A new U.S. Robotics Roadmap released Oct. 31 calls for better policy frameworks to safely integrate new technologies, such as self-driving cars and commercial drones, into everyday life. The document also advocates for increased research efforts in the field of human-robot interaction to develop intelligent machines that will empower people to stay in their homes as they age. It calls for increased education efforts in the STEM fields from elementary school to adult learners.
The roadmap’s authors, more than 150 researchers from around the nation, also call for research to create more flexible robotics systems to accommodate the need for increased customization in manufacturing, for everything from cars to consumer electronics
The goal of the U.S. Robotics Roadmap is to determine how researchers can make a difference and solve societal problems in the United States. The document provides an overview of robotics in a wide range of areas, from manufacturing to consumer services, healthcare, autonomous vehicles and defense. The roadmap’s authors make recommendation to ensure that the United States will continue to lead in the field of robotics, both in terms of research innovation, technology and policies.
“We also want to make sure that research solves real life problems and gets deployed,” said Henrik I. Christensen, a professor computer scientist at the University of California San Diego, and the document’s lead editor. “We need to make sure that we are making an impact on people’s lives.”
The Roadmap first edition came out in 2009 and led to the creation of the National Robotics Initiative by President Barack Obama. Researchers led by Christensen updated the document in 2013. They are revisiting the roadmap now ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Christensen, who is the director of the Contextual Robotics Institute at UC San Diego, gave a preview of the roadmap’s main findings during the Contextual Robotics Forum Oct. 28 on the UC San Diego campus.
The 100-page document highlights the following major findings and recommendations: