Robotics Institute celebrates 11001st anniversary this week

by Corinne Pascale
Asst. Science & Technology Editor

Today, Carnegie Mellon?s Robotics Institute will begin a four-day celebration of its 25th anniversary. Since its 1979 establishment, the Robotics Institute has built a reputation as one of the premier robotics outlets in the country, with its research spanning many disciplines. As a result, the Institute has had far-reaching influence in the fields of medicine, autonomous technology, and computer vision. The anniversary will bring together many of the most successful and well-known researchers in the country to explore the latest challenges and successes of robotics. Activities range from tours of laboratories to lectures and business networking opportunities.
Although there are lectures scheduled to cover advanced topics, not all of the events are aimed solely at those who are already studying robotics, engineering, or computer science. One of the many goals of the anniversary is to capture the attention of a new student by exposing him or her to an unanticipated facet of robotics.
A series of free lectures, demonstrations, and gallery exhibits dubbed ?Community Involvement Day? will take place around campus on Tuesday. These exhibits are open to the general public; students who are interested in robotics are encouraged to attend. ?We have some great roboticists from within Carnegie Mellon who will be speaking and giving demonstrations.... These [talks] will be well worthwhile,? said Robotics Institute Director Matt Mason. Tuesday will undoubtedly provide students with the most opportunities to be part of the events. Over a dozen lectures will take place in the University Center, their topics ranging from social to micro- and nano-scale robots. The presentations will take place inside and outside the University Center, and on the Cut. Students will be able watch a video about a mobile robot named Zo? which has potential applications for Mars exploration, learn about the Gyrover, an enclosed single-wheel robot that has the ability to traverse rough terrain, or share their Tartan pride by hearing a robot bagpiper perform.
The artistic implications of robotics will be not be neglected. The Tech Gallery, an exhibit which will be featured in Newell-Simon Hall B Level opens Tuesday and closes with a reception on Thursday. Its goal is to expose visitors to exhibits that reflect the inspiration by and for research with robotics, with an emphasis on visual creativity. Furthermore, the show emphasizes Carnegie Mellon?s collaboration between technology and the arts that has already captured the hearts of its early attendees. The Da Vinci Effect is slated to run Wednesday and Thursday. The show on Wednesday will bring the Grand Challenges of Robotics Symposium, and lectures by distinguished professors from around the country. The week culminates Thursday night with a concert by Laura Anderson, NASA?s first artist in residence. Her performance, an eclectic mixture of many mediums, will showcase work from her latest album, the End of the Moon.
The events of the anniversary will reinforce the Robotics Institute?s position in the community and hopefully bring new minds into the discipline. The Institute believes that only exposure to the research underway will fully explain what happens there. The anniversary will be an opportunity to expose the population to cutting-edge technology. ?Unless you come and visit, you can?t really appreciate the scope of what?s going on here. It?s not something you can imagine unless you see it,? said Mason.