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Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 31 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Joanne Pransky

The following paper details a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky, Associate Editor of Industrial Robot Journal, to impart the combined technological, business and…

Abstract

Purpose

The following paper details a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky, Associate Editor of Industrial Robot Journal, to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned successful business leader, regarding the commercialization and challenges of bringing technological inventions to the market while overseeing a company. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Dr William “Red” Whittaker, Fredkin Research Professor of Robotics, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU); CEO of Astrobotic Technology; and President of Workhorse Technologies. Dr Whittaker provides answers to questions regarding the pioneering experiences of some of his technological wonders in land, sea, air, underwater, underground and space.

Findings

As a child, Dr Whittaker built things and made them work and dreamed about space and robots. He has since then turned his dreams, and those of the world, into realities. Dr Whittaker’s formal education includes a BS degree in civil engineering from Princeton and MS and PhD degrees in civil engineering from CMU. In response to designing a robot to cleanup radioactive material at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, Dr Whittaker established the Field Robotics Center (FRC) in 1983. He is also the founder of the National Robotics Engineering Center, an operating unit within CMU’s Robotics Institute (RI), the world’s largest robotics research and development organization. Dr Whittaker has developed more than 60 robots, breaking new ground in autonomous vehicles, field robotics, space exploration, mining and agriculture. Dr Whittaker’s research addresses computer architectures for robots, modeling and planning for non-repetitive tasks, complex problems of objective sensing in random and dynamic environments and integration of complete robot systems. His current focus is Astrobotic Technology, a CMU spin-off firm that is developing space robotics technology to support planetary missions. Dr Whittaker is competing for the US$20m Google Lunar XPRIZE for privately landing a robot on the Moon.

Originality/value

Dr Whittaker coined the term “field robotics” to describe his research that centers on robots in unconstrained, uncontrived settings, typically outdoors and in the full range of operational and environmental conditions: robotics in the “natural” world. The Field Robotics Center has been one of the most successful initiatives within the entire robotics industry. As the Father of Field Robotics, Dr Whittaker has pioneered locomotion technologies, navigation and route-planning methods and advanced sensing systems. He has directed over US$100m worth of research programs and spearheaded several world-class robotic explorations and operations with significant outreach, education and technology commercializations. His ground vehicles have driven thousands of autonomous miles. Dr Whittaker won DARPA’s US$2m Urban Challenge. His Humvees finished second and third in the 2005 DARPA’s Grand race Challenge desert race. Other robot projects have included: Dante II, a walking robot that explored an active volcano; Nomad, which searched for meteorites in Antarctica; and Tugbot, which surveyed a 1,800-acre area of Nevada for buried hazards. Dr Whittaker is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and served on the National Academy of Sciences Space Studies Board. Dr Whittaker received the Alan Newell Medal for Research Excellence. He received Carnegie Mellon’s Teare Award for Teaching Excellence. He received the Joseph Engelberger Award for Outstanding Achievement in Robotics, the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s inaugural Feigenbaum Prize for his contributions to machine intelligence, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Simon Ramo Medal, the American Society of Civil Engineers Columbia Medal, the Antarctic Service Medal and the American Spirit Honor Medal. Science Digest named Dr Whittaker one of the top 100 US innovators for his work in robotics. He has been recognized by Aviation Week & Space Technology and Design News magazines for outstanding achievement. Fortune named him a “Hero of US Manufacturing”. Dr Whittaker has advised 26 PhD students, has 16 patents and has authored over 200 publications. Dr Whittaker’s vision is to drive nanobiologics technology to fulfillment and create nanorobotic agents for enterprise on Earth and beyond (Figure 1).

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Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article

Joanne Pransky

The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal…

Abstract

Purpose

The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry PhD and innovator regarding her pioneering efforts and the challenges of bringing a technological invention to market. This paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Dr Maja Matarić, Chan Soon-Shiong Distinguished Professor in the Computer Science Department, Neuroscience Program, and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California, founding director of the USC Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center (RASC), co-director of the USC Robotics Research Lab and Vice Dean for Research in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. In this interview, Matarić shares her personal and business perspectives on socially assistive robotics.

Findings

Matarić received her PhD in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from MIT in 1994, MS in Computer Science from MIT in 1990 and BS in Computer Science from the University of Kansas in 1987. Inspired by the vast potential for affordable human-centered technologies, she went on to found and direct the Interaction Lab, initially at Brandeis University and then at the University of Southern California. Her lab works on developing human–robot non-physical interaction algorithms for supporting desirable behavior change; she has worked with a variety of beneficiary user populations, including children with autism, elderly with Alzheimer’s, stroke survivors and teens at risk for Type 2 diabetes, among others.

