The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and NASA, has announced new investments totaling approximately $38 million for the development and use of robots that cooperatively work with people to enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety.
These mark the second round of funding awards made through the National Robotics Initiative (NRI) launched with NSF as the lead federal agency just over two years ago as part of President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Initiative.
“NSF is proud to work with other government agencies to fund research that furthers technological advances in robotics,” said NSF Acting Director Cora Marrett. “Co-robots work alongside humans and make Americans more effective and efficient in many vital areas related to safety, productivity and health. This research continually expands what robots can do to enhance human capabilities.”
Funded projects target the creation of next-generation collaborative robots, or co-robots, for advanced manufacturing; civil and environmental infrastructure; health care and rehabilitation; military and homeland security; space and undersea exploration; food production, processing and distribution; independence and quality of life improvement and driver safety.
NSF funded 30 new projects, an investment of approximately $31 million during the next three years to advance the science of robotics across multiple sectors. This year’s projects include research to improve robotic motion–advancing bipedal movement, dexterity and manipulation of robots and prostheses–and robotic sensing–advancing theories, models and algorithms to share and analyze data for robots to perform collective behaviors with humans and with other robots.
The projects also aim to enhance 3-D printing, develop co-robot mediators, improve the training of robots, advance the capabilities of surgical robotics and provide assistive robots for people with disabilities. In addition, the projects will improve the capability of robots for lifting and transporting heavy objects and for dangerous and complex tasks like search and rescue during disaster response.