Monday marked the first of four days celebrating the anniversary of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. This month marks the 25th year of innovation for the Robotics Institute.
The Institute was founded by Raj Reddy, Angel Jordan, and Tom Murrin, professors at the time, when the field of robotics was relatively primitive. Their vision has put Carnegie Mellon on the map in that field. Their goal was to make Carnegie Mellon "the best place on the Earth to do robotics research."
Senior Scientist in Robotics David Alan Bourne, who has worked for the Robotics Institute for 24 years, has witnessed an evolution in terms of focus and support. Initially, the institute applied research in robotics to practical industrial mechanisms. The Westinghouse Corporation donated $3 million, becoming the first supporter of the Institute.
"When we started in 1980, we only had funding from one corporation, and the amount was rather small," said Bourne.
Today the Robotics Institute receives upwards of $40 million dollars each year from groups such as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and other federal and non-federal sources. The focus has expanded to provide benefits to society as a whole rather than just industry. The institute now offers PhD and Masters programs and has spun off other research institutes, including the Language Technologies Institute.
Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute is one of the largest in the world. Although their efforts and approaches have diversified over time, they have retained their original goal of realizing the enormous potential of robotics.
Bourne pointed out that the Tuesday's schedule is set up so that a student with an hour of time here or there can stop by and participate. He also encouraged students to check out a concert on Thursday by Laurie Anderson, NASA's first ever artist in residence. The cost is $10 for students and the concert will be a mix of story telling and new age music.
On Monday, the anniversary events commence with Robot Hall of Fame inductions at the Carnegie Science Center. The Robot Hall of Fame honors real and fictional robots and their creators in recognition of the increasing benefits robots are bringing to society.Five robots (3 fictional and 2 real) are included in the second class of inductees. Last year's inductees were R2-D2, the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner, HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Unimat (the first industrial robot).
Prior to the induction, Burton C. Morris will autograph the anniversary's poster, which he designed, in the University Center.
Tuesday is community day and will include demonstrations and seminars throughout the day. Included among the many demonstrations is Segway Soccer: Humans vs. Robots and the Robotic Bagpiper.
The Grand Challenges of Robotics Symposium will be held all day Wednesday. In the late afternoon, the Robotics Institute founders will hold a Founder's Panel to be followed by a Founders Reception and an exclusive preview of the54th Carnegie International art exhibit.
Thursday, October 14, marks the final day of events and will feature Robotics Institute tours and a School of Computer Science Alumni Reception. There will alsobe a special Brown Bag Show of the DaVinci Effect. The event comes to a close on Thursday night with the concert by Laurie Anderson at the Byham Theater downtown.
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