Originality/value

Matarić is a pioneer of the field of socially assistive robotics (SAR) with the goal of improving user health and wellness, communication, learning and autonomy. SAR uses interdisciplinary methods from computer science and engineering as well as cognitive science, social science and human studies evaluation, to endow robots with the ability to assist in mitigating critical societal problems that require sustained personalized support to supplement the efforts of parents, caregivers, clinicians and educators. Matarić is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow of the IEEE and AAAI, recipient of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award for Innovation, Okawa Foundation Award, NSF Career Award, the MIT TR35 Innovation Award, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award and has received many other awards and honors. She was featured in the science documentary movie “Me & Isaac Newton”, in The New Yorker (“Robots that Care” by Jerome Groopman, 2009), Popular Science (“The New Face of Autism Therapy”, 2010), the IEEE Spectrum (“Caregiver Robots”, 2010), and is one of the LA Times Magazine 2010 Visionaries. Matarić is the author of a popular introductory robotics textbook, “The Robotics Primer” (MIT Press 2007), an associate editor of three major journals and has published extensively.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 46 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article

Joanne Pransky

This paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned successful innovator and leader regarding the challenges of bringing technological discoveries to fruition. This paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Dr Robin R. Murphy, Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University; Co-lead, Emergency Informatics EDGE Innovation Network Center, Texas A&M, Director of the Humanitarian Robotics and AI Laboratory and Vice President of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) http://crasar.org. In this interview, Dr Murphy provides answers to questions regarding her pioneering experiences in rescue robotics.

Findings

As a child, Dr Murphy knew she wanted to be a mechanical engineer and obtained her BME degree from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). While working in industry after her BME, she fell in love with computer science and received an MS and PhD in Computer Science at Georgia Tech where she was a Rockwell International Doctoral Fellow. In the mid-1990s, while teaching at the Colorado School of Mines, she pioneered rescue robots after one of her graduate students returned from the Oklahoma City bombing and suggested that small rescue robots should be developed for future disasters. The National Science Foundation awarded Murphy and her students the first grant for search-and-rescue robots. She has since assisted in responses at more than 20 worldwide disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse, the Tohoku Tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

Originality/value

The response to the World Trade Center attacks after September 11, 2001 by Dr Murphy’s team from the University of South Florida (the only academic institution), along with four other teams brought together by CRASAR, marked the first recorded use of a rescue robot at a disaster site. In addition to being a founder in the field of rescue robots, she is also a founder in the field of human–robot interaction and the Roboticists Without Borders. She has written over 100 publications and three books: the best-selling textbook, Introduction to AI Robotics, Disaster Robotics and Robotics-Through-Science-Fiction: Artificial Intelligence Explained Six Classic Robot Short Stories. Dr Murphy has received approximately 20 national awards and honors including: the AUVSI’s Al Aube Outstanding Contributor Award, the Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics, CMU Field Robotics Institute “Pioneer in Field Robotics” and TIME Magazine, Innovators in Artificial Intelligence. She is an IEEE Fellow.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 45 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

To view the access options for this content please click here
Article

Joanne Pransky

The following article is a Q&A interview conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal…

Abstract

Purpose

The following article is a Q&A interview conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent robotic industry engineer-turned successful innovator and leader regarding the challenges of bringing technological discoveries to fruition. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Daniel Theobald, Co-Founder of Vecna Robotics. Vecna Robotics is a recognized global leader in next-generation robotics and automation solutions, with over 20 years of experience in developing cost-effective solutions in the fields of healthcare, education, business, government, material handling and beyond. In this interview, Theobald shares how his mission to empower humanity through transformative technologies led him to co-found and grow the profitable, privately funded Vecna to a 200-employee company that includes an extensive network of global partners and serves a worldwide customer base, without taking outside investment.

Findings

Theobald received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT. Graduating at the top of his class, Theobald received the Henry Ford II Scholar Award, the Hertz Foundation Award and a fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Through his graduate work at the MIT AI Laboratory, he developed web-based control algorithms for a robotic Mars explorer, a progenitor of the NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity. He served as Principal Investigator for many projects funded by DARPA, NIH, TATRC, US ARMY, ONR and many more. Theobald co-founded Vecna along with other MIT engineers in 1998 on the idea that people matter and that businesses can be profitable, ethical and socially responsible. The company motto “Better Technology, Better World” reflects Theobald’s philosophy that impact is the yardstick by which success is measured.

