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WPI’s Berenson Receives IEEE Early Career Award

Prof Berenson (right) (1)
Dmitry Berenson, assistant professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. (Photo credit: WPI)

Dmitry Berenson, assistant professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts was one of two 2016 Early Career Award recipients bestowed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Robotics & Automation Society (IEEE-RAS).  He was awarded “For contributions to the theory and implementation of robot motion planning and manipulation.”

Also receiving the Early Career Award is Ludovic Righetti of the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems “For contributions to the theory of, and experiments in, robot locomotion and manipulation.”

Established in 1999, this award is bestowed on individuals in the early stage of their career, who have made an identifiable contribution or contributions which have had a major impact on the robotics and/or automation fields. Two awards are presented, the RAS Early Career Award: Academic; and the RAS Early Career Award: Industry or Government.

soft bot
(Photo credit: WPI)

Earlier this year, Mr. Berenson was featured in the “EduBots” column of Robot magazine (Robot, issue 56 March/April) 2016) when he was awarded nearly $600,000 in federal funding for two separate projects that could point toward practical uses for deformable, soft robots in medicine, manufacturing, and disaster response. He secured a three-year, $322,319 National Robotics Initiative (NRI) grant from the National Science Foundation titled “Collaborative research: Human-supervised manipulation of deformable objects,” and a two-year, $247,355 Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) from the National Science Foundation to study “fundamental algorithms for design, control, and motion planning of soft manipulators.”

Researchers at WPI’s Soft Robotics Laboratory, including Cagdas Onal, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a co-principal investigator (see “EduBots” in Robot, issue 57 May/June) examine potential applications for soft deformable robots, a largely unexplored area of robotics engineering. The focus of the NRI grant is to explore applications more specifically in medicine that would enable them to build surgical robots known as “intelligent surgical assistants.”

The mission of the IEEE-RAS is to foster the development and facilitate the exchange of scientific and technological knowledge in robotics and automation that benefits members, the profession, and humanity. It is one of the most recognized and respected global organizations in robotics and automation.

The IEEE’s objectives are scientific, literary, and educational in character. It strives for the advancement of the theory and practice of robotics and automation engineering and science and of the allied arts and sciences, and for the maintenance of high professional standards among its members.

RAS strives to advance innovation, education, and fundamental and applied research in robotics and automation. Robotics focuses on systems incorporating sensors and actuators that operate autonomously or semi-autonomously in cooperation with humans. Robotics research emphasizes intelligence and adaptability to cope with unstructured environments. Automation research emphasizes efficiency, productivity, quality, and reliability, focusing on systems that operate autonomously, often in structured environments over extended periods, and on the explicit structuring of such environments.

The Society provides aid in promoting close cooperation and exchange of technical information among its members and affiliates, and to this end holds meetings for the presentation of papers and their discussion, sponsors appropriate periodicals and special technical publications, and through its committees studies and provides for the needs of its members and affiliates.

For more information and membership, visit the organization’s website at