Carnegie Mellon to Launch Center for Innovative Robotics <br>Initiative Seeks To Expand Robotics Community andLower Development Costs With Gift From Microsoft

BY Byron Spice - Tue, 2006-06-20 12:00  Printer-friendly version

PITTSBURGH—Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute are creating the new Center for Innovative Robotics, a resource that will help make robotics accessible to a broader range of individuals and businesses.

"One of the goals of the center will be to promote interoperability between many types of robots and a variety of software, including use of the Internet for controlling robots," said Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics and director of the new center.

"Innovation in robotics is difficult today because the software development costs are so high," Nourbakhsh said. "People who have ideas for a new robot, or a new use for an existing robot, too often abandon the effort because they lack the specialized knowledge necessary for making hardware, software and sensors work together."

If software development for robotics becomes less daunting, Nourbakhsh added, more inventors and businesses may be willing to test their ideas and perhaps create innovative new robots or applications for robots.

Computer enthusiasts already have Web sites where they can share software code, but robotics requires more elaborate efforts. It's not enough to just swap software for controlling robots, Nourbakhsh said. Hardware solutions and sometimes even video showing robot behavior can be means to successfully sharing insights into robotics.

The center, established with financial support from the Microsoft Robotics Group, will operate a Web site, www.cir.ri.cmu.edu, where academics, students, commercial inventors and enthusiasts can share the ideas, technologies and software that are critical to robot development. It will utilize Microsoft's new Robotics Studio, a set of software tools designed to easily create robotics applications across a wide variety of hardware and scenarios. For more information on Microsoft Robotics Studio, see msdn.microsoft.com/robotics.

"Microsoft is proud to help Carnegie Mellon establish this new center and online community," said Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group. "Carnegie Mellon's new Center for Innovative Robotics, together with the launch of our new Robotics Studio development environment, will help broaden the reach of robotics for hobbyists, students and professors, as well as commercial developers, across a wide variety of hardware and scenarios."

The center will be housed in the Collaborative Innovation Center at Carnegie Mellon and will help create a virtual robotics community to share ideas and drive collaboration to future robotic development through the use of its Web site. Nourbakhsh said he hopes the center will begin full operations by late 2006.

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About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 140-acre campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities for the world-renowned programs in its College of Fine Arts. For more information, visit www.cmu.edu.

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