RI Professor Receives MURI Award To Help Robots Solve Problems

Laura SnyderThursday, March 28, 2024

The Robotics Institute's David Held is one of two CMU faculty members selected to lead teams receiving Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative funding from the Department of Defense (DoD).

David Held, an associate professor in Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, is one of two CMU faculty members selected to lead teams receiving Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) funding from the Department of Defense (DoD).

Created in 1985, the highly competitive MURI program provides important funding to teams pursuing basic research spanning multiple scientific disciplines with the goal of cultivating newly emerging technologies to address the DoD's unique challenges. The 2024 MURI awards total $221 million and will support 30 teams at 73 academic institutions across the country. 

At CMU, Held will lead a team of researchers from fields including neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, robotics and computer vision on a project that aims to help develop robots that can handle unexpected challenges. 

"Robot systems today, when they encounter something they haven't seen before, will just get stuck and not make progress," Held said. "Humans and animals don't work like this. When they try something and it doesn't work, they'll try different strategies until they find a solution. The idea behind our MURI project is to try to study how humans and animals do that and then bring some of those ideas to robots." 

Held's team includes researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Princeton University; Stanford University and the University of Washington. 

Across campus, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Kaushik Dayal will lead a team of researchers on a project to improve the resilience of defense-related materials under extreme conditions.

"Being selected to lead two out of 30 prestigious MURI research awards speaks to the excellence of CMU's interdisciplinary research teams and their partners, as well as the depth of expertise and creativity that they bring to bear in solving the nation's complex science and engineering challenges," said Theresa Mayer, CMU's vice president for research. "Through the MURI awards, CMU's researchers are poised to make immense, cross-disciplinary contributions to the advancement of cutting-edge technologies that enhance the country's most vital national security capabilities."

For more information about the MURI program, read the full story on the CMU News website.

For More Information

Aaron Aupperlee | 412-268-9068 | aaupperlee@cmu.edu