UC San Diego Launches Robotics Institute


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The future of robotics at UC San Diego

“What’s powerful about the new Contextual Robotics Institute is having researchers with a whole spectrum of expertise working together,” said UC San Diego cognitive science professor Zhuowen Tu.

Computer vision, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, electronic actuators, dynamic controls, materials, nano- and micro-machines, sensors and sensing, controls systems, human-robot interactions, chips, wireless communications, new materials, biomimetics, batteries and power management are just a few of the research strengths at UC San Diego that will converge in future robotic systems.

A wide spectrum of expertise will be necessary to give robotics systems the ability to not only perceive context, but to make use of it.

“Context enables situational awareness and is essential to achieving true autonomy in robotics systems,” said Rajesh Gupta, professor and chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at UC San Diego. Gupta served as faculty chair of the visioning committee for the Institute.

There are many different kinds of context including physical, emotional and sociological, Gupta explained. “Contextual robotics systems will understand context and apply known capabilities. These systems will also derive new capabilities from context and even change the context in a controllable manner by applying new capabilities,” said Gupta.

Getting to this level of autonomy will take significant work at the intersection of engineering, computer science and the social sciences.

“The Institute is not complete until we have core laboratory spaces,” said Pisano. These labs will facilitate the cross-disciplinary systems integration work, in partnership with industry partners that will be key to the mission of the Institute.

These dynamic environments will help ensure that UC San Diego trains tomorrow’s robotics workforce in both engineering and social sciences.

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