The Seattle landscape is getting another feature with the opening of our
AI Robotics Research Lab.
Leading the facility is Dieter Fox, senior director of robotics research
at NVIDIA and professor at the University of Washington Paul G. Allen
School of Computer Science and Engineering.
“We wanted a location that keeps us close to UW to enable easy
collaboration with the university,” said Fox. “For example, we often
invite students from the UW robotics community to spend time here and
attend seminars with external speakers.”
The lab opened in November with 14 researchers and expects to triple in
size by midyear, including visiting faculty and interns.
Fox is a leading researcher in robotics and AI. His current research is
in interactive manipulation, where robots, called “cobots,” can perform
complex tasks and work alongside humans.
While current industrial manipulators are separated from humans and are
limited to performing repetitive actions, Fox sees cobots as the next
step for robotics, playing a significant role in manufacturing,
healthcare, in the home, and helping people with physical disabilities.
“We want to develop robots that can naturally perform tasks alongside
people,” said Fox. “To do that, they need to be able to understand what
a person wants to do and figure out how to help her achieve a goal.”
The robotics lab is working on around a dozen research projects, the
main one being a robot that can operate in a real-life kitchen. The
“kitchen manipulator” integrates state-of-the-art AI and deep learning
techniques to detect and track objects, keep track of the positions of
doors and drawers in the kitchen, and open/close them to get access to
objects for manipulation. For more details, check out our Developer News
The robot kitchen assistant (“kitchen manipulator”) in action.
sees the kitchen as an ideal testing platform, representing a wide range
of other application domains. While it’s a structured environment, it’s
easy to introduce new variables to the robot in the form of more complex
tasks, such as dealing with unknown objects or assisting a person who is
cooking a meal.
“All of this is working toward enabling the next generation of smart
manipulators that can also operate in open-ended environments where not
everything is designed specifically for them,” said Fox. “By pulling
together recent advances in perception, control, learning and
simulation, we can help the research community solve some of the
greatest challenges in robotics.”
Earlier this year, NVIDIA also opened an AI research lab in Toronto, led
by Sanja Fidler, a leading computer vision research scientist and
University of Toronto professor.
The NVIDIA Research team consists of more than 200 scientists around the
globe, focusing on areas including AI, computer vision, self-driving
cars, robotics and graphics.