Originality/value

A humanistic roboticist and ethical innovator, Theobald has decades of experience in leading research scientists and teams of engineers in developing cutting-edge robotics technology. He has over 70 patents issued and pending. He invented and developed several robots, including the famous Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR), the QC Bot logistics solution and industrial logistics platforms. Theobald/Vecna awards include RBR50 Company Award, winner of the DHL and Dell Robotics Innovation Challenge, Mass Technology Leadership Council Award, Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award, Northrop Grumman Information Systems Annual Suppliers Excellence Award and the Tibbetts Award for Exceptional Innovation. He is the creator of the Convenient Care Model, which suggests that patients who have a more convenient healthcare experience will act more responsibly and will make better health decisions for themselves. In 2014, he co-founded and is currently president of MassRobotics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the global advancement of the robotics industry. He also co-created VecnaCares, a Vecna charity that is dedicated to improving health outcomes and access to quality care around the world. Under Theobald’s leadership, Vecna has performed over 170,000 hours of community service.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 45 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

To view the access options for this content please click here
Article

Joanne Pransky

This article, a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal, aims to impart the combined technological, business, and personal experience of a…

Abstract

Purpose

This article, a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal, aims to impart the combined technological, business, and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned entrepreneur regarding the evolution, commercialization, and challenges of bringing a technological invention to market.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Dr Rodney Brooks, the Panasonic Professor of Robotics (emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab; Founder, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Chairman of Rethink Robotics. Dr Brooks shares some of his underlying principles in technology, academia and business, as well as past and future challenges.

Findings

Dr Brooks received degrees in pure mathematics from the Flinders University of South Australia and a PhD in computer science from Stanford University in 1981. He held research positions at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, and a faculty position at Stanford before joining the faculty of MIT in 1984. He is also a Founder, Board Member and former CTO (1991-2008) of iRobot Corp (Nasdaq: IRBT). Dr Brooks is the former Director (1997-2007) of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and then the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He founded Rethink Robotics (formerly Heartland Robotics) in 2008.

Originality/value

While at MIT, in 1988, Dr Brooks built Genghis, a hexapodal walker, designed for space exploration (which was on display for ten years in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.). Genghis was one of the first robots that utilized Brooks’ pioneering subsumption architecture. Dr Brooks’ revolutionary behavior-based approach underlies the autonomous robots of iRobot, which has sold more than 12 million home robots worldwide, and has deployed more than 5,000 defense and security robots; and Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, the world’s first interactive production robot. Dr Brooks has won the Computers and Thought Award at the 1991 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the 2008 IEEE Inaba Technical Award for Innovation Leading to Production, the 2014 Robotics Industry Association’s Engelberger Robotics Award for Leadership and the 2015 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 42 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article

Joanne Pransky

The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal…

Abstract

Purpose

The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned successful innovator and leader, regarding the challenges of bringing technological discoveries to fruition. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Gianmarco Veruggio who is responsible for the Operational Unit of Genoa of the Italian National Research Council Institute of Electronics, Computer and Telecommunication Engineering (CNR-IEIIT). Veruggio is an early pioneer of telerobotics in extreme environments. Veruggio founded the new applicative field of Roboethics. In this interview, Veruggio shares some of his 30-year robotic journey along with his thoughts and concerns on robotics and society.

Findings

Gianmarco Veruggio received a master’s degree in electronic engineering, computer science, control and automation from Genoa University in 1980. From 1980 to 1983 he worked in the Automation Division of Ansaldo as a Designer of fault-tolerant multiprocessor architectures for fail-safe control systems and was part of the development team for the new automation of the Italian Railway Stations. In 1984, he joined the CNR-Institute of Naval Automation (IAN) in Genoa as a Research Scientist. There, he worked on real-time computer graphics for simulation, control techniques and naval and marine data-collection systems. In 1989, he founded the CNR-IAN Robotics Department (Robotlab), which he headed until 2003, to develop missions on experimental robotics in extreme environments. His approach utilized working prototypes in a virtual lab environment and focused on robot mission control, real-time human-machine interfaces, networked control system architectures for tele-robotics and Internet Robotics. In 2000, he founded the association “Scuola di Robotica” (School of Robotics) to promote this new science among young people and society at large by means of educational robotics. He joined the CNR-IEIIT in 2007 to continue his research in robotics and to also develop studies on the philosophical, social and ethical implications of Robotics.

