By Corey Williams, associated Press
ANN ARBOR, Mr. MichiganThe Ford Motor Company robotics building, while the Mini-Cheetah – stackato-like – does one on four and the yellow-legged Kasi deliberately side-to-step.
A grand opening for the four-story, $ 75 million, 134,000-square-foot (11,429-square-meter) complex was held on Tuesday. A three-story house classroom and research lab for robots to fly, walk, roll and protrude the human body.
On the top floor are Ford researchers and engineers and the automaker’s first robotics and mobility research laboratory on the university campus.
Together, they will work to develop robots and robots that help improve life, keep people safe and build a more equitable society, the school and automaker announced Tuesday.
“As we all drive and use our vehicles and know about our day-to-day lives, I am sure that we all have moments in our day where we use a little help or a little help Can, “said Ken Washington, Ford Chief Technical Officer.
“We’re going to work on drone technology, walking robots, rotating robots, all kinds of robots in the facility and the ways they can improve people’s lives,” Washington said. “And we will do it in such a way that the questions and fears around safety and security are resolved. The more people will see that these robots can interact with society and interact with humans, the more comfortable they will meet with them. “
The building on the University’s Ann Arbor campus brings together researchers from 23 buildings and 10 programs in one place. People working on two-legged disaster response robots can test them on obstacles on a 30-mph (48-kilometer per hour) treadmill, or on a ladder-driven “robot playground”, which is supported by artificial intelligence is made from.
Biomedical engineers are looking at developing lighter, more stable prosthetic legs. Ford engineers are exploring how digit robots can work in human space.
“We want them to be able to work in realistic conditions … You get out into the real world where the rolling, twigs are,” said Jessie Grizzle, director of the Institute of Robotics. “There it is. There is a boulder. There are holes you can’t see because the grass is flat, and then you want your robots to react well and be upright like a human.”
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford and other automakers are investing billions of dollars in autonomous vehicles. And robotics is expected to play a major role in their development. A spokesman said Ford announced in February that it was a $ 7 billion autonomous vehicle investment, with specific research ranging from sensing systems to applications such as Digit.
In November, Ford revealed plans to convert a long-vacant Detroit Book Warehouse into a hub for automobile innovation. Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, Ford’s planned $ 740 million project to create a space where new transportation and mobility ideas nurture and develop.
According to Washington, one day people may see a robot similar to a digit from a driverless vehicle, strolling across its lawn and leaving a package at the door of homes in their neighborhood.
“This is an exciting proposition, especially in this post-Kovid era where the promise of online shopping has become just the norm,” he said. “As you think about a future where package delivery is going to be a part of daily life, this is a real opportunity for us to pair robots with an autonomous vehicle that addresses the problem of package delivery on a scale Helps solve. “
“It’s not here today, but you can be very certain that it’s not in the not too distant future,” Washington said.
Alec Gallimore, dean of engineering at the University of Michigan, said researchers working together in the building are designing robots for people.
“People are not robots and people are not robots, but we think – together – there can be synergy,” Gallimore said. “Therefore, we are designing robots that are going to help you. For example first responder. Can we put robots in harm’s way so that we don’t have people there? “
Ford contributed about $ 37 million to the cost of the robotics building, including a three-story, indoor fly zone for testing drones and other autonomous aerial vehicles; A yard built with input from university and NASA scientists to test vehicles and landing concepts, mimicking the surface of Mars.
The University of Michigan and Ford are also working with two historically black colleges in Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman, allowing students there to remotely enroll in pilot robotics courses.
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