National Robotics Roundtable applauds President for robotics initiative
President Obama announces investments in robotics to create jobs, improve U.S. competitiveness.
Following President Obama’s visit today to the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University, organizations constituting the National Robotics Roundtable applauded the administration’s new National Robotics Initiative and touted the role robotics and unmanned systems will play in creating jobs, strengthening the economy and ensuring American competitiveness in the global marketplace.
“We are pleased to welcome President Obama to Carnegie Mellon University today. The steps announced by the President will advance U.S. leadership, spur new industries and create new jobs,” said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University. “Robotics is at the heart of the race for 21st century global economic leadership, as current and emerging robotic innovations will become increasingly vital to keeping us healthy, safe and prosperous in the next decade and beyond. Now, more than ever, it’s important that industry, academia, and government work together to ensure our economic security and global competitiveness.”
Robotics and unmanned systems have the potential to extend our human reach and expand our human capacity in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, defense and security, healthcare, transportation, agriculture and natural resource management. Meanwhile, robots are already at work addressing a number of our nation’s most critical needs, including reinvigorating the U.S. manufacturing base, protecting our citizens and soldiers, preserving our environment, making surgery less invasive, exciting our kids about math and science, and enabling people with disabilities to lead normal, productive lives.
For example, U.S. doctors are currently utilizing sophisticated robotic devices to perform complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach, leading to a lower risk of infection, quicker recovery times and a shorter hospital stay. And a small wire basket manufacturer in Baltimore, MD that invested in robotics has seen its revenue increase six-fold, enabling them to expand (from 18 to 30 employees) and increase worker wages from $6 to $24 per hour. In an economy marked by importation, the company is exporting its products to the shores of China and 34 other countries.
“Investing in robotics is more than just money for research and development, it is a vehicle to transform American lives and revitalize the American economy,” commented Helen Greiner, president and CEO of CyPhyWorks, president of the Robotics Technology Consortium, and co-founder of iRobot. “Indeed, we are at a critical juncture where we are seeing robotics transition from the laboratory to generate new businesses, create jobs and confront the important challenges facing our nation. The nation’s robotics community is collectively poised to advance the technology and at the same time accelerate the transition of these technologies from the lab into the market.”
A number of recent man-made and natural disasters have further exemplified the new and emerging uses for robotics and unmanned systems. In the aftermath of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, robotic systems were used to inspect the damage at its Fukushima plant, a task too dangerous for humans. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, unmanned underwater vehicles were deployed to contain the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Other unmanned systems have been deployed nationally to survey and help in search and rescue and control situations such as the Red River flood in North Dakota and the Southwest wildfires. Every day, robots and unmanned systems serve as eyes in the sky and perform dangerous tasks for our troops overseas, providing an extra level of protection in hostile and dangerous environments.
In fact, the vast majority of robotics and unmanned systems innovation is happening in nascent small businesses – the backbone of our economy. Federal investments in robotics and unmanned systems can ensure these companies grow, thrive, and spur our economic recovery.
Following the announcement, leading members of the National Robotics Roundtable and key players in the field of robotics and unmanned systems issued the following statements in support of the administration’s announcement:
“While the last 25 years saw tremendous progress due to the Internet, the next revolution is considered to be robotics. Robotics has the potential to be a real-game changer for job growth and quality of life. Today the big commercial robotics programs are in Europe, Japan and South Korea. Through the National Robotics Initiative, the U.S. can regain the leadership position both in terms of basic research and application of the technology to secure future growth.”
- Dr. Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics at Georgia Tech University
“A well coordinated National Robotics Initiative will provide the leadership and investment necessary to accelerate the advancement of next generation robotics technologies and knock down the regulatory and technological barriers necessary to lead to wide spread adoption and repatriation of US manufacturing jobs.”
- John Dulchinos, President and CEO of Adept Technology
“If we want to end the talk of a 'jobless recovery,' we should increase our national investments in robotics and create millions of high-paying jobs in the process. How? By developing improved robotics technology that can be applied to reviving our manufacturing industries, protecting the environment, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and helping provide quality care for our growing elderly population.”
- Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotics Industry Association
"Robotic surgery is currently improving the precision of surgery while decreasing its invasiveness. Building on current US strengths in this arena will support the United States' leading position in this emerging, high-growth and global industry and will encourage job creation in research, design, development and manufacturing."
- Gary Guthart, CEO of Intuitive Surgical
"Robotics leads to numerous new technologies, opens new markets, creates jobs, and improves all of our lives."
- Matt Mason, Director, Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute
“Among the many strengths of robotics and unmanned systems, one of the most important is that they are a revolutionary technology that will extend the functionality of a human being’s hands, eyes, and ears to allow them to perform dirty, dangerous, difficult, and dull operations from a safe distance. As men and women look for better ways to accomplish their jobs, robotics and unmanned systems will be at the forefront as applications to use them continue to increase.”
- Michael Toscano, President of the Association for Unmanned Systems International (AUVSI)
“We are living amidst a time of remarkable technical advances that allow us to develop and deploy robots to conduct surveillance and mapping missions, both on land and in the sea. Whether in the face of nuclear disaster, in the line of fire or operating within the oceans from the North Pole to the South Pole – and everywhere in between – iRobot’s unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), render dangerous areas safe, but also help expand our knowledge of Earth’s oceans – all without a human ever having to set foot in a hostile or unknown environment.”
- Colin Angle, iRobot CEO and Chairman of the Board
“QinetiQ loves the passionate user appreciation we regularly receive from our customers who daily use our unmanned ground systems to keep them out of the danger zone; be it from improvised explosive devises our war fighters face each day in Iraq and Afghanistan or from deadly radiation at the Earthquake and Tsunami damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. The smiles on our young customer faces and their heartfelt thanks feed our passion for innovation and sustains our continuous improvement cycle.”
