Only January 11th, NVIDIA announced a new robotics research lab near Seattle’s University of Washington campus, which will be run by Dieter Fox, senior director of robotics research at NVIDIA and professor in the University’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. The purpose of the lab will be to complete breakthrough research in robots that are able to “perform complex manipulation tasks to safely work alongside humans” and ultimately transform a range of industries, from manufacturing to logistics, healthcare and more.
As Fox said in a statement following the announcement, “in the past, robotics research has focused on small, independent projects rather than fully integrated systems. We’re bringing together a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of experts in robot control and perception, computer vision, human-robot interaction, and deep learning.”
The lab will be made up of approximately 50 researches with visiting faculty and student interns. Their aim will be to keep the research as relevant as possible and investigate how their work may translate into large-scale contexts and real-life scenarios. The first item on the calendar is a mobile manipulator that is placed into a life-like kitchen where they will solve “a variety of tasks, ranging from retrieving objects from cabinets to learning how to clean the dining table to helping a person cook a meal.”
The robot is built from a complex system that combines Dense Articulated Real-Time Tracking, 6D Object Pose Estimation, Riemannian Motion Policies, and Physics-based Photorealistic Simulation. These processes allow the robot to interpret its environment and adapt to changes in environment.
"We really feel that the time is right to develop the next generation of robots,” added Fox. “By pulling together recent advances in perception, control, learning, and simulation, we can help the research community solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.”