The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has announced a $6.2 million grant to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel in support of multidisciplinary, application-oriented robotics research and systems development.
The grant will be used to establish the ABC (Agricultural, Biological, and Cognitive) Robotics Center at the university and will support research and development on robotics for use in medical, service, industrial, and agricultural settings. Fully autonomous robots that are capable of performing new tasks in complex human environments will require not only advanced perception and dexterity, as well as the ability to efficiently learn new tasks under changing conditions, but also physical and behavioral characteristics that enable humans to interact with them naturally.
Researchers at the university will explore cognitive processes in humans and animals to create autonomous robots that can interact intuitively with people and in human environments, and will seek to better understand the principles of intelligence based on insights from these experiments. In addition, the grant will provide funds for postdoctoral and doctoral fellowships, updated technological equipment, and additional faculty positions.
"The Helmsley Charitable Trust is proud to partner with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in advancing the science, technology, and human interactivity of robotics," said Helmsley trustee Sandor Frankel, "which will be so critical to medicine, industry, and agriculture in the future."