It's been almost a year since the President announced his National Robotics Initiative to accelerate the development of next-generation robots capable of working closely with human operators. The initiative launched with tens of millions of dollars in combined commitments from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Agriculture, and NASA, and has already resulted in a number of projects moving forward.
Then, last fall, the Department of Defense (DOD) added momentum of its own, with the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program explicitly encouraging proposals "for instrumentation supporting research in robotics."
The results are in! We count at least a dozen winning proposals involving robotics research in areas such as unmanned underwater vehicles; mobile robots for field assembly, repair and maintenance; autonomous seagliders for Arctic research; and micro air vehicles. These DOD grants to university researchers will allow them to invest in robots and other kinds of high-tech equipment to augment their research.
Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to DOD for its strong support of the National Robotics Initiative. We look forward to seeing all of these robots at work!
Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy at the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Chuck Thorpe is Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics at the Office of Science and Technology Policy