May 29, 2014      
?We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run
and underestimate the effect in the long run.? ?Rod Brooks

He probably feels, and rightfully so, that it?s been a long time in coming?although he?s far too humble to gripe.

Rod Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics, has finally scored an Engelberger Award, and now joins an illustrious mob of greats in robotics who have been getting them since 1977.

Rod?s backstory is quite amazing, which begs the question: what took this award so long in coming his way? Check out this snippet of a Wiki on him:

?Rod?s an [MIT] Aussie [in the mold of fellow MIT Aussie, Gordon Brown, before him] and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, author, and robotics entrepreneur, most known for popularizing the actionist approach to robotics. He was a Panasonic Professor of Robotics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [and director of MIT?s CSAIL, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory]. He is a founder and former CTO of iRobot and co-founder, chairman and CTO of Rethink Robotics (formerly Heartland Robotics).?

That?s more than award-winning right there, correct?

Even cooler than that, Rod was thinking interesting things like this back in 1990 (years before robots went digital!):


?His 1990 paper, Elephants Don’t Play Chess, Brooks argued that in order for robots to accomplish everyday tasks in an environment shared by humans, their higher cognitive abilities, including abstract thinking emulated by symbolic reasoning, need to be based on the primarily sensory-motor coupling (action) with the environment, complemented by the proprioceptive sense which is a key component in hand-eye coordination.?

That?s a bit of prescient thinking about robots and humans sharing space together. Something that even Joe Engelberger himself, if he has any say in who gets awards with his moniker on them, would have named-dropped Rod to the judges a long time ago.

Someone on the Engelberger Award committee must have been long aware of Rod?s TED Talk from 2003 (now having been viewed by a half-million people) that made some eye-opening predictions?more than a decade ago?that have all come to pass.

Quite the contribution to technology: Rod nailed the future of robotics ten years in advance.

What?s a guy to do?

But okay, all that passed-over stuff is long forgotten now; the award has arrived and the right guy finally got his due recognition.

That leaves only Pete Rose still waiting.

About the ceremony

The Engelberger Robotics Award, will be presented to Dr. Rodney Brooks, Dr. Rory Cooper and Dr. Vijay Kumar at a special ceremony on Monday, June 2 in Munich, Germany.

The ceremony is held in conjunction with the joint 45th International Symposium on Robotics (ISR 2014) and 8th German Conference on Robotics (ROBOTIK 2014). The ISR 2014 and ROBOTIK 2014 conference is organized as part of AUTOMATICA, the International Trade Fair for Automation and Mechatronics, June 3-6, 2014 in Munich.

Each recipient will receive a special plaque, commemorative medallion and a $5,000 honorarium.

Beginning with the initial presentation in 1977, 119 industry leaders from 17 nations have now been selected for this honor.