The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) announced the winners of the Engelberger Robotics Awards. The 2017 Engelberger Robotics Award will be presented to Dr. Gill Pratt, chief executive officer of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), and Dr. Daniela Rus, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A special ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Automate 2017 Exhibition and Conference and the International Symposium on Robotics.
The award is named for Joseph F. Engelberger, known throughout the world as the ”father of robotics.” The Engelberger Robotics awards are presented to individuals for excellence in technology development, application, education and leadership in the robotics industry. Since the award’s inception in 1977, it has been bestowed upon 124 robotics leaders from 17 different nations.
As a professor at MIT, Pratt developed series elastic actuators and techniques for controlling low impedance robots. As a program manager at the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Pratt led programs in neuromorphic computing and robotic mobility and manipulation, and initiated and led the international DARPA Robotics Challenge.
Rus’ research group, the Distributed Robotics Lab, has developed modular and self-reconfiguring robots, systems of self-organizing robots, networks of robots and sensors for first-responders, mobile sensor networks, techniques for cooperative underwater robotics and new technology for desktop robotics. This includes robots that can tend a garden, bake cookies from scratch, cut a birthday cake, fly in swarms without human aid and dance with humans. The lab has also worked on self-driving golf carts, wheel chairs, scooters, and city cars with the objective of reducing traffic fatalities and providing technologies for personal mobility for the elderly population. Companies such as iRobot and Boeing have commercialized tech drawn from Dr. Rus’ research. She is the first woman to serve as director of CSAIL.
An award dinner will be held on Wednesday, April 5 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. Tickets for the event may be purchased when registering for the Automate 2017 exhibition and conference.