Director's Message: Klara Nahrstedt
Whether on the ground or in the air, robots are revolutionizing the way we live, work and play.
Robotics is the fastest growing industry in the world, with as many as half of all U.S. jobs projected to use intricate machines or software by 2025, according to a report from labor firm Littler Mendelson.
The Coordinated Science Laboratory has long recognized the importance that robotics plays in everything from defense to medicine. For decades, researchers have been advancing artificial intelligence, bioengineering, communications, control theory, signal processing, telecommunications and other disciplines that are critical to making breakthroughs in the field. As demand for smarter, more autonomous robotics increases, so does our investment in the area - starting with a new Intelligent Robotics Lab that will open this spring.
The Intelligent Robotics Lab, headed by CSL Professor Naira Hovakimyan (MechSE), will facilitate research related to UAVs and other robots. It will be housed in the new CSL Studio space located in the parking deck on the northeast corner of Clark Street and Mathews Avenue in Urbana. More than a dozen CSL researchers will be able to use the space to conduct research on everything from coordinating swarms of UAVs to creating ways to navigate in GPS-denied environments.
The new robotics lab comes on the heels of a $1.5 million grant to support the design of a robotic bat capable of supervising construction sites. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, supports the research efforts of CSL researchers Seth Hutchinson, Soon-Jo Chung and Tim Bretl, among others. Bretl also is working on a similar project that is using robotic bats to supervise the construction of the new Sacramento Kings arena in California and a residence hall here on campus.
In addition, CSL has acquired or is in the process of acquiring two new robots to help facilitate research. Baxter, who has joined Tim Bretl’s group, is a low-cost robot designed to help automate manufacturing in small- and medium-sized businesses. The lab is testing its hardware on Baxter, who could be used to assemble flexible parts, such as installing a cable harness in a car.
The Health Care Engineering Systems Center is also purchasing an open-source surgical robot called the Raven II. The system includes a two-armed surgical robot, a guiding video camera and a surgeon-interface system, and will enable HCESC researchers to test out more advanced surgical robotics techniques.
CSL is committed to investing in the people and infrastructure needed to solve the grand challenges facing advancements in robotics. We hope that you will take a few minutes to read more about our robotics efforts in this newsletter.