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Big Nsf Grant Funds Research Into Training Robots to Work With Humans

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UC Berkeley professors Ken Goldberg and Pieter Abbeel

Berkeley professors Ken Goldberg (left) and Pieter Abbeel (right) work on the RAVEN surgical robot in a Soda Hall lab.

Credit: Cheryl Martinez / UC Berkeley

The U.S. National Science Foundation has awarded a $3.5 million grant to University of California, Berkeley robotics researchers Ken Goldberg and Pieter Abbeel and colleagues from four other universities to pursue research into training robots to work with humans. The researchers say robots and humans could potentially work together in surgery or manufacturing, performing tasks that neither could do alone. The goal is to teach robots to properly handle objects of variable sizes and shapes.

As part of the four-year project, the team will investigate ways to train robots to perform multilateral manipulation, with humans providing perception and adaptability. The researchers say the robots will provide speed, precision, accuracy, and dexterity. Roboticists from Stanford, Johns Hopkins, University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Washington also are involved in the project, which is part of the funding for the National Robotics Initiative, announced last year with the goal of exploring how robots can enhance the work of humans rather than replace them.

"The emerging generation of robots are more aware than oblivious, more social than solitary, and more like companions than tools," Goldberg says.

From UC Berkeley NewsCenter
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