National Robotics Initiative awards $38M in new funding

NRI bridge inspection robot

The National Robotics Initiative, which launched in 2011 and is spearheaded by the National Science Foundation, earlier this week announced $38 million in new investments in the program’s second round of funding.

Along with its partner agencies — the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture and NASA — it said the funding was aimed at creating the next-generation of collaborative robots, or co-robots. The 30-plus projects selected are widely varied and span a number of target markets: advanced manufacturing; civil and environmental infrastructure; health care and rehabilitation; military and homeland security; space and undersea exploration; food production, processing and distribution; independence and quality of life improvement; and driver safety.

The money breaks down this way: NSF funded 30 new projects at a cost of about $31 million during the next three years. NIH will fund three projects totaling approximately $2.4 million during the next five years. The USDA announced five grants totaling $4.5 million. NASA, for its part, has continued to support all projects it awarded in 2012 and recently announced a new solicitation for proposals.

The projects touch on hot areas including 3-D printing, robotic surgery, assistive robotics, search and rescue, and more. A full listing of the NRI investments made by NSF is available on NSF’s NRI Program Page.

[ photo courtesy of Luke Yoder, The Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University ]

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