Daniela Rus, director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has received the Engelberger Robotics Award in recognition of her pioneering work as a researcher, innovator, and educator in robotics. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA), a trade organization, presented the award recently in conjunction with the Automate 2017 Exhibition and Conference and the International Symposium on Robotics in Chicago.
Rus, who is a professor of computer science and electrical engineering, heads the Distributed Research Lab, which develops robotic technologies, including robots that can garden, bake cookies from scratch, dance with humans, and fly to conduct surveillance without human assistance. The lab has also worked on self-driving golf carts, wheelchairs, scooters, and city cars designed to reduce traffic deaths and provide new mobility options for elderly people. Companies such as iRobot and Boeing have commercialized innovations drawn from Rus' research.
The award is named for Joseph F. Engelberger, founder and president of Unimation, Inc., the world's first industrial robot manufacturer. It is “presented to individuals for excellence in technology development, application, education, and leadership in the robotics industry,” according to the RIA. Nearly 125 robotics leaders from 17 nations have received the awards since their inception in 1977.
This year's other Engleberger Robotics Award winner, Gill Pratt, has strong ties to MIT. As CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, Pratt also works toward developing safer, and self-driving, cars. Previously, he was an MIT associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science. He also received three academic degrees from MIT: a bachelor's in computer science and engineering, and a master's degree and PhD, both in electrical engineering and computer science.
"Dr Pratt and Dr. Rus are known throughout the world for their outstanding contributions to the robotics industry," RIA President Jeff Burnstein noted in announcing the awards.