Originality/value

Veruggio led the first Italian underwater robotics campaigns in Antarctica during the Italian expeditions in 1993, 1997 and 2001, and in the Arctic during 2002. During the 2001-2002 Antarctic expedition, he carried out the E-Robot Project, the first experiment of internet robotics via satellite in the Antarctica. In 2002, he designed and developed the Project E-Robot2, the first experiment of worldwide internet robotics ever carried out in the Arctic. During these projects, he organized a series of “live-science” sessions in collaboration with students and teachers of Italian schools. Beginning with his new “School of Robotics”, Veruggio continued to disseminate and educate young people on the complex relationship between robotics and society. This led him to coin the term and propose the concept of Roboethics in 2002, and he has since made worldwide efforts at dedicating resources to the development of this new field. He was the General Chair of the “First International Symposium on Roboethics” in 2004 and of the “EURON Roboethics Atelier” in 2006 that produced the Roboethics Roadmap. Veruggio is the author of more than 150 scientific publications. In 2006, he was presented with the Ligurian Region Award for Innovation, and in 2009, for his merits in the field of science and society, he was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, one of Italy’s highest civilian honors.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article

Joanne Pransky

This paper, a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal, aims to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper, a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal, aims to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned entrepreneur regarding the evolution, commercialization and challenges of bringing a technological invention to market.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Dr Esben H. Ostergaard, inventor, co-founder and chief technology officer of Universal Robots. From building his first robot to solve a local industrial problem at the age of four, to building the world’s first collaborative robot company, Dr Ostergaard shares his lifelong ventures as a robot scientist, inventor and entrepreneur.

Findings

Dr Ostergaard received degrees in computer science, physics and multimedia at Aarhus University in Denmark, and a PhD in robotics from the University of Southern Denmark. While at Aarhus, Dr Ostergaard pursued his hobby of robot football, and in 1998, his team STATIC became the world champion of the Federation of International Robot-soccer Association (FIRA). Dr Ostergaard held research positions at the University of Southern California (USC) Robotics Labs and at the Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba/Tokyo. During the years 2001-2005 as a researcher and assistant professor in robotics and user interfaces at University of Southern Denmark, he created the foundation for a reinvention of the industrial robot. This led him to found Universal Robots in 2005 with two of his research colleagues.

Originality/value

From a young child who played with LEGOs until he got a Commodore 64, Dr Ostergaard has always been interested in robotics. His unique multidisciplinary education and multicultural research experiences helped him to pioneer a new multi-axis, lightweight industrial robot and launch the successful company, Universal Robots, which has grown from its three co-founders to nearly 150 employees, with more than 4,000 collaborative robot applications installed in over 50 countries worldwide. Dr Ostergaard has over 30 patents and has received many awards, including the 2012 IEEE-IFR Invention and Entrepreneurship Award (IERA), the 2013 Japanese Institute Good Design Award, the 2013 Robotics Business Review Game Changer Award and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 in Region Funen.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 42 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article

Joanne Pransky

The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal…

Abstract

Purpose

The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned successful innovator and leader, regarding the challenges of bringing technological discoveries to fruition. This paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Martin Haegele, a renowned expert in industrial and service robot applications, technologies and markets. He is Division Director “Intelligent Automation and Clean Manufacturing” and Head of the department “Robot and Assistive Systems” at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (Fraunhofer IPA). In this interview, Haegele details some of the robotics projects he led and provides his outlook on the European robotics industry.

Findings

Haegele received a Dipl.-Ing. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Stuttgart in 1989 and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from George Washington University, Washington DC in 1989. Haegele has led the Robot Systems Department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, Germany since 1993, and is a member of the Fraunhofer IPA Board.

Originality/value

Inspired by the book Robotics in Service written by Joseph Engelberger in 1989, Haegele spearheaded ground-breaking applications in the service robot industry. He led a German study on the market potentials and challenges of service robots. He was the project leader and supervisor of numerous service robot developments including a fuel-refilling robot resulting in a fully operational gas station and several generations of mobile robots developed for museums, shopping centers and home applications. Haegele coordinated many publicly funded research projects to develop robot technologies for industrial and service applications. He was coordinator of two large-scale European initiatives (SMErobot and SMErobotics) for the creation of technologies and a new family of robots suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises. He has published more than 80 papers and book chapters and holds four patents. He is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Joseph Engelberger Award. Furthermore, Haegele is active in the International Federation of Robotics and the euRobotics association.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 45 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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