Worcester, Mass. Sonia Chernova, assistant professor of computer science and robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has received a five-year, $500,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research aimed at paving the way for general purpose robots that can work effectively and productively alongside people in everyday settings. Chernova was one of two WPI faculty members to receive the CAREER Award, the most prestigious NSF award for faculty members early in their careers as researchers and educators, this year and is one of 18 current WPI faculty members who have won this honor.
"We congratulate Professor Chernova on earning this exceptional award," said WPI Provost Eric Overstrm. "With this grant, she will undertake important work with the potential to bring about significant advances in her field and profound improvements in our quality of life."
General purpose robots must able to adapt easily to take on new jobs and respond to the changing needs of their human partnersfor example, performing routine housekeeping tasks to help the elderly continue living in their own homes or enabling small manufacturers to quickly gear up to make new products without having to employ a staff of programmers. The need to accelerate the development of such robots was an important element of the robotics research roadmap presented to Congress in 2009 by the Computing Community Consortium and the National Robotics Initiative announced by President Obama in 2011.
Chernova argues that to realize this vision, the way robots are taught to perform tasks has to fundamentally change. "Currently, we attempt to preprogram all of the knowledge a robot needs to operate in our world," she says. "In this way, we've been successful at developing robots to work in constrained environments, such as assembly lines. But we have not been so successful at getting robots to work in natural, unconstrained environme
|Contact: Michael Dorsey|
Worcester Polytechnic Institute