UC San Diego Launches Robotics Institute


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The Jacobs School of Engineering and Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, San Diego have launched the Contextual Robotics Institute to develop safe and useful robotics systems. These robotics systems will function in the real world based on the contextual information they perceive, in real time. Elder care and assisted living, disaster response, medicine, transportation and environmental sensing are just some of the helpful applications that could emerge from tomorrow’s human-friendly robots.

The Contextual Robotics Institute will leverage UC San Diego’s research strengths in engineering, computer science and cognitive science and work collaboratively across the campus and the region to establish San Diego as a leader in the research, development and production of human-friendly robotics systems.

“This is an extremely exciting time for robotics researchers,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, who is also a world-renowned roboticist. “Many robotics subfields have seen incredible advances in the last few years. The time is right for UC San Diego to step up and take a leadership role in the future of robotics.”

More than 40 UC San Diego professors and research scientists have elected to be a part of the Contextual Robotics Institute at its launch. These researchers and their teams are performing $10 million in robotics-related research this year.

The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering is currently working to hire a faculty director for the Institute as well as three additional robotics faculty. This comes on the heels of four robotics hires at the Jacobs School over the last two years.

“One of my goals for this Institute is to ensure that San Diego develops into a world-class center for the design, development and production of useful consumer robotics that act based on a real-time understanding of the world,” said Albert P. Pisano, Dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “Now is the time to focus on systems integration and assemble ever more perceptive robotics systems.”

Achieving this goal will require significant collaborations between researchers at the Jacobs School of Engineering, the Division of Social Sciences and across the entire campus.

“We are seeking to enhance collaboration between scientists from different fields so that the next generation of machines we build are machines that humans can use better,” said UC San Diego Dean of Social Sciences Carol Padden. “What social scientists bring to the enterprise is a deep understanding of humans—our behavior and brains, and our emotional and social needs. Social scientists also investigate the public space and cultural infrastructure. By designing more responsive robots that are compatible with humans and in sync with social practices, we can build machines to serve humanity.”

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