University of Texas at Arlington associate professor of electrical engineering, Dan Popa, has been announced as a lead investigator for a joint effort for the advancement of robots and robotics. This project will further improve prosthetics and the ability to use those prosthetics by people who are no longer capable of performing tasks on their own.
This new project will make prosthetics respond more closely to the missing appendage by using sensors to more accurately determine the current situation involving the user. The National Science Foundation has issued a $1.35 million dollar grant to Popa’s University of Texas at Arlington’s Next Gen Systems group to help create what is being called a “smart robot”.
Popa said of their endeavor, “Our goal is to make robots and robotic technology more human-like and more human-friendly.” He outlined some of the goals of the project, “Robotic devices need to be safe and better able to detect human intent. When someone is wearing a prosthetic, we want that prosthetic to be able to determine when a baseball is being thrown at it, then catch the ball."
The National Science Foundation has developed a four-year project called the National Robotics Initiative, which is aimed toward increasing the capabilities of robots to work more closely with humans in everyday situations. The National Science Foundation showed the confidence that they have with the University of Texas at Arlington’s engineering department by issuing the largest of their 37 grants to the university.
The majority of the work will be conducted on the Fort Worth campus, UT Arlington Research Institute, and will be supervised by Popa and his fellow investigators. The “smart skin” operation team includes some leaders in the field: Frank Lewis, professor of electrical engineering and the Moncrief-O'Donnell Endowed Chair; Zeynep Celik-Butler, professor of electrical engineering and director of UT Arlington's Nanotechnology Research and Education Center; Donald Butler, professor of nanotechnology and electrical engineering; and Nicoleta Bugnariu, associate professor of physical therapy and neuroscience at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
University of Texas at Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs feels being a part of this project and being awarded this grant shows the school’s innovations in advanced technologies and that the project will showcase the efforts of their electronic engineers and robotic experts toward the bettering of humankind. The implications of the project offer a profound future and stand to benefit many people.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman