NIH Funding Development of Three Co-Robots

Grace Peng, Ph.D., program director of Rehabilitation Engineering at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said the three "highly innovative projects demonstrate the power of encouraging leaders in the field of robotics to focus their attention on solving issues that pertain to health."

The National Institutes of Health announced Dec. 2 that it will fund the development of three co-robots—robots that work cooperatively with people—as part of the National Robotics Initiative. Two of the robots are intended to aid individuals with disabilities and the third will be a social companion for children. Funding for these NIH projects will total approximately $2.2 million over the next five years, subject to the availability of funds.

"When the general public thinks about the research that NIH supports, they don't usually imagine robots. But robots have a tremendous potential to contribute to the health and well-being of our society, whether they are helping an elderly person engage in physical activity or promoting the curiosity of a child," said Grace Peng, Ph.D., program director of Rehabilitation Engineering at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. She said the three "highly innovative projects demonstrate the power of encouraging leaders in the field of robotics to focus their attention on solving issues that pertain to health."

This is the fourth year NIH has participated in the initiative. The National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Defense also supported the development of new co-robots this year.

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