Obama announces National Robotics Initiative; NASA, NSF, NIH, USDA partner to develop advanced robotics

WASHINGTON, 27 June 2011. Officials from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are partnering on the National Robotics Initiative (NRI): “The realization of co-robots acting in direct support of individuals and groups,” introduced by President Obama. The NRI is designed to accelerate U.S. development and use of robots that work beside or cooperatively with people.

Jun 27th, 2011

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

WASHINGTON, 27 June 2011. Officials from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are partnering on the National Robotics Initiative (NRI): “The realization of co-robots acting in direct support of individuals and groups,” introduced by President Obama. The NRI is designed to accelerate U.S. development and use of robots that work beside or cooperatively with people.

“The purpose of this program is the development of this next generation of robotics, to advance the capability and usability of such systems and artifacts, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative application areas,” reveals the NSF program solicitation.

The NSF will lead the NRI, with help from NASA and support from the USDA and NIH. Investments in the initiative from NASA, NIH, NSF, and USDA are likely to reach $40 million to $50 million in the first year; funding is expected to grow as other agencies and industry partners join the initiative.

"To help everyone from factory workers to astronauts carry out more complicated tasks, NASA and other agencies will support research into next-generation robotics," President Obama said in his speech Friday at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

"NASA has been focused on human-robotic interaction for more than a decade, leading to the flight of our newest crew member on the International Space Station, Robonaut2," says NASA's chief technologist, Bobby Braun. "Our challenge today is to develop robotics technology that can increase the effectiveness and safety of humans in space and deliver cutting-edge science. Through our participation in the National Robotics Initiative, NASA will create the new knowledge, technology and capabilities needed for our future space missions while benefiting life here on Earth, today."

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