By the RAS Technical Committee on Haptics
It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Professor Vincent Hayward on Wednesday, 10 May, at the age of 68. Vincent was an exceptional individual who dedicated his life to the fields of haptics and robotics, leaving an indelible mark on the scientific community.
After receiving his doctorate at the University of Paris XI, he joined the School of Engineering of Purdue University in 1981 and then CNRS (1983-85). In 1989, Vincent joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University, starting as an Assistant Professor and eventually rising to the positions of Associate Professor and, ultimately, full Professor in 2006. His unwavering passion for his field led him to join the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in 2008. In 2017-2018, he took a leave of absence to become a Professor of Tactile Perception and Technology at the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London, supported by a prestigious Leverhulme Trust Fellowship. Prior to that, he also had received an advanced ERC grant, which showcases his excellence in research. Since 2016, he has spent part of his time contributing to the development of a start-up company in Paris, Actronika SAS, dedicated to the development of haptic technology. He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 2008 and a member of the French Academy of Sciences in 2019.
Throughout his career, Vincent focused on exploring the realms of touch and haptics, robotics, and control. His contributions to these fields were significant and will continue to inspire future generations. He was one of the first scientists to write general purpose software for robotics. His RCCL library was instrumental to the development of the first large-scale demonstrators. In addition to his academic pursuits, Vincent dedicated himself to nurturing the next wave of talent. His commitment to pedagogy and mentorship was resolute, and he invested considerable time and effort in creating engaging haptics courses during his tenures at McGill University and Sorbonne University.
Vincent was not only a brilliant scientist but also a beacon of enthusiasm and curiosity. He epitomized the sheer joy of scientific exploration, embracing intuition and introspection to generate groundbreaking ideas. His relentless pursuit of knowledge allowed him to unravel the unexpected and to expand our understanding of the intricate haptics system. Vincent took great pride in his undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral trainees, watching them flourish as they became esteemed professors with their own thriving research programs and respected industry researchers with leading companies.
Those fortunate enough to have known Vincent will remember him for his wisdom, determination, kindness, and boundless generosity. He touched the lives of countless friends, colleagues, and trainees, leaving an enduring legacy that will continue to resonate within the scientific community.
Although his physical presence is no longer with us, the impact of Vincent's work and his spirit will live on, inspiring us to push boundaries, embrace curiosity, and create a better world through science. May his memory be a guiding light for all those who embark on the path of knowledge and discovery. We send our deepest condolences and wish to pay heartfelt tribute to the enduring support of Anh-Thu Dinh, Vincent’s longtime partner, who remained steadfastly by his side until the very end. At this link, you can leave a personal message to remember and honor Vincent.