Australia. She grew up in housing commission with her brother and single-parent mother, who worked as a hotel room cleaner. She graduated from high school in the top 0.2% of the nation and was awarded Cairns Young Citizen of the Year for her volunteering and extra-curricular efforts, which included winning awards for mathematics, Japanese and piano. Marita speaks English, Cantonese and Japanese.
Aubot has been recognised on a global scale through the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list and being called "the coolest girl at CES" by VentureBeat magazine. Marita has presented about Teleport at the M.A.P. International CEO Conference in the Philippines, MIT Technology Review EmTech, and the World Entrepreneurship Forum in France.
Marita attended Singularity University's 10-week flagship Graduate Studies Program, funded by a $40,000 scholarship from Google. While there, she cofounded Aipoly. It’s first application recognises objects in real time on a smartphone using convolutional neural networks and relays them to people who are visually impaired. Since launching at CES Aipoly is now available in twenty-three languages and has been downloaded over five hundred thousand times.
She was named Young Australian of the Year for demonstrating vision and leadership well beyond her years as the Founder and Executive Director of Robogals Global. Noticing the low number of girls in her engineering classes at the University of Melbourne, Marita rounded up her fellow engineering peers and they went to schools to teach girls robotics, to encourage them into engineering. While on academic exchange at Imperial College London, she expanded the group to London and through innovation and sheer will, Marita then expanded Robogals throughout Australia, the UK, the USA, and Japan. The group runs robotics workshops, career talks and various other community activities to introduce young women to engineering.
Robogals has now taught one hundred thousand girls from eleven countries robotics workshop. It has been internationally recognised though the Global Engineering Deans Council Diversity in Engineering Award, Grace Hopper Celebration’s Anita Borg Change Agent Award, and the International Youth Foundation’s YouthActionNet Fellowship.
Smart Girl Books: Marita Cheng, is the world's first children book memoir using generative artificial intelligence art. Using text descriptions, Marita generated all the images in the book using AI. She wrote the book to get girls interested in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.
Marita regularly travels presenting her work including appearing on a Q&A beside two Nobel Laureates and the Chief Scientist of Australia, and alongside Ashton Kutcher at Lenovo’s #TechMyWay.
Marita serves on the boards of Robogals Global, the Foundation for Young Australians, and RMIT's New Enterprise Investment Fund, where she helps decide on start-up investments. She is also on the Victorian State Innovation Expert Panel, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative's Tech Advisory Board.
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