Building a brighter future with robotics

University of Minnesota, December 3, 2020

At MnRI, the U of M’s Minnesota Robotics Institute, a unit of the College of Science and Engineering (CSE), faculty are designing and building robots to perform in ways that mimic the human ability to collect information, process it, and act based on it—in other words, to learn from experience.

Humans do this without giving it a thought. Two people asked to move the same heavy object from point A to point B will naturally try to lift or push it together. But robots must be taught to make connections like this, which means their human designers must know not only about circuits and digital messaging, but about how their own brains work.

Challenges like this excite MnRI researchers, from undergrads up through seasoned professors of computer science and engineering like Gini, Volkan Isler, and MnRI Director Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos. In fact, Papanikolopoulos says the dedication of students and former students makes his job a joy.

“Seeing them lead the pack in industry, seeing them create hundreds of jobs in Minnesota—I never imagined, as a young student in Greece, I’d be part of such a thing,” he says.

Minnesota Robotics Institute