Raibert Kicks Off Robotics Week Celebration

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Marc Raibert

Amidst the hoopla of Carnival, Carnegie Mellon University will once again be celebrating National Robotics Week, beginning with an April 10 lecture by Marc Raibert, the chief technology officer and director of Boston Dynamics.

Lectures by Robotics Institute alumnus and entrepreneur Boris Sofman, a preview of this summer’s annual Robot Film Festival and the annual Mobot races are among the other events of National Robotics Week. The national event celebrates U.S. leadership in robotics, raises public awareness of robotics and seeks to inspire students to pursue careers in robotics.

Pre-registration is required or advised for all the events. To pre-register, click here.

Raibert, a former Robotics Institute faculty member, will present the annual Teruko Yata Memorial Lecture in Robotics, “Walk, Bound, Gallop, Climb,” at noon in the Rashid Auditorium in the Gates and Hillman centers. The talk will include a status report on the robots Boston Dynamics is developing, including the four-legged LS3 – a follow-on to the famous BigDog robot -- Cheetah, a fast-running quadruped, and Atlas, an anthropomorphic robot designed to perform real-world tasks, such as driving vehicles, using power tools and working in a human-engineered environment.

All of the robots employ dynamic balance, a concept that Raibert initially explored with a series of one-legged robots in his Leg Lab, first at Carnegie Mellon and later at MIT.

Sofman, the CEO of Anki, a robotics startup he founded with two fellow Robotics Institute alumni and that now employs 11 RI graduates, will present a special talk, “Consumer Robotics: Story and Lessons,” at 2:30 p.m. in the Rashid Auditorium.

Anki's first product, Anki DRIVE, is the first game to combine the speed and excitement of scale model car racing with the gameplay, weapons, and characters of video games. Launched in October 2013 in partnership with Apple, each car in DRIVE understands its position, can move incredibly precisely, and can think and drive for themselves. This creates an unprecedented level of interaction and intelligence in physical characters in a mass-market consumer product.

Sofman’s talk will share a bit of the Anki story and some of the lessons learned in developing a consumer product from prototype to mass production, including balancing price and functionality, quickly reacting to new technologies and trends and growing a diverse team.

The annual Robot Film Festival, the brainchild of Heather Knight, a Ph.D. student in robotics, will be July 12-13 in San Francisco. A satellite performance and screening will be at 6 p.m. April 10 in the Rashid Auditorium. This will feature short films, music videos, and advertisements featuring stories told with robots: real and animated, good and evil, cute and ugly. 

The 20th annual Mobot races, in which teams send their small, autonomous vehicles through a timed, slalom run down the walkway in the mall outside of Wean and Doherty halls, will be from noon to 2 p.m. April 11. The awards ceremony will follow at 3 p.m. in Rashid Auditorium.

The Robotics Institute will conduct lab tours on April 11 to people who have pre-registered. A reception, including robot displays, will be from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Planetary Robotics Lab on the first floor of the Gates and Hillman centers.

Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice@cs.cmu.edu