- Bob Quinn, Vice President, Unmanned Systems, QinetiQ North America, Technology Solutions Group
“We are an example of how robots can help improve companies in America...to improve revenue, improve profits and improve the welfare of the employees. Robots have enabled every employee to be supercharged. Every employee is more valuable. They make more parts per hour. They're more effective and they're making better quality parts. That enables companies like Marlin to pay more. But we're also getting more, so it's a win-win for the employee and the company. Moreover the risk of injury is reduced. Robots are typically doing things that are the most repetitive…or put employees in harm's way. Robots make factories a better environment and it's safer for the welfare of the employees. As a result, we have gone over 900 days without a lost time accident."
- Drew Greenblatt, President of Marlin Steel Wire
"The Mesa County Sheriff's Office has found great success in the deployment of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) over the last 2 years. This field of robotics technology has broadened our mission capability significantly and continues to open our eyes to new and innovative ways of completing our day to day tasks. Robotics have been instrumental in extending the capability of our officers, and have done so safely and effectively. As this new market emerges we hope to direct effective, innovative and relevant robotics products for the law enforcement community."
- Stan Hilkey, Sheriff of Mesa County, CO
“The introduction of unmanned air vehicles represents the next major step in aviation. The benefits to the world community reach well beyond the technology by creating a cost effective and valuable tool for the advancement of science, security, and protection of our vital infrastructure. Most importantly, unmanned aircraft provide a resource for first responders that can and will save lives. We have yet to imagine the full potential and benefit from this technology and the benefits it will bring. Much like the spinoffs from the space program, advancements in efficient propulsion systems, miniaturization, communication alternatives, aerodynamics, and other related aspects of the technology will migrate into everyday lives.”
- Paul McDuffee, Business Development Executive, Insitu., Inc.
“The technology that enables robotics to improve the American way of life needs to be developed in the US. One of the main drivers of the improvements in the productivity of the American workforce is the proper use of the current robotics technology. As the technology continues to rapidly improve, the problems that robotics can solve will expand rapidly. This will happen. The leader in this technology development will lead in the implementation of the robots to solve more problems. This will lead to an increase in the standard of living in the US that we are just starting to see now. The next few years will set the tone for who takes the lead in robotics technology and implementation of that to real world problems.”
- Scot Lindemann, JR Automation
“Robotics hold the potential to so fundamentally change our socio-economic landscape that we need to reconsider referring to their impact merely as improvements. In manufacturing industries like aerospace and next-generation electronic systems, robotics will transform how we manufacture, not just provide incremental improvements to existing processes and production methods. In many instances robots can represent a step-function shift in productivity, efficiency, and profitability and whose presence can affect every element in the manufacturing value stream from design and analysis to sales and distribution. Robotics is an enabling technology opening new doors of opportunity into new hallways with even more doors. What’s needed now is a coherent and collaborative national focus to bring about robotics technologies that will make this possible.”
- Curtis A. Richardson, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.
“At Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) we are emboldened by the recovering economy and we are again investing aggressively in our core business of recruiting engineers and launching them into fulfilling careers in the robotics and automation industry. We expect that continued investment in robotics technology and engineering education will inspire our nation’s youth to pursue automation technology degrees with more vigor than ever. Initially the majority of robot applications were in automotive manufacturing. As robotic technology continues to advance, becoming more capable, less expensive and easier to use, we see applications in many areas that were never considered before. Now automation professionals are deploying robots in a wide variety of industries including wind and solar energies, medical devices, glass processing, food and beverage production, chemical processes and many more. It does appear that we’re at a robotic renaissance and the future looks brighter than ever.”
- Michael P. Jacobs, President of Applied Manufacturing Technologies
"The United States has pioneered research in Robotics and Automation; we are now poised to develop the next wave of robots that will dramatically enhance the abilities of human workers in factories, labs, hospitals, and homes."
- Ken Goldberg, Professor of Engineering and Information, UC Berkeley
"UAS have more than proven their value in the military world. Today, UAS are utilized for applications closer to home. Whether monitoring our country's borders, protecting its citizens, monitoring pipeline and utility assets or finding those who are lost and in distress. Small UAS can be launched quickly, day or night, to provide precise situational awareness whenever and wherever they are needed. When the need is now, Unmanned Aircraft Systems can be a valuable asset in missions to save lives and protect property."
- Aerovironment, Inc.
"The use of robotics in medicine and health care has seen substantial growth in the last decade. Telerobotic systems are routinely used to perform surgery, resulting in shorter recovery times and more reliable outcomes for patients. Robotic rehabilitation systems are delivering physical and occupational therapy, enabling treatment that is continuously adaptable to a patient's needs. In the United States, robots are stimulating the development of new treatments for a wide variety of diseases and disorders, which will improve both the standard and accessibility of care."
- Allison Okamura, PhD, Stanford University; Maja Mataric, PhD, University of Southern California
"RE2 Inc. is representative of small robotics engineering businesses across the United States that are contributing to the economic growth of their regions. These small businesses form the backbone of the new economy by leveraging federal and private investments to create new high-tech jobs and ensure that the United States remains a leader of global innovation."
- Jorgen Pedersen, President and CEO, RE2, Inc.
"Robotics is a game-changer! President Obama's National Robotics Initiative will lead to new innovative technologies that will invigorate America's manufacturing economy by creating new opportunities and new jobs, improve our quality of life by revolutionizing health care and medicine, and make our nation safer with the development of robots for defense, security and emergency response."
- Vijay Kumar, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
National Robotics Roundtable
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